Saturday, June 21, 2014

Superfood-Packed Roasted Tofu and Brown Rice

Hi there!  Hope you are having a fabulous weekend!  We are finally getting back into the swing of things over here, just in time to go on another trip.  We leave for Indianapolis on Tuesday so that Jay can attend a conference for work.  (But I'm sure we'll have time to squeeze in some fun things, too!)

I was talking to my mom yesterday over lunch and pedicures (not a bad Friday) about how it is so much harder than it seems to get things done in the summer.  Don't get me wrong, I would NEVER complain about having my summers off.  I've just come to realize that I am a much more productive person when I am in a routine.

I keep thinking I have all the time in the world to work out or make a nice dinner or write a blog post, but, when there is no set schedule, it is amazing how the day can just disappear.  I have no idea what has been happening to my time!

To get back on track, Jay and I have started doing a P90X3 workout program that comes with a calendar, so it tells you which workouts to do on which days.  I've also been trying to do a better job of planning out our meals.  Instead of throwing together another last minute "big bowl" (which has happened a lot over the past few days), last night I actually took the time to press some tofu and create a new recipe.  I decided that we were in serious need of turmeric back in our lives, so I came up with an Indian-ish meal that was full of the healthiest spices and veggies in the world.  It hit the spot!
One Pot Roasted Tofu & Brown Rice
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 2-4

For the tofu:
1 package extra firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

For the rice/veggie mix:
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 can (13.5 oz. or 2 cups) light coconut milk
1 cup fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup long-grain brown rice
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
1 small bunch kale, chopped

Optional toppings:
Chopped green onions
Chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 425.  Toss the cubed tofu in the soy sauce/Sriracha/nutritional yeast mixture.  (If you have time, you can let it sit there and marinate for a while.)  Place cubes on a greased cooking sheet and bake for approximately 40 minutes, stirring once. (I line mine with foil for easy clean-up.)
Meanwhile, saute garlic and ginger in a large pan over medium heat in a little olive oil until fragrant.  Add the coconut milk, diced tomatoes, water, peanut butter, and spices.  Bring to a boil.  Add in 3/4 cup brown rice, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for approximately 45 minutes, or until rice is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed.  (You can add more water if it gets too thick.)

Add in your broccoli and kale for the last 15 minutes or so of cooking.  Or, substitute in the veggies of your choice.  Most anything would work!

Serve the roasted tofu atop the rice mixture and garnish with your favorite toppings.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Alaska Vacation Recap

Jay and I are finally home and settled in from our 10-day (turned 11 thanks to issues with our flights) Alaskan adventure. We had a wonderful time sightseeing all across Alaska and and a bit of Canada.

We started the trip with one night in Anchorage, but the vacation really got started the next day when we hopped on a bus and headed south to Seward.

The drive to Seward was one of the most scenic I've ever taken, and it was even better when the bus driver stopped to let us look around a wildlife refuge for a while on the way. I got up close and personal with moose, bison, and elk, and we even caught a glimpse of a black bear. The scenery at the refuge was so beautiful, and it was a major highlight of the trip for me.
Seward was my favorite city out of all the the ones we visited. It was so quaint with super-friendly people and the most spectacular views. Our first afternoon, Jay and I went for a hike that turned into a much longer expedition than we anticipated. The views kept getting more and more amazing, so we just kept climbing up the steep trail of Mount Marathon. We ended up covering close to seven miles, and, although I was so exhausted I could barely even walk by the time we got down, it was well worth the effort.
The next day, we strapped our hiking boots back on and met up with some professional guides to go ice-climbing on Exit Glacier. After a beautiful 2.5 mile hike up the mountain to the glacier, we changed into special ice boots with crampons (spiky metal points that strap onto the the bottom of the boots).
We spent some time clomping around the huge glacier, and then took turns climbing up steep walls and down into deep crevices in the ice. It was a little scary but so, so cool. The guides did a great job of coaching us and keeping us safe, and I cannot say enough good things about the whole experience.

From Seward, we boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise to start heading down the coast of Alaska. I had never been on a cruise before and wasn't really sure what to expect, but, for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised.
Our fellow passengers were friendly, the room was small but really nice and comfortable, the staff was amazing, and the food was top-notch.

We did feel a bit limited by the breakfast selections, but the lunches and dinners were always of the highest quality with lots of variety and healthy options. Our waiter at dinner quickly caught on to the fact that we weren't big meat eaters, and he informed us that there was a rotating vegetarian Indian curry dish every night that was not listed on the menu. We ordered the secret Indian food on numerous occasions, as well as plenty of other delicious dishes.
While there was tons to do on the boat, Jay and I both agreed that we were glad we only spent two whole days cruising out of our seven. We might have gone a little stir-crazy if we were stuck on the boat for multiple days at a time.

While on the boat, the scenery helped keep us entertained, especially on the first day when we got up close to the spectacular Hubbard Glacier.
We filled the rest of our boat time relaxing on the deck, going to the gym, participating in numerous trivia games (we always came SO CLOSE but never won), playing mini-golf, rock-climbing, and swimming.
The cruise stopped in four different cities before ending in Vancouver.

One of my favorite stops! We took a shuttle to the Mendenhall glacier, and, even though it was our third glacier, we were still amazed at how cool it was. We hiked right up close to it and then continued hiking on a nearby mountain. The forest was one of the lushest and greenest I have ever seen.
We also did some shopping around town and hit up a couple of famous local saloons for a drink. It was the prefect combination of physical activity and relaxation.

We started our morning in the old mining town of Skagway with a trip on the famous White Pass scenic railway, which goes straight up into the mountains to an elevation of 2,865 feet. The views were amazing!
We spent the rest of the day exploring the town, visiting an old gold-rush cemetery, and hiking.

Icy Straight Point
We didn't think Icy Straight Point would be too exciting, since there isn't much to do in the town unless you pre-booked an excursion (which we hadn't done). We walked around the little touristy area for a bit and then got on a shuttle to a nearby fishing village. As we were making our way up the coast, the driver stopped to let the passengers snap a picture of a bald eagle that was perched close to the road. While everyone was photographing the eagle, I noticed a ring of bubbles forming in the water just a few feet away. All of a sudden, a huge humpback whale jumped up through the bubbles with his mouth wide open to catch the fish. I think the whole bus was in shock!
The whale ended up hanging around the area most of the day, and Jay and I spent our time running up and down the shore trying to get good looks at it. We were so glad that we hadn't spent hundred of dollars on a whale-watching tour, since we got the best views right from the land!

Unfortunately we arrived a little too early in the year to see the salmon spawning in Ketchikan, but we did manage to find a good hiking trail and do some shopping while we were here. There were a few neat things to see, but overall it was not one of our favorite cities.

We ended our trip with two days in Vancouver, Canada. After all of the small towns, it was a nice change to be in a big, bustling city. Our favorite part was renting bicycles and riding around Stanley Park, one of Vancouver's most scenic areas.
This vacation was one of my favorites, but, after a rough 24 hours of traveling, it is so good to be back home with the pups!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Blueberry Muffin Baked Oatmeal

Good morning!

Now that summer has arrived, I finally have time to make breakfast again.  During the work week, usually all I have time for is a quick bowl of cereal before hitting the road.  I absolutely LOVE having more leisurely mornings to eat a good breakfast and sip coffee for as long as I want.

We have a lot of food to eat up before we leave for Alaska tomorrow (!!), so yesterday morning I put together a baked oatmeal dish (similar to my beloved banana version) that included lots of blueberries, since that's what we needed to use.  The result was somewhere between a regular bowl of oatmeal, a hearty blueberry muffin, and a not-so-sweet blueberry crisp.  The crunchy brown sugar on top really makes the recipe.  It would be amazing with a spread of peanut butter at the end.
Blueberry Muffin Baked Oatmeal
(serves 3-4)

2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup (heaping) blueberries
2 tbsp brown sugar


1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Combine oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nuts.

3. Combine egg, milk, vanilla, and honey.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Add blueberries.  Mix well

5. Line an 8″ pan (square or round) with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan.

6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

7. After 25 minutes, increase heat to broil, sprinkle with 2 tbsp brown sugar, and broil for 2-3 minutes. (Careful not to burn!)

8. Serve and eat!

Although we have been done teaching for a little over a week now, I feel like our pace of life is just now starting to finally slow down.  Jay and I both had some work meetings to attend last week, plus tons of other to-dos that seemed to keep us busy non-stop.  Makes me wonder how we ever had time to work!  I can't wait to get to Alaska and really start enjoying our summer break!

I don't know how much internet access we will have throughout our trip, but I will try to pop in with an update at some point.

See ya later!