Asian Lettuce Wraps

Continuing with a theme – another easy, weeknight recipe that is tasty but healthy. We have a LOT of ground beef as we butcher our own. However, these wraps could be made just the same with ground turkey, chicken, pork or tofu crumbles.

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I served these with a side of steamed edamame and it was a great, filling meal. Here is the secret shortcut:CauliRice

Riced cauliflower. This is lower in calories and carbs then traditional rice and better yet, it is made in about 4 minutes in the microwave. The rice is already seasoned in a teriyaki glaze, ready to go. I got these at Sam’s Club.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients for 4 servings 

  • 1 lb ground meat or tofu
  • 1 teaspoon dried garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 – 4 oz. package cauliflower rice with Teriyaki sauce, cooked
  • Romaine or bibb lettuce leaves

Brown the meat in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add all the ingredients up through the cauli rice and cook another 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Serve the meat and cauliflower rice mixture with the lettuce leaves. Top with Sriracha or more soy sauce. Serve with steamed edamame or other veggies.

This recipe almost makes you feel like you are dining out. It comes together quick, is salty, sweet and satisfying. Enjoy!

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Resolution Run 10k – Fargodome, 2018

My first race of the year was the Resolution Run 10k in the Fargodome on Saturday, January 6, 2018. This race was held inside, running laps on the concourse level. For those not familiar, the concourse is the cement upper ring of the dome when you walk in on ground level. The lower level is the field/concert area. (Also as a side note, this isn’t turning into a running blog, this is my last run event to catch up on and then more food or other events should be coming up!)

This race was put on by Go Far Events or the group that organizes the Fargo Marathon that most people are familiar with. I had not heard anything about this run until the Thursday prior. I was going to be traveling to Fargo for our niece’s baby shower, so I signed up for the 10k knowing I’d want some exercise and this was all indoors with temps forecasted to be -20F windchill. No brainer!

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I signed up online, $35 and easy process. My sister joined me as my cheerleader and we checked in about a half hour early to grab a bib, check my coat and get situated. The director gathered us about 5 minutes before the start and explained we were responsible for counting 21 laps around the concourse and continuing on to the finish line. The race was not officially timed but there was a clock at the finish to record our time. My watch doesn’t pick up GPS in the Fargodome so I planned to run by feel alone. I had run an 18 miler on Monday and several more miles each day leading up to the race so I knew it wouldn’t be a personal best, but definitely wanted to run this event.

The field was small (just like I prefer; I am easily overwhelmed by people) and we were off with a 3-2-1 count. You would maybe think that running over 21 laps on a concrete floor would be boring. But it actually wasn’t bad. I got to see my sister every lap and she helped me count. They were playing music overhead and that was appreciated.

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As I generally do, I think I went out too fast. The first 6 laps or so was just trying to find a pace and place. The crowd did thin out and I was able to run more comfortably at this point. I saw a gal in front of me about my age I guessed and tried to keep with her. I was very thankful my sister was helping me count. After I got about halfway done, I was trying to count my laps and also do the math on how many I had finished and how much longer it would take. That is way too many numbers for my simple brain.

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Kind of before we really knew it, it was over. Jodi met me at the finish line, we had a brief break and got to see my friend, Celeste, run by and cheer her on. She was looking great! Also, I couldn’t stick with that gal in front of me, she is behind me in the pink here but she was fun to chase after.

A few perks of running in the Fargodome: 1) obviously, staying out of the winter weather, 2) plenty of bathroom pit stop options, 3) lots of chances to wave at my cheerleader, 4) small organized race with lots of friendly smiles.

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The only cons I could think of is the music was a bit boring (some CURRENT top 40 hits would be nice) and WHY do they make race shirts so obnoxious? The material is great but you can see me coming from miles away so I guess it’ll be good for road running.

My unofficial finish time was 49:23. With all the miles I had on me that week, I was happy with that and running without a watch. (That is something I am trying to improve on and run more just based on feel.)

10K: 49 minutes, 23 seconds | 7 mins, 56 seconds per mile pace

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We followed up our run at BernBaum’s for some fresh bagels. I got the Mideast plate and it was everything. Highly recommend! Thanks Fargo for a fun run on a cold morning! As always, thanks to my sister for being such a big supporter of mine. I love you so much!!

 

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Huckleberry Breakfast Bars

Have you ever heard of huckleberries? They are the state fruit of Idaho – thank you, Wikipedia for that info. These dark berries grow in mountain areas and I was lucky enough to be gifted some by my sweet friends after they visited Montana. They delivered them to me in a glass mason jar, frozen. They said this is the best way to store and transport them.

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Well, these berries have been in my freezer for a few months. I considered making a crisp with them (I read they are fairly interchangeable with recipes in place of blueberries or raspberries) or something more sinful like a bundt cake. In the end, I decided to make some healthier breakfast bars. My husband likes granola bars or something small like that in the morning. We were also going to be traveling and these are easy to pack and take along. These bars are dense and hearty, so a small piece will do you. This recipe is great for a large family as it makes a lot. It can easily be halved if you’d like.

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Huckleberry Breakfast Bars, only slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats – makes 20 bars

  • 5 cups old fashioned oats, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk (I used almond)
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 heaping cups huckleberries (sub blueberries or raspberries)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray an 9×13″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Add 2 cups of old fashioned oats to a food processor or blender then process until oats have turned into flour. Set aside.
  3. Add milk, mashed banana, honey, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla to a large bowl then whisk to combine. Add remaining 3 cups oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt then stir to combine. Gently fold in berries then pour batter into prepared baking pan.
  4. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center has set. Cool before slicing into bars then store in the refrigerator, or individually wrap bars in saran wrap or foil and freeze.

The huckleberries are on the left. They are dark and smaller than blueberries. One quick tip for you is to melt your coconut oil in a wet measuring cup first and add it to your bowl. Then measure your honey in the same cup and it’ll slide right out for easy clean up.

The bars before and after. You want to make sure they brown on the edges and they are fully set in the middle. No jiggle. Jiggle is never usually good.

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These are great crumbled on top of a smoothie, yogurt or warmed up all alone. Enjoy!

Posted in Baking, Breakfast, Healthy Living | 1 Comment

Team Myla 5.3 mile run/walk, 2017

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 was Myra’s 5.3 mile run at the Riverwood Golf Course in Bismarck. This is a newer race and pretty small. You can do a shorter 2.5 mile walk or a competitive 5.3 miles. The path is all paved and basically snakes through the 18 holes of the golf course. I heard about this run through my friends, Parker and Laif. Laif was actually key in organizing this event – his wife is fighting cancer and proceeds of the run benefit cancer patients.

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Team Myla was organized in the spring of 2012 by a friend of Myla Wescom as Myla fought Stage 4 breast cancer. Myla was a special education teacher in Bismarck Public Schools. Myla passed in 2015 but she wanted to pay it forward to help others with cancer in the BPS system. There were plenty of kids from the BHS Key Club who were on hand at the race cheering us along the course, helping with water, at the finish and inside selling goodies. I really appreciated their support out on the course!

Early registration was only $25 per person or $10 for kids and everyone gets a long sleeved t-shirt. The race began at 9 a.m. and I arrived a bit early and pretty cold. It was a chilly morning, about 20 degrees with some sun and a slight breeze. I hadn’t run much yet in these colder temps (which let’s be honest, at this point of winter we’d consider this a warm morning!!) and was not super excited about being outside. This was my first running event where I was by myself – hence the lack of photos. My usual partner (Mom) was at a NDSU Bison Football game. I did see Parker and Laif right away and chatted with them. I also saw my friends Mark and Karen who are an awesome married couple from a nearby town and they run A LOT and participate in almost any running event. (The photo above is from Karen.) They are awesome people, super encouraging and just all around a great couple.

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Laif has us line up right before 9 a.m., explained the course to use and counted down 3-2-1-GO and we were off. I have never been out to Riverwood to golf or cross country ski there so I was not familiar with the course at all. Luckily, it was easy to follow and was marked well with cheering crews along the way. My goal was to try and run fast because I was very cold. I’m just being honest – my fingers were so cold and I was kind of grumpy about the situation. Once I got going, my running tights were kind of annoying me and riding down. I was anxious to get this over with. I had my eyes on a gal in front of me who I knew was in the female lead and was in a bright shirt so I saw her at all times. FINALLY, after the first half of the run, I started to warm up a little bit and relax. I was also starting to get tired. I knew I’d be getting sweaty so just tried to keep hoofing it. We winded around and through the course and finally we got to the end. I could never catch that gal but I was happy with my finish. There was no official clock or finish times that I am aware of but I took a screen shot of my finish. I was pretty happy with my run and the way it went.

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The best part of the run is afterwards, I talked to that gal that smoked me and we became Facebook friends, went to a spin class and I found she is basically a local running legend (though I didn’t know that at the time). I love running because of the friends and contacts I have made – generally, all are super nice people. I’m so glad Laif and Parker told me about this event. So fun!

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Juicy Instant Pot Chicken Breast

There are probably a bajillion ways to cook chicken breast in the Instant Pot. I have noticed a lot more people now own an Instant Pot. I’ve had mine a while and have been learning by trial and error mostly how to use it. I use it most often to make dried beans, dried lentils and boil eggs. I don’t know if it is the pressure or what but eggs made this way peel like a dream – I love it!

But, this isn’t about eggs, this is about chicken. Chicken breast is easy, fairly affordable and a healthy protein source. I thought I’d share how I cook mine. You can certainly just throw the breast in the IP with some liquid and cook chicken breast just fine; especially if you are shredding it and adding sauce (buffalo, BBQ or a vinaigrette). This method of cooking is more similar to grilled chicken (though nothing can compare to that grilled flavor) in that this chicken will be tender, juicy and full of flavor. I mean, a woman can’t always grill when it is negative 30 degrees outside.

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IP Chicken Breasts

  • About 1 Tablespoon oil – coconut, canola or even bacon fat works great here
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless thawed chicken breast (about 6-9 ounces each)
  • Seasoning: don’t be scared, it is flavor. I like Lawry’s chicken seasoning and Montreal’s Chicken and Steak seasonings
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  • Preheat the saute function on high and add oil
  • Season both sides of your chicken liberally
  • Once the IP is hot, add chicken breast using tons or a long fork. I did mine in two batches
  • Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, you want them to get color. They won’t stick once they are ready to flip
  • Remove from pot
  • Add trivet and the water to the Instant Pot, then place the chicken on the trivet
  • Lock the lid, cook on manual high for 5 minutes and then natural release for another 5 minutes. Quick release after that
  • Remove chicken and allow it to rest at least 5 minutes – let the juices distribute and keep that moisture in – cut and serve or freeze for future use

The easiest way to add some flavor is to add a little fat and season. The photo above shows the 3 seasonings I like on my chicken. We buy these in bulk as Sam’s Club as they also work great on veggies, taters, pork, beef, venison, etc. The photo on the left also shows the trivet that came with my IP. It just keeps the chicken out of the juice so it keeps the seared chicken browned and all the flavor is loaded there.

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By placing the partially cooked and seared chicken breast on the trivet, you are essentially steam cooking them the rest of the way. You can see in the photo above that when you sear the breast, they don’t actually cook all the way throught. You need to put them back in under pressure to fully cook. Traditionally, you might cook them on the bottom of the IP with liquid and that is more like boiling or poaching them texture and taste wise. That’s great for shredding and using later – but give this a try for flavor packed chicken breasts. Enjoy!
Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Feisty Eats, Healthy Living, How To, Informational, Main Dish | Leave a comment

END-TRAILS 12 hour trail run, 2017

Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017 was the END-TRAILS: Extreme North Dakota’s Terrifying Run Amongst Innumerable Lost Souls 12 hour trail run. Yeah, quite the name! This event is put on by END (Extreme North Dakota) Racing and it was EPIC! This was my first END event – they do a variety of extreme races including swim, cycle, multisport and of course on foot. This particular weekend featured a bike event for 12 hours on Saturday and then a 10k trail loop for 12 hours on Sunday.

Everything happened at Turtle River State Park by Grand Forks, ND. This is about 4 to 4.5 hours from my home in Hazen. To make it a bit more bearable, I stayed in Minot with my grannie the night before. I was up and on the road at 4 a.m. The drive was pretty uneventful, helped along by an audio book and thankfully, I only had to slam on the brakes once for a mini herd of deer.

So here is the situation on how this run happens. You can enter as a single person or as a team of up to 4 people (co-ed or not). My team was called Mud, Sweat and Beers and we had 3 women. I love our team name. Everyone is welcome to hunker down in the very nice central lodge at the park which has running water, functioning toilets, a kitchen, food, drinks, coffee and space. What more could a runner need? The weather was cool and overcast, quite good for running. The forecast called for high winds (bummer!) but thankfully it was mostly protected by trees along the Turtle River, the morning was particularly wind free. As a person you can do one lap or as many as you want in a 12-hour span. They just ask you let them know when you are done so they know you are safe and can accurately record your time and laps. As for teams, you can take turns running however you want, all run together or whatever. We decided to go one after another. I felt going in I wanted to do at least 3, maybe 4 laps.

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Wow -we had fun. This was my first event of this nature and would tie for my furthest running amount in one day. It is quite a different beast though running 19 miles at once and 19 miles broken into 3 laps. I brought with a change of clothes for between laps just to get out of sweaty clothes that I knew would turn me cold. We all also brought along food, drink and things to keeps us occupied while we waited our turn to go again. I felt like time went by quite quickly. The sun was up right around the time we started. We had headlamps but they weren’t needed. After we had each recorded one lap, we were welcome to participate in the Halloween theme of the event and dress up and run if we’d like. My teammate Melissa and I both dressed up. I was in a onesie unicorn PJ costume and she was in a much smarter Wonder Woman costume. It was fun to run dressed up and even though my costume was HOT, my lap time was still pretty decent. Not everyone dressed up but it was fun. While we were out running the trails, the park is still open to visitors so I got a few perplexed looks from adults and a few questions from kids on why a unicorn was running by.

We ended up each doing 3 laps. At this point, it was getting dark and I was OK with not getting in a 4th lap. To be honest, it is very quiet and lonely out there – a bit scary. I didn’t know I wanted to run in the dark. By this point, many of the single runners had dropped as well as the teams. We parted ways and on the way home I was glad as we ran into snow squalls and some bad weather. In hindsight, we probably could have ran another lap together but I am totally satisfied with how we finished. I was 100% do this event again. Maybe one day I will have enough stamina to do 4-6 laps on my own? The trail terrain is nice and not too hilly. I would say this event gave me a boost of confidence that I can run far – but especially if I fuel up correctly and just take my time. I tend to go out blazing and burn out quickly. I’m not going to break any records so I might as well be smart and have fun!!

Thanks to my Mud, Sweat and Beers ladies for a fun Sunday afternoon – Alayna and Melissa, two gals up for anything. To stay true to our name we did have some mud, quite a bit of sweat and yeah, I had to have a couple (light) beers to celebrate. Cheers! I hope to participate in and END racing event again.

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Meal prep tips

If you know me or have followed along here – you know I am a fan of meal prepping. I take my lunch to work every day. I work in a rural area with no access to a restaurant, convenience store or cafeteria. That is a good thing, because then I control what goes into my mouth. But, it also takes a bit of planning.

I thought I’d share here a few tips I have been using lately and some meals I take to work. You can see I’m not bothered by eating the same food each day as long as it fills me up.

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Above is a mix of kale, cabbage, riced cauliflower, green beans (frozen that I microwaved and sauteed quick in a pan for color), pinto beans and sweet potato all topped with feta cheese. I add some cottage cheese on the side for additional protein and yes, I know I eat a lot of food. I get told this often but what can I say? I like to eat! When you are eating healthy, good for you food, you can really bulk up the meal.

  • Make a plan – make sure you pick a rounded meal with protein, carbs and fats
  • Take time – set aside time to prep; it does take a chunk of time, but you are rewarded that time throughout the week. I made the above 8 meals in one hour after work one night
  • Grocery Shop – once you have your plan, make sure you have the groceries. I use a mix of fresh, frozen and dried foods
  • Prepare in advance of your meal prep – some of your food can be made days ahead of your meal prep time. For example, I am really into eating beans or lentils for lunch. I can make these after work any night in my Instant Pot while I cook supper. Set it and forget it. Once they are done, I can use later or when I make 2 lbs at a time, I freeze them. Chop veggies in advance. You can bake or roast veggies while you make dinner on the stove top. You can do all those dishes a night you aren’t prepping.
  • Frozen foods are your friend – SO true in North Dakota where we have a dismal selection of fresh and/or tasty vegetables in the winter. I love frozen broccoli and other frozen veggies I can buy in bulk. Lately you will also find some new mixes at the store – I found riced cauliflower with veggies and teriyaki sauce and frozen fruits with kale and spinach.
  • Consider cost – I am cheap. I like to use food that isn’t so expensive and dried beans, lentils and bulk veggies are great for this. I am having a (bad) moment with meat products and they aren’t sitting too well with me for the most part. I am trying a few different things with my diet but for now, I limit meat to once a day, just FYI on why that is missing here. But also, it makes meals more affordable! If you prefer meat, by all means, use meat – prep it in advance.

Even if you don’t have a specific recipe, you can pair together foods you like for a nice meal. If you are a total newbie, Google Meal Prep ideas and a TON of suggestions will come up – something is bound to grab your eye.

 

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  • Utilize your kitchen gadgets – Instant Pot, slow cooker, spiralizer, etc. If you own these gadgets, use them. Different preparations means different styles of food to keep your brain interested. Different ways of cooking means you get done faster.
  • Buy in bulk – I do my best to support and shop local but I admit I purchase some items in bulk. Particularly in the winter I look for frozen veggies – the frozen broccoli at Sam’s is superior to anything I can find local. I also purchase bulk hummus (I’d go broke buying the smaller tubs), eggs, tortilla wraps, fresh fruit, frozen fruit and cottage cheese.
  • Portions and containers – know your portion size, everyone requires a different amount of calories. Make sure you have plenty of storage containers on hand. I like to have enough for at least a dozen meals at a time plus larger ones to store cooked frozen foods in.
  • Quick cooking – so if I have beans or lentils and squash or potatoes that I cook and roast, I want to round off my meals with some quick cooking veggies. Some of my favorite options are cabbage, riced cauliflower and kale. You can very easily and quickly saute these and season as you like to add bulk and flavor to the meal.
  • Fats – I need some fats in my meal to feel satiated. My choice for quite a while now is feta cheese. It is strong and doesn’t melt funky when reheated.
  • Be organized – I think this is the most important – between meal planning, actually cooking and storing the food, you have to be organized. Practice definitely helps.

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Above I have microwaved frozen veggie mix with a spiralized sweet potato, bean, kale and tomato dish. On the right is a very popular and easy to make egg roll in a bowl. I made that bulk to heat up individual portions for dinners on a busy week. Amp that up with some steamed stir fry veggies.

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This bag of kale is available at Walmart and I really like it because it is huge, lasts a long time and is already cut. This bag will make me at least 8 meals and was about $3 I think. Kale or spinach is easily added to many dishes with barely any flavor added but tons of micronutrients.

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Many recipes make several servings and since it is just my husband and I – we need to be fans of leftovers. Leftovers can be eaten the same week or frozen for future use. I almost always have some meals in the freezer we can grab for those super busy weeks. I will say my husband doesn’t eat the same lunches I do but I do prep other stuff for him – that is a luxury I have since we don’t have kids I know! Another tip is to make some healthier energy bites to keep in the freezer for when the sweet tooth is calling.

Give meal prepping a try. Even if you can’t do it every week, it sure is nice to have on hand now and again. I make 4 meals for 5 work days with that 5th day being a Subway day (our only “fast food” restaurant) or supper leftovers or wing it day. Enjoy!

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