Steamboat Springs is a lovely little ski town just over the Rabbit Ears summit pass 9,000 feet above sea level and rolls along the Yampa River. On our drive there, we stopped to take in the scenery.
Yes, this is snow. In June.
We decided we wanted to stay a while up in the mountains and the reason we chose Steamboat as opposed to Aspen was 1) Aspen had just received 6 something inches of snow and 2) Strawberry Park Hot Springs are in Steamboat.
A friend had recommended going to these hot springs, which were magical in their own right. The hot springs trickle down the mountain, steam blowing off them as they fill in the manmade stone pools below. And while your basking in the warmth of the jacuzzi-style pools (you are up in the mountains, and the temperature is cool) you enjoy the gushing river (cold!) that runs beside these hot pools.
It's a pretty amazing place, and for $10 you can spend the day relaxing in the rustic yet spa-like setting.
And what would this blog be if I didn't share at least some picture of food that I ate/bought?
And what would a back country hot springs be if it didn't allow skinny dipping?
Hot springs and naked swimmers aren't the only thing Steamboat has to offer. It has a beautiful botanic garden that boasted all sorts of beautiful flowers, plants, and scenery.
Next up: Boulder, CO and the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference...
I'm back from vacay! Tim and I have been traveling Northern Colorado for the past week, partly for vacation, partly for work.
I thought I share some travel stories and recommendations, since we were so grateful for the excellent recommendations we received from friends when traveling the Rockies!
First off, let me say that everyone was so friendly and helpful. From the ticket agent to waitstaff to front desk hotel concierges to the general Coloradoan population we met along the way. We had an amazing time and hope to go back again soon!
One Tuesday night we had the opportunity to see a concert a Red Rocks. This naturally-formed amphitheater is made up of red canyon rock and its shape, size, and acoustics are perfect for an open air concert. It was built as part of the New Deal and has been the spot of concerts by legends throughout the years. We had the pleasure of catching a country concert with Willie Nelson as the headliner. Certainly a treat!
The venue at dusk. Denver in the background.
One side of Red Rocks in the daylight.
Red Rocks at night.
Tim and Willie!
I've been spending some time in the Rocky Mountains this week, somewhat off the grid. What am I doing in Colorado, you ask?
Besides drinking coffee...
The Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference is this weekend in Boulder! I'll be speaking at the conference on Sunday morning about nutrition myths with the lovely Corinne and Lindsey.
If you're interested in what this conference is all about, check out their website, follow the stream of tweets at #fhbc11 and follow my tweets at @EatItTweetIt. And if you're at the conference, come say hi!
In the meantime, enjoy the local scenery.
With love, The Rockies.
After months of waiting, it's finally CSA time. I originally started this blog to document my weekly CSA goodies from Stillman's Farm. It's morphed into something different these days, but I thought I'd get back to my roots and show you what appeared in the inaugural CSA box.And what is a CSA, you ask? Check out the definition of a CSA here.
Here are some other fun posts featuring CSA produce from seasons past.
I started my way through all of that green goodness by making a salad topped with olives aside a leftover BBQ chicken sandwich. The strawberries didn't even make it 24 hours in this household.
Question of the Day: What are your thoughts on belonging to a CSA?
There are three idiosyncrasies about me I think you should know:
1. I possess the "I-still-have-time-to-do-one-more-thing gene" also known as the "late gene". This one was passed down from my mom (Hi mom! Love you.) I'm usually not very late, but late enough where I find myself searching for an excuse. Traffic lights! Accident! Stopped to get you a present! Got lost! My cat ate my homework! I'm sincerely working on this.
2. I love to chew gum. I'm fairly certain this is a nervous habit, but I do it just the same.
3. I am a list person.
I just can't help loving check boxes, itemized steps, and crossing things off. I have even been known to write "make a list" on a current list. I've made day lists, week lists, grocery shopping lists, annual lists and lists of lists. A couple months ago, I read an article in the Nutrition Entrepreneurs newsletter that spurred my interest in creating the ultimate "I Know What I Did Last Summer" to-do/wish list. The purpose of the list is so that when someone asks you what you did during the summer, you have a whole list of fabulous things you have potentially done, checked off, and can be proud of. A summer wish list like this to me is like an acorn to a squirrel. Sorry for the bad simile. Haven't done similes, since, like, 7th grade.
So I listed away, marking down simple, attainable list items like taking trash to the dump, cleaning the kitchen, etc. Then the list got somewhat more ambitious:
- Build a backyard patio
- Paint interior trim, paint living room
- Train for the Bay State Marathon
- Plan a trip to Ireland; go to Ireland
See where this is going?
As for some of the other larger projects, suffice it to say our living room looks like a war zone, or that the furniture is doing some sort of permanent do-si-do dance in the middle of the room.
But one thing I happily checked off the list this week was visiting the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. I've always wanted to visit this giant garden propped atop a bridge that crosses the Deerfield River. It was absolutely stunning and a feat of creative genius. By a woman, of course.
And the most pleasant surprise of all was the quaintness of the town of Shelburne Falls. Cute coffee shops, artists' galleries, and an antique-looking bowling alley made this mill town a perfect little gem I'd love to spend some more time in.
So now that that particular item is checked off, I'm moving on. If you find me painting the interior of my house, sewing a pillow, surfing in Rhode Island, or learning to play the harmonica, you'll know I'm just desperately seeking to cross something else off the list.
Question of the Day: Are you a list person? What's on your to-do list for the summer? Anything I should add to my list?
Posted by Jess at 9:35 AM
The original title of this post was "Kitchen Sink Salad" but quickly decided that it connoted 1) prepping your salad in a kitchen sink, 2) eating out of the kitchen sink, both of which disgusted me, and probably you, too, and sent the wrong message. If you're ever to dine at my kitchen table (the invite is open!), you'll never find the same salad twice. Whatever is in the refrigerator vegetable drawer gets sliced, diced, and added to a salad. So what I wanted to mean was that my salads usually contain everything but the kitchen sink.
Instead, let's call is the BYO salad: Build Your Own.
BYO Salad with lettuce and chopped peppers (on the bottom, I swear), finely chopped cilantro, radishes sliced with a mandolin, fat-free feta, sliced grilled chicken, olives, balsamic vinaigrette and a slice of anadama bread
This is hardly a new concept (think: salad bars), but building a salad can quickly go awry when the "kitchen sink" mentality is applied. Fried meats, creamy dressings, fried croutons and tortilla chips, etc. bring shame to the salad name. Think of it as Salads Gone Wild.
Let's start with the base. Dark leafy salad greens are a perfect foundation for a meal: low-calorie, nutritive, and provide a palate-cleansing crunch between each bite. Rice, pasta, and other cooked grains can also provide a base for a meal, but using salad greens as your plate's foundation, you're getting closer to the recommendation of making half of your plate vegetables (and fruit), as you'll see here in the new MyPlate icon. Unfortunately, I see I'm still confusing you by using the pyramid metaphor where we're building a foundation, adding and layering foods, etc. Excuse me while I grieve the Food Guide Pyramid. Just know that MyPlate has now replaced the Food Guide Pyramid and MyPyramid.
Personally, I find large pieces of lettuce overwhelming in a salad, so I ribbon cut my salad greens to make the meal more manageable for my mouth. And I can be a sloppy eater, so large lettuce pieces = dressing on my face and lap. Smaller lettuce pieces = a happy and less messy Jess.
Next you'll want to layer with additional vegetables or fruit. I use chopped peppers, tomatoes, red onions, and have also added leftover grilled or sauteed asparagus, peppers, zucchini and squash. You could even add sliced strawberries, which would be a perfect addition this time of year. Prepping your vegetables in different cuts makes your salad more appealing. There's diced, julienned, batonnet, allumette, etc. You can also run your vegetables over a mandolin for a paper-thin slice.
Next comes your protein. I've added pre-marinated, pre-cooked tofu, sliced chicken, salmon, tuna salad, almonds, toasted walnuts, black beans, cannellini beans, and kidney beans.
Then you'll want to add a dose of flavor. I usually add some olives, cheese, or toasted cubes of garlic-tossed bread. Or a little of all three.
Finally, top it all off with a tablespoon of dressing. The key with dressing is to add it, then cover your salad (don't forget this step!) and shake it up. This helps the dressing to coat everything in the salad and eliminates your need for more dressing. I prefer a simple balsamic vinaigrette, but there are some more fancy oil-based alternatives out there. Depending on the contents of your salad, you can even get away with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
I've found I like to prep and eat my BYO salads in a big Cali bowl. The salad is a meal in itself and these bowls are the perfect size.
BYO salads are quite versatile and can take on any sort of theme. Here are three of my favorites:
The Mexican Burrito BYO Salad: some combination of salad greens with kidney beans, grilled corn/onions/peppers chopped cilantro, avocado, a sprinkle of cheese, paprika, cayenne pepper, and a squeeze of lime.
Asian-Inspired BYO Salad: some combination of lettuce, pre-cooked tofu, chopped cilantro, edamame, stir-fried peppers/onions/mushrooms, sesame-soy dressing
Leaf-Peeper BYO Salad: some combination of lettuce, butternut squash, pears, toasted walnuts, poppyseed dressing
There you have it. These salads will one day save the world. So go ahead, throw in a salad to your weekly lunch, dinner, or even breakfast rotation. Maybe the post title should have read "Salads That Save the World."
Question of the Day: What's your favorite salad ingredient? I am really loving olives lately.
The Westminster Farmers' Market is in full swing and I wanted to share what I found there last Friday. The market is exceptional and for a small town, does a great job offering lots of delicious local foods.My favorite buy was the quart of strawberries. They were small, sweet, and absolutely worth the $3.50.
And aren't these peonies beautiful? They are my favorite. Gerbera daisies used to be numero uno but the delicate yet boastful demeanor of peonies made me fall in love, and don't see myself changing my mind any time soon.
After visiting the farmers' market, we enjoyed outdoor dining on the patio, grilled some meats, veggies, assorted salads, and had a great time with good company. The rest of the weekend was jam-packed with fun too, but was initially fueled by this Saturday morning breakfast.
A Strawberry Duo: Fresh, local strawberries and strawberry rhubarb muffins and the last bit of peanut butter in the jar
And for your viewing pleasure, a photo recap of the weekend:
We love our high school grad. Congrats Meredith!
That lovely graduation party ended like this. We know how to have a good time.
It's all fun and games until you can't stand up.
Disclaimer: No sumo wrestlers were harmed in this activity.
In addition to the
sumo wrestling party graduation party, I attended a wedding on Sunday with Tim for these two crazy kids.
Congrats Janel and Aaron!
Question of the Day: Are you a Bruins or Canucks fan? Go Bruins!!
Arugula is a finicky little leafy green. Too pungent to enjoy as a sole salad lettuce, yet it adds a peppery punch to this pizza.
And since egg salad can be pretty lame on its own, I added some arugula to it for a more sophisticated sandwich. Don't get me wrong... I'd eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner if variety was not the spice of life.
Pair it with a cup of cream of asparagus soup and you'll be thanking me.
Not only have I been eating sophisticated egg sandwiches and fighting off the bodily spread of poison oak, Tim and I have been busy with home improvements. Inspired by Young House Love's DIY stone patio, we went out and built ourselves one. Not just any patio: a glorious patio made with four tons of gravel and sand and another ton or two of bricks. Here are some progress photos:
An unassuming backyard.
A giant hole we dug.
A final photo to come... stay tuned!
Question of the Day: What's the biggest home improvement project you've ever taken on yourself?
Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing wrong.
I eat relatively healthfully, exercise fairly regularly, wear my seatbelt, wash my hands, I'm nice to others, and (mostly) drive the speed limit. Unfortunately, I feel like I develop some pretty weird medical issues as very inopportune and annoying times. And maybe my conditions are not uncommon, but they are definitely uncalled for. Earlier this year I contracted the flu virus, only in my eye. A few months later, I ended up with a stomach virus that puts food poisoning to shame. And just this week, poison oak took to my leg with a vengeance. Like I said, all of these events happened at inopportune times... but then again, when is a good time to get sick?
While I made one of my frequent visits to the physician's office, I checked out the May issue of Real Simple and came across this recipe, that inspired this version of the pizza. And while this pizza is not an exact replica of the one in Real Simple, it is still Real Good. (Even if my leg is Not Real Good.)
And whoever thought of putting lettuce on pizza deserves a gold star. Not just any lettuce; I'm talking arugula. It's that spicy leafy lettuce that is often found in spring mixes but makes any pizza much better. I'm not crazy of eating an arugula-only salad; too spicy. And when I mistakenly bought a giant container of arugula instead of salad mix, I had to find another way of using this piquant, peppery, leafy green.
Ricotta Arugula Pizza
(makes 2 medium thin-crust pizzas)
2 whole wheat tortillas, medium
1/4 red onion, sliced with a mandolin
zucchini, sliced thin with a mandolin
red pepper, sliced thin with a mandolin
shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 oz grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1 cup arugula
salt, pepper, EVOO to taste
On each tortilla, layer onions, zucchini, red pepper, and mushrooms. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese, and drop 1 tsp-sized amounts of ricotta cheese around the pizza. Sprinkle arugula over the top, add salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle about 1 tsp of EVOO on each tortilla. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until edges of tortilla begin to brown.
Question of the Day: A social etiquette question: Is it socially acceptable to rip recipes out of "public" magazines, like those at the doctor's or dentist's office? I didn't but I'm curious.