Sep
02

Zucchini Banana Bread

When a girlfriend of mine gifted me a HUGE zucchini from her garden, I was ecstatic – however unsure what to do with THAT MUCH ZUCCHINI. The thing was huge, seriously. I took a photo of it, but I’m not sharing because it just looks awkward. Ha! 

I haven’t always loved zucchini, but I HAVE always loved zucchini bread. The strange thing is, I’ve never made an attempt at making bread on my own, until recently – it scared me. Seemed hard, or something. I overcame my fear with a craving and a huge zucchini fruit staring me in the face from atop my kitchen counter.

I googled recipes for “vegan zucchini bread” and one of the first (and best) recipes that showed up is a recipe from one of my favorite blogs – Post Punk Kitchen. The coolest thing about the recipe is that it calls for a ripe banana and I just so happened to have 3 ripe bananas hanging around. (literally!)

Zucchini Banana Bread

This recipe calls for “applesauce” and I like to make my own. It’s simp, chop an apple, and pulse it in a food processor until it’s a “saucy” consistency. If it’s not completely smooth, it’s ok. You can still add it to the batter. Just be sure to not add any more apple”sauce” than the recipe calls for – if you do, your bread may be too moist and dense. I only know this because I added extra apple”sauce” to my second loaf and it was more dense than my first loaf - however, still yummy.

I have a fancy attachment on my food processor that grated my zucchini with the touch of a button. If you do not have this fancy attachment, you can certainly grate the zucchini by hand. 

I added raisins and a few nuts to my bread but you can play around with add-ins. Chocolate chips, any type of nuts, dates, and dried fruits would all work. You get to choose & customize!! 

{vegan} Zucchini Banana Bread
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom or allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • ½ cup raisins (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8×4 metal bread pan with Earth Balance butter.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash the banana well, until no large chunks are left. Add the applesauce, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla and use a strong fork to mix well.
  3. Add the grated zucchini and mix in.
  4. Sift in 1 cup of the flour, the cinnamon, cardamom or allspice, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine. If you are adding the walnuts or raisins, do that now. Then add the final ½ cup of flour, and mix just until no visible flour is left.
  5. Transfer batter to the greased pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick or knife. If the bread needs more time to bake, turn heat down to 325 F and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice and serve!

Zucchini Banana Bread

Love

Crista


Aug
27

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

In Colorado, we hike 4.5 miles uphill (at 8000-10,000 foot elevation) for a beautiful reward- Ypsilon Lake, which sits high up in the mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

When we got up to the lake, we perched on a rock that sits out in the middle of the lake and we ate our packed lunch, rested, relaxed, and soaked up the crisp mountain air.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

After lunch, prior to our 4.5 mile hike down, we hung out on a large rock right in the middle of this beautiful waterfall.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

I consider myself  to be somewhat in shape, but this hike made me question that. This hike KICKED MY ASS. My friends referred to this hike as being “moderate” but when I googled it after the fact, I see that it is considered a strenuous hike (which made me feel a little better about myself – ha!). I was pretty beat up for an entire day after this hike, my body was achy and my knees were fragile- it was so worth it though.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

I mean, this view.  You can’t take a bad photo up there in that mountain even if you try your hardest.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park 

In case you’re as obsessed with my Coloradical as I am —> Coloradical Women’s Skyline T-Shirt (affiliate link)

Love

Crista


Aug
23

Melon Basil Soup

I’ve gathered several recipes that I’d like to make using ingredients from my garden from books, blogs, and magazines.

Slowly but surely, I’m harvesting herbs, kale, rhubarb, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes from the garden. We’ve got hundreds of tomatoes in the garden but only a handful are red, most of them are still green. There are soooo many tomato recipes I’m dying to make –  hopefully it won’t be long….

I’ve had my eye on this Melon Basil Soup recipe for quite some time and I finally gathered enough fresh basil leaves to make it!

I’m not sure what the rest of the country looks like, but here in Denver we are still experiencing 90 degree days. Summer is not over yet (even though most kids are back in school – gah)!! This soup is really refreshing on a hot summer day, it can be served chilled or at room temperature-ish. I don’t see why you couldn’t pack it for a picnic or even a camping trip. It’d also be great to serve at parties. For me, I keep it around to curb my sweet tooth or for a refreshing treat after a long, hot hike in the mountains.

Melon Basil Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ honeydew melon, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ¼ cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon seat salt
Instructions
  1. In a blender or a food processor, add all ingredients and purée until completely smooth.
  2. Strain the purée through a strainer with the smallest holes you have available over a bowl.
  3. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

The original recipe for this soup recommends that you strain it through a fine mesh sieve which would remove the basil leaves. I didm;t do that – I enjoy the look (and taste!) of the speckled basil leaves throughout the soup – and they certainly don’t ruin the consistency of the soup at all.

Melon Basil Soup

Love

Crista


Aug
17

peaches-and-cream-yogurt-parfait

It’s peach season here in Colorado and apparently it’s a pretty big deal. There are several festivals happening throughout the entire state in celebration. A mountain town, on the Western Slope, Palisade, CO is where some of the best peaches in the world are grown and that small town sits near Wine Country. Sounds like a great place to vacation – local wineries, festivals, tours, farm-to-table dinners (peach & wine inspired), farmers markets, B&B’s, and a quaint little downtown. (count me in!!)

After hearing about these peaches (everyone is talking about them!) I didn’t wait long to try them. I ate one the first chance I got! I was driving through a small suburb right outside of Denver the first time I spotted these peaches, they were being sold at a little fruit stand in the corner of the parking lot. I may or may not being living off of peaches right now – I take one with me every where I go. I eat them for breakfast and as a late-night snack. I’ve paired them with ice cream and peanut buttered crackers. 

For a Sunday morning breakfast-in-bed, I decided to make a Peaches & Cream Yogurt Parfait. I prepared the peaches last night (as the recipe prompts you to do) and couldn’t wait to get up this morning to eat them. And now I’m off… to begin my day… 

Peaches & Cream Yogurt Parfait
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 peaches, core removed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • ½ cup vanilla coconut milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ cup granola
Instructions
  1. Toss the peaches with the sugar and allow them to sit in the refrigerate overnight. They will soften and create a syrup.
  2. When ready to serve, stir the honey in to the yogurt and then combine the peaches and yogurt together.
  3. Top with granola.

palisade-peaches

Love

Crista


Aug
16

“Where are we??”
“RED ROCKS!!”
“What are we??”
“ALIVE!!”

….a chant that was articulated between a yoga teacher and 2000 yogi students (including myself and a lucky PLQ giveaway winner) several times this morning….

yoga-on-the-rocks

By 9:30 AM this morning, I felt accomplished. I had already practiced yoga at Red Rocks with 2000 other yogis and hiked the Trading Post Trail at Red Rocks. Oh, I’d also collected several free samples that Whole Foods was giving away for the Yoga On The Rocks event. 

yoga-on-the-rocks

I learned today that Red Rocks is the ONLY naturally-occuring, acoustically perfect amphitheater is the world – no wonder it has attracted the attention of musicians for years and years and years. Musicians plan years of their lives around the opportunity to play at this spiritual, emotional venue.

Yoga, on the rocks, was nothing short of an emotional experience either. During practice this morning, the instructor insisted that the students open their eyes and really LOOK at the surroundings. Beautiful rock formations, blue skies, and a bright, sunny sky.

yoga-on-the-rcosk

Practicing ancient, meditative body movements (yoga) in an ancient, naturally formed venue is an experience I will never ever forget. Upon entering the amphitheater this morning and during my yoga practice, I had an overwhelming feeling of emotion and energy.

yoga-on-the-rocks

There were 4 sessions of Yoga On The Rocks this year and I only got to attend 2. There is no doubt I will try my hardest to attend all 4 next summer.

yoga-on-the-rocks

Corepower Yoga is the host of Yoga On The Rocks and I’d like to extend gratitude to them for inviting me to YOTR, gifting me with a yoga mat and super sweet sunglasses, and allowing me to gift a reader with an unforgettable experience. 

My Colorado Life keeps getting better and better….

 

Love

Crista


Aug
15

On The Farm, Off The Hook

About a month ago, at On The Farm, Off The Hook – a dinner event, we each received a small clay pot as a gift. We knew that there were seeds inside each pot but the type of seed was (and still is) a mystery.

planters-garden

It has been so much fun to watch these seeds sprout from the soil and show themselves to the world. Both of our little plants are completely different from each other – one with a single, thick stem and large leaves. the other is smaller, more fragile. We’ve almost looked at the two plants as though they are in competition with each other – which one will grow up and unveil it’s identity first?

These plants have sat in the windowsill, catching the afternoon sun and a daily watering for as long as we’ve had them… until this week. I planted them in the garden in hopes that they will have the opportunity to grow bigger and faster than they could in the small clay pot. 

planters-garden

The plants look puny in comparison to the others in the garden, and I’m fearful they’ll be taken over by the elements. My fingers are crossed for their survival… those plants hold a special place in my heart.

planters-garden

Love

Crista


Aug
14

MN lake - Marilyn Monroe photo

This is my beautiful BFF, Laura. Maybe you can’t tell from the photo but she exudes confidence and holds a strong presence (no matter where she goes). She is beautiful, funny, and FUN.

Recently, Laura dropped 30 lbs of unnecessary weight from her body in a 6 month period of time. Her tactic was not complicated, and was done almost without notice – until she walked in to a room 30 pounds lighter. Laura decided on a simple lifestyle change that was not complicated but rendered the results she was looking for. Blind-sided, people who don’t see Laura on a regular basis took an immediate notice to her new “look” – they had no idea she was even putting in the effort.

I wanted to share Laura’s story here at PLQ because of how attainable this accomplishment is for any and everyone. When I read through Laura’s story below, it seems as though the hardest part of losing 30 pounds is mentally preparing for it – allowing your mind and mouth to say no when your cravings and surroundings are saying yes. And then, stay focused. Laura didn’t exercise from sun up to sun down in order to lose the weight – sure, she does exercise, but she didn’t have to do it excessively. She simply changed her mind set, maintained focus on the goal, and learned to say NO.

What was it that made you decide to lose weight and how much weight did you lose?

I think it was a combination of things. What I remember most is my reflection in the mirror looked way different in pictures than I thought it did in real life – I thought I looked fine in the mirror Looking at a picture of myself was often times painful – I looked a lot more fluffy in photos than I was comfortable with. (I hate using the word fat, because it’s sounds so harsh.) Jeans and clothes were difficult to find. When I decided it was time to make a change, I did a complete 180 overnight. It wasn’t easy but it was necessary for me to keep motivated and I lost 30 pounds in 6 months and I’m keeping it off.

What were you main vices – sugar, bread, fast food??

There was no ONE thing, I LOVE food so I consistently overate AND I travel for work, so it was easy to fall into bad habits. Bread baskets, wine, appetizers, and desserts were some of my guilty indulgences.

Being over-served is a standard in restaurants these days so now I only eat half of what is on my plate and I move on. I realized that I have to say no to many things (that sounds so good!) and custom-order my food based on my specific dietary needs.

Had you tried to lose weight before? If so, what happened?

I’ve lost and gained weight almost my entire life.

“Diet” really is a buzz word, I would follow a “diet,” drop a bunch of weight and then return to my bad habits. Shortly after ending my “diet” I would gain weight back.  This time is different, I’ve chosen a complete lifestyle change vs. a fad diet. It’s not always easy, but I’ve found a way to incorporate my new habits in to my daily life. 

I will note that when I cut out dairy alone – my whole body felt rejuvenated and less bloated in 3 days. That was a major ah-ha!

What were the best and most successful techniques you used for losing weight?

I cut out all dairy, including milk, butter, yogurt and cheese. (I will note that when I cut out dairy alone – my whole body felt rejuvenated and less bloated in 3 days. That was a major ah-ha!) I also cut out processed foods. I said good-bye to breads, crackers, wraps, chips, and pasta.

I learned portion control. I measure my food at home and I make sure you stop eating when I am full!

I drink 1-2 liters of water a day to stay hydrated, and it makes my stomach feel full.

When I eat out, I ask for no cheese on my salads and I get my dressings on the side. If I order a sandwich, I’ll ask for no bun or bread.

Sometimes, life happens and I’ll slip up but then I move on and focus on the next meal.

What are some of your favorite foods to eat?

I eat a lot of beans, eggs, oatmeal, nuts, avocados, peaches, bananas, berries, vegan proteins (like veggie burgers from Trader Joes – sans the bun), and smoothies made with almond milk. I like to eat salads as a meal. I enjoy things like hummus & veggies as a snack. And if I am craving sweets, I’d go for something like these Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles.

Tell us about your “cheat day”

When I first started losing weight, I let myself eat whatever I wanted and however much I wanted on Saturdays, my cheat day! This is a way of rewarding myself and curing any cravings I’m having. Ice cream, fried food and pizza are some of my favorite items I liked to treat myself to on Saturdays.

The more weight I lost, and the more strict I became with my habits, the lesser amount of crap I wanted to eat on cheat days. My cheat days have become almost non-existent because I don’t crave as much crap anymore. I always feel sick for a couple days after a cheat day because my body is now in tune to what healthy food does for it. In knowing that, I’ll only eat 1-2 slices of pizza IF I’m eating pizza versus my old ways, I would eat a half a pie in one sitting.

Even though Laura is my BFF and we’ve shared many meals together, I learned a lot about her and her “secrets” during this interview. Talk of improvement and accomplishment never gets old to me – especially when it’s with my pretty, pretty friends.

If you’re curious to see what Laura looked like BEFORE she lost 30, check out the photo below.

Laura-before

Love

Crista


Aug
13

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

chocolate.
bananas.
peanut butter.
coconut.
it’s what’s for breakfast.
or a little treat, after a workout.

I did not pre-meditate this smoothie, it kind of “just happened” …and I have a feeling it will “just happen” again…

Let me tell you more: Every time I have a banana that’s gotten too brown and soft for eating, I peel it, chop it up, and put it in the freezer. After a long, hot, sweaty run a few mornings ago, I was in need of something cold and nutritious. I remembered those bananas in my freezer and I must have had peanut butter on the mind. The chocolate idea came naturally to me PLUS I keep chocolate protein powders on hand (for situations like this, I always have cacao nibs, and I had recently purchased chocolate almond milk to drink as a “treat” – you know, satisfy my sweet tooth.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

5.0 from 2 reviews
Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Smoothie
Author: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 3 frozen bananas (peel, chop, and freeze the day before making this smoothie)
  • 2 small handfuls of cacao nibs
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • a small handful of dried coconut flakes
  • 1 serving (10 g) of chocolate Protein Powder (I use Garden Of Life Raw Organic Superfood Chocolate Cacao)
  • 1⅓ cup chocolate almond milk (or any type of nut milk you prefer)
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Love

Crista


Aug
09

SPORT Tea

Sporty, SPORT tea Saturday: my alarm clock went off at 4:15 am because my super special guy friend was up early for a triathlon. After I saw him off, I had planned on doing Yoga On The Rocks at Red Rocks BUT at about 4:30 AM, I realized that I hadn’t purchased my ticket yet. When I logged in to purchase a ticket, I found out that tickets were sold out (2000 tickets – SOLD OUT – that’s nuts!). Operation YOTR: abort. I was pretty bummed, but I realized an opportunity to take a quick (early morning) nap and then RUN. I am not a runner, and I don’t even enjoy running…. but for some reason I have decided that I’m going to train for a few 5k’s. I know I need to introduce some type of cardio back in to my workout routine, I realize that Hot Yoga shouldn’t be the only form of exercise I am practicing. What I like about running is that I can do it outdoors (this IS Colorado), it doesn’t cost me any money, AND it doesn’t require a trip to a gym. Plus, 5K’s are kind of fun (especially when there is beer involved – I’ll see you soon Oktoberfest).

Way back, Mothers Day weekend when my mom was in Colorado visiting, we had dinner at a restaurant called Linger. With our meal, they served us some of the most delicious iced tea we’d ever had. Naturally, we asked about it and found out they use SPORT Tea, which is made locally in Colorado. I’d never heard of it until then. Immediately the next day, we set out to find some of this SPORT Tea and had success at Whole Foods. It sat on a lower shelf in the tea aisle, could have easily been overlooked.

I’m on my 5th or 6th batch of the SPORT Tea and I’ve learned that there are so many things to love about it besides the flavor:

SPORT Tea is cold brew tea, which I’ve never experienced before. All I have to do is fill a pitcher with cold water, add a tea bag, and then allow it to sit in the refrigerator overnight. There is none of that boiling-water-then-wait-for-it-too-cool stuff to worry about. 

SPORT Tea is tasty enough without adding a sweetener. I do like to add mint and lime prior to the cold brew process which greatly enhances the flavor. I like to add the mint during the brew process and then I squeeze fresh lime in just before drinking it.

SPORT Tea contains Electrolytes and Ginseng – two ingredients that are essential for a sporty gal like myself – SPORT Tea gives me energy and helps to minimize cramping during a workout. It also contains Ginger (enhances blood flow and circulation), Vitamin C (crucial for optimal health), and Brazillian Maté (suppresses appetite).

SPORT Tea contains nothing artificial and is 100% natural which makes it a perfect alternative to sugary, caffeinated, carbonated athletic drinks (think gatorade or vitamin water).

Oh, and it’s local (Colorado) – I totally dig that.

SPORT Tea

So anyway, thanks for allowing me to share one of my loves. 
SPORT Tea is available for purchase outside of Colorado HERE.
(oh, and just so you know – Sport Tea did not pay me or ask me to write this post – I did it allllll on my own)
Happy Sporty Saturday, friends! 

Love

Crista


Aug
06

kohlrabi

 KOHLRABI.
I’d only heard of it once prior to finding a little starter plant at the Farmers Market. A few years ago, I had kohlrabi in a salad at Trocadero in Milwaukee, WI (cool restaurant, btw!). The salad consisted of apple, kohlrabi, salted caramel pecans, and a black sherry vinaigrette. Yum, right? So when I came across that kohlrabi starter plant, of course I wanted to plant it – it reminded me of that awesome salad….

So I planted the kohlrabi, and I think I allowed it to get way too big. I had no idea what it would like like as it grew. Turns out, I don’t know much about kohlrabi period. I had no idea that it would form a big bulb (as you see in the photo above) – and I guess I didn’t pay much attention to what it looked like when I had it in that salad a few years ago – it was tossed with the other ingredients and I never took the time to identify it. (maybe I was starving and scarfed that salad down the moment it landed on the table??!)

Because I allowed the kohlrabi bulb to get too big, it split and ants started building a nest inside the split. It was quite the sight to see, actually. Those ants worked hard to build that nest and when I pulled the kohlrabi up out of the ground, I completely destroyed everything they worked for. Anyways, it was mine first.

From what I understand, kohlrabi is similar to that of a turnip or a cabbage, or even a combination of the two. It can be eaten raw and/or cooked. Although the leaves can be eaten, the “stem” or bulb is what is most commonly prepared. The taste and texture of kohlrabi is similar to that of a broccoli stem (however, crisp and juicy) and has a mild flavor.

So I’ve got this kohlrabi bulb hanging around my kitchen and I’m still not 100% sure what I’m going to do with it. I found a few yummy-looking recipes but I’m not yet sure which one I’ll try because I’m still not even sure exactly what the kohlrabi will taste like. 

Chili Dusted Kohlrabi Fries from Five and Spice

Beet, Kale, and Kohlrabi Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette from a Couple Cooks

Kohlrabi & Cabbage Slaw with Tahini-Lemon Dressing from Dishing Up The Dirt

Which recipe do you think I should try??

———–

I would have NO idea how to cut up my kohlrabi had it not been for this tutorial from the kitchn: How To Cut Up Kohlrabi. Thank goodness the internet exists. 

Love

Crista