Monthly Archives: November 2010

Thanksgiving Surprise

Well, we’re proud to say we followed our own advice and didn’t skimp a bit on Thanksgiving Day. Two turkeys (one roasted, one fried), oyster stuffing, homemade gravy, mashed potatoes (made with plenty of butter and sour cream), sweet potato casserole (topped with marshmallows, of course), a slew of veggie sides, cranberry sauce (both the homemade kind and the weird gelatinous kind from a can—ick), homemade dinner rolls, one pie, one pumpkin cheesecake, and one chocolate cake. Phew.

Everything was just perfect, but the surprise standout wasn’t just one of the most delicious dishes—it was also one of the healthiest: Shredded Parmesan Brussels Sprouts. The recipe came from Food & Wine magazine, and it couldn’t be easier to prepare. Just chop up 3 pounds of Brussels sprouts coarsely in a food processor (or by hand), toss them with salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup olive oil, roast them on a rimmed baking sheet in a 425-degree oven for 30 minutes, then toss them with 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan. Put them back in the oven for a minute or so to melt the cheese, and voila!—one of the easiest, tastiest veggie sides you could make. We definitely won’t be waiting until next Thanksgiving to make this one again!

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Turkey Time!

Is it just us, or did Thanksgiving creep up out of nowhere this year? We’re excited to gather with family and friends all day long, and we’re not gonna lie, we’re pretty excited about the feasting that’s about to occur as well. We know what you’re thinking—we’re supposed to tell you not to eat certain things, to avoid that second serving of mashed potatoes, to go for the fruit salad rather than the biscuits. But we’re not gonna. Nope. It’s not our style. We fully support your decision to indulge on this one, happy, high-calorie holiday. Eat your turkey, taste the stuffing, enjoy the potatoes, just please, please leave room for the pie! Everything in moderation is okay by us, especially when the ingredients are fresh and the dishes are homemade.

Here’s our thought: Try to do at least one healthy thing for yourself before you sit down at the table. That way you start your meal feeling good, and coincidentally, you’ll be less likely to go crazy on the feasting, too (you know how you feel like eating salad after a good workout instead of eating french fries? Same idea.). So rather than simply recreating the couch-based, turkey-day traditions of our childhoods (watch the Thanksgiving day parade, eat, watch football, etc.), we’re choosing to instill active ones instead. Start the morning off right and go for a family bike ride, hike up the stairs in your neighborhood park, start a friendly flag football game or participate in your local turkey trot (you can easily create your own 5K or 10K as well). And if getting away from the kitchen proves to be too difficult a task, challenge yourself to completing 100 squats and/or lunges before dinner is served.

Whatever you do, have a healthy, happy Thanksgiving!

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‘Tis the (Ski) Season: Part II

Anyone who followed our trip last summer knows that we fell for Boise big time. Between the great restaurants, the awesome food co-op, and the fun workouts at the local YMCA, the city seems custom-made for The Fit Trip. Since we visited during the summer, we didn’t get to take advantage of one of the coolest things about Boise: its proximity to Bogus Basin, a ski resort that’s only about a 45-minute drive from the city. But we’ve been before, and we’re huge fans.

As ski areas go, Bogus isn’t a big player—Sun Valley is the big name when it comes to Idaho skiing, with Bogus flying way under the radar. And that’s exactly why we love it. There’s a good mix of fun beginner/intermediate runs and more challenging black diamonds, the snow is consistently good, and the lines at the lifts are almost never longer than just a few people. Best of all, for a sport that’s not exactly known for being affordable, the skiing here is pretty cheap (day passes are $48, and season passes start at $199).

This year, Bogus already has a great base (25 inches), and 10 new inches of fresh powder have fallen in the past few days—just in time for opening day, on Thanksgiving. Like most people, we’ll be sitting around the dinner table eating more than we should that day. And while we’re thrilled to be spending the holiday with our families, we can’t pretend there’s not a tiny part of us that wouldn’t love to be at Bogus, schussing down the slopes with the locals.

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Tri Harder

Our trip to Scottsdale last week included more than just swimming. We were there to learn about all three sports that make up a triathlon—running, cycling and swimming, plus how to properly set up your transition area. The whole idea is to make the process as easy and non-intimidating as possible so that you’re not freaked out before you even begin. One of the biggest ways to clear your head is to give yourself as much prep time as possible on race day.

First, you’ve got to be smart about setting up your transition area. Arrive with plenty of time to organize your gear accordingly.

The beautiful Specialized bicycles waiting for us in our transition.

When setting up your transition area, you’ve got to think about what’s going to make your switch out as fast and simple as possible. Turn your helmet upside down so that you can literally pick it up and put it directly on your head, stick your sunglasses inside the helmet, unstrap your cycling shoes so that you can slip them on quickly, and put your cycling gear in front of your running stuff, since that portion comes first. When figuring out what to actually wear, here are a few thoughts:

1. If you can, opt for a triathlon-specific cycling shoe. These tend to be more breathable and are intended to be worn without socks. Specialized is coming out with a sport version of its Trivent Shoe for spring 2011 that we love. It is super comfortable, easy to walk around in, can be used with either a mountain bike or road cycling cleat and features a long strap at the heel to help you pull the shoe on fast, which is especially helpful when you’ve got wet feet.

2. Wear running sneakers that are supportive, lightweight and breathable, with a lot of mesh. The shoes you train in should be the same ones you wear on race day, so practice wearing them without socks during training. It’s so much easier to slip on a pair of sneakers without the socks, but the last thing you want is to develop blisters because your shoes rub against your feet the wrong way.

3. If you’re doing a sprint triathlon, don’t worry about the gloves. Squeezing your fingers into a pair when your hands are still kinda wet can be tricky and totally slow you down.

4. Invest in a wet suit. BlueSeventy makes some great ones with every bit of technology you’ll ever need. The suit will help you stay afloat in the water and keep you warm when it’s cold. Plus, you can wear your tri shorts underneath (check out SheBeest for recommendations) so you don’t have to wear your bathing suit on the bike.

Once you feel like your transition area is all set,  you have to get in a good warm-up. Coach Barrie told us that in order to be ready for a triathlon, we should aim to warm up for a good 45 minutes before the race even begins! First, ride your bike around for a few minutes, check your brakes, make sure you’re in an appropriate gear for the start of the race (for example, if there’s a hill to climb at the start, drop your gears down low, if you’re on a downhill, put it into high gear, etc.).

We were riding the new Specialized Dolce, which is a smooth ride with all the gears you need.

To warm up your running legs, do a few easy drills. A-skips, B-skips, butt kicks and grapevines are great to get the blood flowing and all your muscles moving. Check these drills out at Fitnessmagazine.com. Finally, swim a couple of laps, if possible. If not, bring a resistance band with you, wrap it around a tree, grab one end in each hand and practice doing your stroke (on both sides) with the added resistance in front of the tree.

Last, but not least, practice running from where you exit the water to your transition. Make sure you know exactly where your bike is amidst the craziness, because it’s easy to get turned around after your swim.

Oh, wait—one more: Relax, breathe deep and think about how much fun you’re about to have…

The group, post-ride. Look at those smiles!

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Need to hydrate? Here’s a hint…

It happens every year. The weather turns chilly, the heat goes on, and and the air in the house turns as dry as a dessert. Maybe that’s why we’ve been on such a big hydration kick lately, touting our favorite sports drink, our favorite probiotic drink, and a few of our favorite give-your-water-some-personality recipes. Well, we have a new favorite to add to the list. It’s called Hint water, and we can’t seem to stop drinking it.

See how nice and clear it is? That's because there's nothing scary in there, just water and a bit of natural flavoring.

Too many of the so-called “waters” out there are laden with sugar and artificial flavors, but Hint is exactly the opposite: pure, simple water with just the tiniest, well, hint of flavor. No calories, no sweeteners, no artificial anything. There are 10 flavors, some focusing on one ingredient, like Cucumber, Blackberry, or Pear, and others fun combos, like Honeydew-Hibsicus, Mango-Grapefruit, and Pomegranate-Tangerine. Right now we’re particularly digging the Watermelon flavor.

We have a feeling Hint is going to become a winter staple for us. Actually, scratch that—it’s going to be a year-round staple. We’ll definitely continue to make our own flavored waters once berry season rolls around again, but Hint is the perfect substitute for that when we’re crunched for time or on the go.

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Swim Clinic

There’s something intimidating about hopping in a lake with hundreds of people and swimming out to a buoy about a mile away. Maybe it’s our fear of drowning, our lack of swimming skills or merely our desire to not get kicked in the face, ever. Whatever it is, we’ve always admired triathletes who have the ability to get past the fear and dive right in. The reality is that if you’re not comfortable swimming in a pool by yourself, chances are you’re probably not going to feel stellar in a crowded, splash-happy scenario. This is why we’re determined to work on our form until we get it right and have as much confidence in our ability to complete the swim portion of a triathlon as we do in our ability to do the running and cycling portions.

Step one: Develop skills with a coach. We’re doing a mini triathlon-training clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, right now, trying to soak up as much information (and sun!) as possible. The resort where we’re staying, The Phoenician, has more than five gorgeous pools to choose from when trying to do laps, which doesn’t hurt the motivation factor either. Coach Barrie Shepley, who trains Olympians, first-time-triathletes and everything in between, has shared tons of great tips with us so far, including some pretty amazing, easy-to-follow swimming drills. We’re psyched to do these over and over and over again:

1. Catch up. Swim freestyle across the pool, but each time you stroke, wait to push your forward arm behind you until your back hand reaches forward and touches your front hand (touch hands in front of you, push arm back; touch hands, push arm back).

2. Double touch. Each time you bring your arm forward, tap your palm on the surface of the water two times before pushing that arm behind you in the pool and bringing your other arm forward.

3. Side swim. Swim across pool with sides of body parallel to its bottom, keeping top arm by thighs and other arm extended under head. Breathe out as you kick through hips, and then switch arms, rotate body, inhale and repeat on other side. Keep breathing!

4. Push back. Most of your forward momentum when you’re swimming comes from your arms, not your legs. It’s really the resistance you collect from the water that keeps you moving in the right direction. One tip is to imagine literally pushing water behind you and up by your waistline each time you stroke.

Other useful swim tips: Keep your head and neck down and relaxed, with your eyes focused a few feet in front of you. Also try to breathe as consistently as possible. Oh- and just because you’re in the water it doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated—remember to sip enough water to stay in the zone.

As you know, the tri includes more than just swimming, so we’ve somehow managed to sign up for running and cycling as well (stay tuned for pictures and details from our pseudo mini-tri soon!).

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‘Tis the Season

Yeah, yeah, Christmas is right around the corner, but that’s not the season has us all abuzz right now. Ski season has already arrived, and we couldn’t be more excited. We fully intend to take advantage of our new home (only an hour from Mt. Hood) and our new cars (Subarus, the next best thing to snowmobiles) to help us work in some serious slope time this winter. Lucky for us, it’s already shaping up to be a great season. Mt. Hood opened before Halloween this year—only the third time in 50 years—and we keep hearing predictions of lots and lots more snow over the next several months.

So in honor of ski season, we thought we’d kick off a series of posts devoted to our favorite ski areas around the country. And where better to start than with our hometown hero?

We took this shot of Mt. Hood last year, during a scouting trip to Oregon to see if it was the right fit for us. Seems like so long ago!

Mt. Hood:

Basics: The snow might not always be the glorious powder you’ll find on other mountains in the west, but the mountain is close by (well, if you’re us), low-key, and the runs are perfectly skiable. There are five different ski areas, including Ski Bowl, which has the largest night-ski area in the country (34 nicely lighted runs), and Summit Ski Area, which has been around since 1927, making it the oldest ski area in the Pacific Northwest. We skied Ski Bowl last winter, and even though it was icy as all get out, we had a great time.

Where to stay: The exterior shots for the hotel in The Shining were filmed at Timberline Lodge, but don’t let that scare you away. Built in the 1930s, this place is the ultimate mountain lodge. It still has tons of old-school charm, from the stairs leading up to the grand entrance, to the super-cozy rooms, with knotty-pine walls and handmade rustic furniture (rooms start at $120).

Don’t miss: Ice Axe Grill, on Mt. Hood’s south slope, is the perfect apres-ski spot. The menu is full of dishes made with local ingredients, and the beers are all made by Mt. Hood Brewery, housed in the same building.

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Starbucks saves the day

We know that we’re not supposed to like Starbucks. We do live in a prime coffee capital after all. And while we’re all for supporting our local coffee shops (we’ve especially been loving Crema and Coava lately), it’s not too easy to go local when you’re on-the-go. Searching for a healthy (not to mention somewhat tasty) breakfast option in the airport can be next to impossible. That’s why we’re admittedly in love with Starbucks’ oatmeal. Today we brought in a banana from home and mixed it in with our oatmeal and nuts. This instant meal contains protein, grains, fiber and fruit. You can’t get much better than that before getting on a plane! No stale bagel or egg and cheese biscuit even compares. So while we’d prefer to get our brew from somewhere less corporate, we can’t help but hit up Starbucks before heading to our gate almost every time we fly.

Another surprise in the Portland airport exists at the Seattle’s Best Coffee stand. Their low-fat, vegan blueberry muffin is actually amazingly delicious. We ordered it precociously, not sure what to expect, but it was hearty, filled with blueberries, and just sweet enough to make us smile. It’s another super-filling, healthy, totally satisfying way to start your day.

So here’s our strategy: Simply grab your oatmeal or muffin and coffee (or if you’re like us, a large americano) and then peruse used books at Powell’s bookstore for a little while—you’ll feel like a local (a healthier one, too) again in no time.

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Holiday helper

Less than two weeks until Thanksgiving! You probably know by now that we’re mildly obsessed with food, so it goes without saying that this is one of our favorite holidays of the year. Turkey! Stuffing! Gravy! Pies, pies, and more pies!

But the combination of the big feast, a few days of rich, heavy leftovers, and traveling back and forth to spend the holiday with family can take a toll on your body—especially since we’re heading straight into flu season, and airports are positively teeming with germs.

Never fear: We have a solution that takes care of both the digestion issues and the staying-healthy part. It’s called Pre Probiotic Enhancer, and it’s kind of genius. Made of organic juice and a special prebiotic formula, the drink triggers the growth of good bacteria called probiotics (these are already in your body; the drink just helps them multiply). As these bacteria increase, your resistance to bad bacteria becomes even stronger. The end result? A balanced digestive system and a boosted immune system. In other words, a holiday lifesaver.

There are three versions of the drink: The original Probiotic Enhancer, available in Acai, Pomegranate Blueberry, and Passion Orange Guava:

The 10-calorie version (made with stevia, a natural sweetener), available in Peach Mango, Pomegranate Yumberry (at first we thought this was just a fun name for mixed berry, but turns out it’s actually a subtropical fruit that’s packed with antioxidants), Pomegranate White Tea, and Pomegranate Blueberry:

And a powder version, available in Acai Acerola, Pomegranate Blueberry, Passion Orange Guava, and Pomegranate Yumberry:

Honestly, we’d drink this stuff just for the benefits even if it tasted just mediocre, but it’s actually good! We’re especially fond of the Passion Orange Guava flavor. The bottles are great to just grab and go, and the powder mix is ideal for traveling—lightweight, easy to pack, and not on TSA’s list of things to take away from you at the security gate.

We have a feeling we’ll be drinking this stuff from now until New Year’s—and probably beyond!

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Vegan Treats

We know what you’re thinking—those two words aren’t usually placed side by side. However, we’ve discovered that not everything has to contain dairy to be delicious. Shocker! Not only are there some absolutely amazing vegan restaurants popping up all over the place, but there are also some really good cookbooks, like Easy Vegan: Simple Recipes for Healthy Eating, out there to help you make tasty meals and munchies at home, too. We made the Chickpea, Cherry Tomato and Green Bean Minestrone soup on page 15 the other night for dinner, and it was scrumptious—and easy! A combination we could get used to.

And today, when we were getting ready for the gym and knew we needed a little something to hold us over before hitting the elliptical, we checked out the cookbook once again. These Peanut Butter Bars only took about 20 minutes to make (and one minute to eat). They were the perfect pre-workout snack:

4 Tbsp organic crunchy peanut butter

4 Tbsp light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups whole rolled oats

1/3 cup golden raisins

1 Tbsp whole-wheat flour

Preheat oven to 375′F. Put peanut butter and corn syrup in a saucepan and heat gently until melted, about 3 minutes. Add oats, golden raisins and flour, and stir well until mixed and has consistency of bread crumbs.

Pour mixture into 6×9-inch nonstick cake pan and press in with back of a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes. Cut into bars while still warm, then allow to cool before removing from pan.

 

These bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, so make them now, and you’ll have some to snack on during holiday travels!

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