Candlelight Hike at Fort Stevenson

On Saturday, January 23, I headed over to the other side of Lake Sakakawea, just outside of Garrison, ND, to Fort Stevenson for their Candlelight Night Hike.

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I saw this event on their Facebook page. It was an invitation to come try out the trails in their park by hiking, snow shoeing or cross country skiing. The event ran 5-7 p.m. and they lit up the path with candles along with some help from the full moon. Earlier in the day, they had events for the kids including sledding and making snowmen. We arrived to a happy and welcoming staff telling us all about where we we should go. Everything was totally free this day, including our snow shoe rental. I was pretty excited with the park ranger told us they also had some fat tire bikes that we could use for free this day as well. The weather was awesome, a bit breezy but 40 degrees and sunny. We figured out how to get strapped into our shoes and set out on about a mile loop. We had to detour for a few photo opportunities. I went with my friends Jess and Joel and met up with my Mom and a friend, Crystal. Fun group! Jess, Joel and Crystal all had their own snow shoes. The shoes we rented were older style but did the trick as far as I know. It was my first time!

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Snow selfie! Joe, Jess, me and Crystal. My Mom was apparently on a mission and went a million miles ahead of us. We decided to take a break to get some photos of Lake Sakakawea and the sunset.

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Here I am checking to make sure my phone is working. Very important while my Mom is strapping into her shoes.

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Photo credit of these two above to Jess. She was trying to get the timer to go on the three of us but it wasn’t working. We took the fat tire bikes out a loop to go look at the house boats and sailboats that were parked for the winter. It is nice to dream about having one of those.

I had never ridden a fat bike tire but I’ve seen them around a lot in the past few years. These are heavy, more sturdy mountain bikes in my (non) professional opinion. The tires are, well – fat, and they allow excellent traction in the snow. It is almost like you float on top of the snow. I had a blast going through snow banks and now of course, want one. Like most bikes you can get a starter for a few hundred but these bikes really go up in price. Fort Stevenson has these on hand, adult and kid sizes for rent. I highly recommend these. They’d be fun to bike around for an afternoon.

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The photo above is looking south from Fort Stevenson towards Riverdale/Pick City. Sakakawea is so massive!

Give Fort Stevenson, or any other of our ND state parks a try. Many of them have rentals for summer or winter activities and the guides are always so nice and ready to answer any questions. Thanks for the great evening, Fort Stevenson. The snacks (chili, snack mix, cookies, S’mores and more!!) and bon fire were greatly appreciated!

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Burger in a bag

This was a fun, new recipe for me to try. Are you familiar at all with walking tacos or tacos in a bag? These are exceedingly popular at sporting or community events where I live. It is simply a single serve bag of nacho chips topped with ground taco seasoned beef and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, taco sauce and whatever other taco toppings you like. You can squish it and mix it all together in the bag for easy and tasty transportation.

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My friend, Prairie Style Files (hi Alicia!), recently posted about a little deli (Favorites Drive Thru Deli) in Breckenridge, MN who serves up a burger in a bag. All the burger fixings on a bed of Funyuns. I knew needed this meal in my life. I don’t have any plans to travel to Breck in the near future, so I decided to come up with my own spin on this idea.

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Instead of buying a single serving bag of Funyuns, I bought one normal sized bag of Bugles. Bugles were on sale and they remind me of my Grandma Florence. She always had them at her house and I haven’t eaten them in years. Bugles it was. Funyuns would be great here and I think even just plain rippled potato chips would work too. I wanted a loose meat type of topping to go on my Bugles and came up with this recipe combining some tastes of Maid Rites and Slushburgers (aka sloppy joes). I think they turned out great.

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Burger in a Bag

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 small-medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard

Brown ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat in a large skillet. Drain grease if needed. Add other ingredients and simmer about 5-10 minutes. Serve over the base(below) and add toppings as you please.

  • Base: Bugles or Funyuns
  • Toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, picks, onions, cheese, mayo and more mustard and ketchup to your liking.

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You will want to put the chips on the bottom and the meat immediately on top to soften up the chips. Next add the cheese so it melts and the rest of the toppings can be added however you like.

Please give this recipe a try. I bet kids would love customizing their own “burgers” and if you need a new twist on tacos in a bag, this would be a great alternative.

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I have to mention, I accidentally dropped some meat on the floor and this is definitely yellow labrador approved. Thanks, Winston!

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Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish, Salad | 1 Comment

Weekly workouts

Right now, I am hopefully laying by the pool with a cocktail in hand not doing much. But I scheduled this content to go up while I am away on vacation. I remembered to track a week of workouts and thought I’d share them here. I enjoy seeing what other people do for workouts and I like to look back on what I do. I thought I really “nailed” it this week so it was a good one to share. (Just being honest!)

WeeklyWorkouts

Monday: Morning weights (arms – easy) at LOS (that is my work) gym and after work 35 minute elliptical and 35 minute bike at Surge Fitness (the gym in Hazen).

Tuesday: Morning run at Surge with speed work. I laugh as I type that, I am not speedy but working on that a bit. One hour total. I like to take advantage of the WiFi and catch up on social media if I have time to walk/cooldown.

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Wednesday: Morning weights (upper body – easy) at LOS. After work I biked 21.5 miles doing a lot of intervals and speed work. I felt GREAT after this workout. Fast times for me.

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Thursday: Morning run at LOS, 50 minutes. This run was awful – it just wasn’t my day. Not feeling it. This might have been due in part to the biking the evening before.

Friday: Morning weights (legs – heavy/hard) at LOS.

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Saturday: Morning run, one hour at Surge. Drove over to Beulah for a 45 minute spin class. Went snow shoeing/biking with friends probably a couple miles. (Recap to come!)

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Sunday: Rest/lazy/clean house/watch TV.

Enjoy your week. I’m hopefully getting in a lot of relaxing and lounging but doing a few workouts at the onsite gym. I’ll let you know. Enjoy!

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Spiralized sweet potato pizza bake

I broke out my seriously loved and trusted, handed down from my grandmother cast iron pan for this sweet potato pizza bake. It is the perfect vessel for cooking and then popping into the oven. Your only concern might be lifting it when it is full as this sucker is sturdy!

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This recipe is “inspired” by Alli who runs Inspiralized.com. Her story of beginning her business, getting healthy, creating her own spiralizer and then a cookbook is awesome. She is young and determined and I love that those traits come out in her writing.

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Since it is the middle of winter and sweet potatoes have been affordable, I spied her Spiralized Sweet Potato Pizza Bake with Turkey Bacon and gave it my own spin based on what I had available. Here is my take on her recipe.

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Spiralized Sweet Potato Pizza Bake, serves 4 very generously

Ingredients

For the sweet potatoes:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, spiralized
  • Garlic salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

For the casserole:

  • 1/2 – 3/4 pound cooked, crumbled & drained spicy sausage (I used pork)
  • 1.5 cups marinara sauce (I used homemade with onions and peppers in it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, to garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease a 10” cast-iron skillet or square casserole dish.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the sweet potato noodles and season with garlic salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add in red pepper flakes if you choose. Let cook for about 5-7 minutes or until noodles begin to soften.
  3. Add in your sausage and heat through about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and pour the marinara on top. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly on top and sprinkle dried oregano over the cheese.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese melts through and is slightly golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven, garnish with parmesan cheese.

Leftovers freeze well in airtight containers.

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Cooking on the stovetop and into the oven.

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You have to get that cheese golden with just a slight crunch. Broil for a minute if you have to! Fresh mozzarella would be awesome on this but I took the economical route.

I must admit I was a bit skeptical how this would turn out. First, would the potatoes really cook in that short amount of time? They do! Since they are spiralized they cook up so quickly. Would the sweet match the slightly sweet and acidic tomato sauce and spicy sausage? Perfect match. Even my husband who isn’t a big fan of sweet potatoes likes this meal. If pressed, I am not sure he would have known they were in the casserole.

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This is great for a quick weeknight meal on a cold, winter night. Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish, Veggie | 1 Comment

New food finds

I recently acquired three new food things that I hope revolutionize the way I eat in 2016. OK, revolutionize is a bit dramatic, but I think these 3 things will help me with eating a diet filled mostly with healthy and nutritious foods. I’ll never stop loving pizza and a big old burger, I’m not quitting sugar or white flour, but the older I get, the more I realize what my body craves and what makes me feel good physically and mentally. Sadly, it isn’t really craving Stove Top stuffing or Cheez Its. I’m definitely not a food snob and to each their own. I am a firm believer in Weight Watchers, Paleo, Jenny Craig, Yoga, Cycling, CrossFit or whatever way of eating or exercising you prefer. We all respond differently to different things and that is why we have so many options. This is a constant learning process for me and apparently America since a few years ago it was no carbs, no butter and everything with sugar was OK. Uff da. Right now, for me, I am craving meats, beans, grains, eggs, some dairy and a lot of vegetables with a bit of fruit in the mix. Whole foods!

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Spiralizer

There are plenty of gadgets available online to spiralize your food. This gadget is useful for making spirals or thin shapes out of vegetables and fruit making them an excellent nutritional substitute for pasta. I personally have never been a big pasta fan and don’t care for the way it makes me feel after eating it. Spiralizing your veggies adds bulk to your meal (I am a volume eater) and it also makes it look appealing. I was gift the Mueller 8-in-1 for Christmas and it works great while taking up hardly any cabinet space. It is very compact but can spiralize, grate, juice and serve as a mandolin. Other options are out there and there is even a website dedicated to just Spiralized recipes and she sells her own spiralizer as well. I’m looking forward to creating new recipes for us and spiralizing all the veggies I get my hands on.

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Instant Pot

I became aware of the Instant Pot a while ago while watching a You Tube video about vegan eating. They had a few Instant Pots always full of rice and beans and were expressing how wonderful these tools were. They looked like Crock Pots to me so I didn’t think much of it. Then, I saw the Instant Pot pop up in Paleo type of meals where it was revered for quick cooking (I’m talking like a roast in 25 minutes, ribs in 40 minutes, chicken breast in 10, etc.) This really caught my eye. I looked more and more into the Instant Pot and it was very attractive to me. This is a multifunctional kitchen tool available in a few different sizes and price ranges. Through work, I purchased the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker 6Qt/1000W, Stainless Steel Cooking Pot and Exterior for about $120. The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté/browning, yogurt maker, steamer and warmer. I have a lot to learn – I’ve only so far made excellent beans, roasted a chicken and steamed hard boiled eggs. I’ve been reading a lot about recipes to make and have several book marked.

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CSA share

When we lived in Fargo 5 years ago, CSA (community supported agriculture) was becoming more popular. We actually bought a share in a local farm but had to cancel once we decided to move to Hazen. Lucky for me, my husband has quite the green thumb and we have had a garden full of veggies since we have lived here that we eat through the summer and winter via canning. Of course, the garden doesn’t get planted until late May and we don’t get to harvest it for a few more months. The “eating” season for fresh veggies is very short. This year, we went with our friends and purchased a whole share in a CSA that we will split. This will hopefully work great because we can get produce sooner and longer throughout the year, we can share with our friends if we don’t want/like something and they do, and we can switch off weeks picking up the produce depending if we are around/busy or not. Win/win/win. The cost is $350 per couple and the way some produce is priced you really can’t beat that cost. I hope to post a few baskets this summer of what we receive and what I cook. The best thing is Forager Farm has a drop in Hazen so we have no excuse not to participate.

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So with those three purchases, we are really set up for some good eats. I just need to find someone who can provide me with local eggs next. I have seen a few posts on Facebook, I just have to follow through since the pickup times haven’t worked for me in the past. I feel these things will also allow be to cook in bulk to have leftovers and cook once, eat two or three times. Here’s to happy, healthy eating!

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Mexican Smashed Sweet Potato

When I am working out, I am constantly thinking. Usually of my to-do list, what I should clean at home and most often, what I should eat next. It’s true! Such was the case when I came up with this idea for dinner. It’s basically a twice cooked sweet potato topped with all my Mexican favorites – guacamole, salsa, cilantro, jalapenos and more.

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This is mostly just a dinner idea – you could customize these potatoes any way you’d like. I think they’d be great topped with buffalo chicken, cumin spiced ground beef or some cheese and veggies. If you don’t want to load the potato, they make a perfect side dish.

Mexican Smashed Sweet Potato

  • 1 medium sweet potato – baked or boiled
  • olive oil, salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450F. Quarter or cut into small pieces your potato. This also works for white potatoes but the baking time will differ. Using a fork, smash the potato so it is flat. Spray lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, with the last 5 minutes on broil. – Note that baking times may vary, it really depends on the moisture content of your potato.

Mexican toppings

  • Chopped, cooked chicken breast
  • Cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Tomatoes, green onion, hot sauce, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, cottage cheese or sour cream – whatever you like

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The potatoes before and after. I spritzed them with my Misto olive oil sprayer. It is pretty cool, it basically pressurizes the olive oil so it sprays like Pam baking spray, letting you use less oil than if you drizzle the potatoes. I sprinkled mine with black pepper and lime salt.

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I snagged this guacamole/spicy pico combo at the store and it is delicious. Great kick!

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My potato toppings assembled and ready for eating!

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The smashed potato. They harden up and the surface where you smashed it down gets crispy – great textures.

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I like to use a little dollop of cottage cheese instead of sour cream. Yum.

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Devoured this! Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea | 3 Comments

Foot update II

It was way back at the beginning of December when I shared a bit about my ongoing foot pain and plantar fasciitis diagnosis. This is something I have been dealing with since July, 2015. My initial consult (after hoping I’d heal on my own, haha) was in November. I went for another check up with the podiatrist in December. Thankfully, he comes to Hazen once a month so I don’t have to travel to Bismarck to see him. He asked me what percentage I thought I had improved and I said maybe 20%. It was better but not good. He examined me and thought I was more like 50+% better. He recommended I see a physical therapist and continue with what he had previously prescribed.

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I went to the physical therapist the next week. After he examined me, he told me the following.

My left foot is probably experiencing this issue/pain because:

  1. I have some tight tension points in my left calf
  2. My left arch is weak (and I guess I have kind of high arches so this is also a factor)
  3. My right hip is weak

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Please note those are NOT my legs!

For treatment he prescribed:

  1. 6 shots of dry needling in my left calf muscles to relieve some of the tension. He said he could massage it but this was more effective. It was only slightly uncomfortable and I only bled 1 drop. It was almost like acupuncture. I could feel immediate relief. It was weird, but also kind of neat?
  2. Stretches to do every day at home for my calf, arch and hip. (Gastroc Stretch, Soleus Stretch, Tibialis Posterior Strengthening and Hip Abduction using a band.)
  3. Keep wearing the splint every night and shoes at all times.
  4. Start doing some walking / running on the treadmill increasing slowly to build up my muscle.
  5. See him again if I feel I need to.

He said it is a slow process to heal but I am strong and if I keep stretching I should get there. I felt pretty optimistic for the first time since this started. He told me not to be scared and go for it.

At the beginning of 2016, I started running again. I have done my best to workout as I normally did (prior to stopping running in mid-October), just subbing other cardio for running. My friend who has run 20+ races (half and full marathons) was helping me with a plan to get back going strong again. I am trying to run three times a week with the goal of upping my pace and distance gradually. So far my foot has felt great while running. The only pain I specifically notice is if I have a day where I am standing a lot. I am working on wearing my shoes a bit less at home. We have a vacation to Mexico in just over a week and I don’t want to wear shoes all the time.

My most recent (and I hope final) appointment with the podiatrist was January 19. I told him I felt about 90%. The pain is still there at times but I know what I need to do to make it better. He is encouraging me to wear the splint less and keep up with my exercise. I just can’t go from 0-100 and must listen to my body. He was happy for me and I left encouraged things will be better.

Kind of a side note, but he recommended this cream and it is amazing for dry feet and making your calluses smaller. I think it is OTC available and has been awesome. A little goes a long way.

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Here is to some happy adventuring, running, cycling, walking and more, specifically stretching, for 2016. The most important things I learned from this was to listen to my body and to take it easier on myself.

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Oh and also, be thankful for my health – even with insurance this stuff if $$ – don’t be afraid to seek help right away. #lessonslearned

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