April 29, 2013

Three Ingredient 'Pancake'

The other morning I woke up starving and was craving pancakes; however I didn't want to go through the trouble of making 'actual' pancakes and I knew that we were going out to lunch later that day so I didn't want anything too heavy.  I had seen a recipe for two/three ingredient pancakes floating around the blog world and at first I completely dismissed it.  "There is not way you can make a decent pancake with just two or three ingredients!"  But, given my level of hungriness and my desire to not cook I figured I would give it a try!
The three ingredients are - 1 egg, 1 banana and 2 tablespoons peanut butter.  That's it!  (I also added about 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon - which is optional.)  The peanut butter is also optional which would make it a two ingredient pancake but I think the peanut butter definitely added to it!  Now I will admit that this does not taste 'like' a pancake but it definitely doesn't taste like an egg or banana.  It cooks up pretty much identical to a pancake and has the consistency of a non-fluffy pancake.  The ingredients yielded three decent sized pancakes and kept me full for the morning.
Three Ingredient Pancakes
1 large egg
1 ripe banana
2 TBS peanut butter
(1/2 tsp cinnamon - optional)
Mix all the ingredients ~ heat a greased or non-stick pan to medium heat ~ pour batter into pan and cook until golden brown and cooked through.
Egg, banana and peanut butter!
Cooking it up!

Looks like a pancake!
Give it a try and decide for yourself!

April 25, 2013

Hike Along the Ausable River (Adirondacks)

Last weekend Adam and I hiked along the Ausable River in the Adirondacks.  I have been really excited to post about this because it was exciting and beautiful but also extremely challenging.  Here is how it all began - about a year ago Adam took a hiking 101 class taught by Adirondack Mountain Club - also known as ADK (you see ADK bumper stickers all over the place around here).  Every year throughout the hiking season certified instructors will lead hikes of varying degrees of difficultly.  The levels of difficultly (D through A+, D being the lowest and A+ being the hardest) are assessed based on the elevation of the hike but not necessarily the terrain and overall level of difficulty; so the hike could be a C due to lack of elevation but could still be very hard. 

There are also the Adirondack High Peaks which consists of 46 peaks throughout the Adirondacks - many people challenge themselves to hike all 46 and from that point on are known as 46'ers.  We're planning on hiking at least one high peak this summer!  We are actually pretty luck here in the Capital Region because we have access to so many different mountain ranges - the Adirondacks, Catskills, Greens (VT) and Taconics (MA).  I consider myself a novice hiker - I never hiked growing up and just did a couple of outings last summer; slowly but surely though we are starting to do longer and more challenging hikes.  I have also started to acquire a lot of the necessary equipment - boots, gaiters, a back pack and a rain jacket - next up will probably be poles and maybe a pair of high top hiking boots.
So anyway - a while back ADK put out a list of upcoming hikes.  We looked at the calendar decided on a weekend where we didn't have much going on.  It just so happened that ADK was having a 'Waterfall Hike' outing that Saturday.  SOLD!  The hike was billed as a C+ on the scale of difficulty due to lack of elevation but we were told that we would be hiking about 10 miles and that it would take approximately 8 hours.  So the night before we laid out our hiking boots and clothes, packed up our packs and made sure that we had plenty of water.  The next morning we met up with the rest of our hiking group at 7 AM and carpooled to the trail head.  It took us about 2 hours to get from the meeting site to the trail head (including a stop for breakfast and one final bathroom break) and our hiking group consisted of 9 people - 7 women, 2 men with an average age (excluding me and Adam) of about 60 to 65.  Due to this we thought for sure it would be a slow hike but to be completely honest - some of those women kicked my butt!  Everyone on the hike was super experienced and at times I felt like I may have been in over my head.  It was then that I realized exactly how much of a novice I really was and just how much equipment I lacked.
Overall though the hike was great!  It was strenuous and at times very challenging.  We started out hiking next to the river and then within 15 minutes we would be high above it, only to be next to it again 15 minutes later.  We also saw some AMAZING waterfalls!  We ate lunch next to Beaver Meadow Falls and the hike climaxed when we reached Rainbow Falls (which was not an easy feat getting to).  Because we were high up in the Adirondacks the weather was very interesting - one minute it would be 60 degrees and I would be shedding a couple of my three layers but then it would begin snowing or hailing and I would need to bundle up again!  I wore everything from just a 1/4 zip jacket to that plus two coats and a rain coat.  Adam said I went through more costume changes than a Cher concert.  We also hiked over and through a bunch of different terrains including - snow, ice, water, rocks, downed trees, etc ...  And yes you read that right - snow and ice!  I was completely unprepared for that aspect of the hike.  At the time I did not own gaiters or micro-spikes, my hiking boots are low tops and I was wearing (thick) capries.  For a good portion of the hike we were hiking over and through a good bit of snow and at one point we were trudging through about 2 feet of snow!  I did have a mini-freak out at one point because it was so icy and apart of me was afraid I would slip and fall into the river (which was very, very cold).  In the end though everything turned out fine but Adam did say that watching me hike through snow was pretty much the equivalent of watching a baby deer on ice - it was sort of rough.
Once we reached Rainbow Falls and the 'hiking' portion of our hike was essentially over but we still had to walk about three miles back to the trail head.  By this time we were dead tired and even though it was a long walk back at least it didn't require jumping over streams, thrugging through snow or bush-whacking trail debris.  The hike was exhausting but so much fun!  I would go on another one in a heartbeat (properly outfitted for the conditions of course)!
Here are some pictures of the hike along with some recaps.  (I think we got some really great pics!)
 Rest area right before we entered the Adirondacks - welcoming us to the High Peaks!
Walking up to the trail head!

Great views already!
All set for the hike - wearing about four layers at this point - chilly!

We hiked the West River Trail along the Ausable River!

First bridge that we crossed.  Due to the melting snow and the huge rainstorm the night before the water was raging!  The rapids were insane and the sound of the water was so loud!

Walking across the first bridge!  Throughout the hike there were a ton of these wooden bridges - this one was definitely one of the most sturdy.

 View from the bridge looking downriver!
Hiking above the Ausable River - looking down onto another bridge. 

First waterfall and a bridge!

Close-ups of the first waterfall!


Adam on the bridge - crossing over the waterfall/river.

Me on the rocks in front of the first Waterfall!

Picture time - Adam and the bridge/waterfall!
Waterfall #2 - Beaver Meadow Falls!

Beautiful waterfall!

Adam in front of Beaver Meadown Falls
Not a little waterfall by any means - makes me look tiny!

We ate lunch next to Beaver Meadow Falls and while we were eating it starting snowing!  Between the snow, wind and mist from the waterfall, I was freezing!
After lunch we walked down from Beaver Meadown Falls and began our treck toward Rainbow Falls.  Gorgous view of the mountains from along side the river!

Taken from the middle of a bridge over the Ausable River looking up toward a dam and the mountains.  So pretty!

Me and Rainbow Falls!

The hike to get to Rainbow Falls was not that easy - we had to hike through snow, ice and sover ome pretty big rocks along a very narrow path.  On top of that the waterfall was so big and powerful that we were getting soaked from the mist!  With the exception of Niagra Falls this was the biggest waterfall I have even seen/been close to.

Love this picture - another one of me and Rainbow Falls!

 Me and Adam - more toward the beginning of the hike before we were totally exhausted and waterlogged.  Check out the moutain in the background though.  This picture is now on my bulletin board at work!

April 24, 2013

What I Have Learned From Juicing (so far)

I have been juicing for about two weeks now (I've had the juicer for about three weeks but I had to take a week off due to travel - darn TSA and their liquid rule!) and I have definitely learned a few things about juicing - what to juice, what not to juice, what tastes good together, what to go easy on and what to include more of.
Here's what I have discovered so far:
  • Bananas do not juice well - or at all - save them for smoothies!
  • Frozen fruit/veggies do not juice well - if you are planning on juicing formerly frozen items be sure they are thawed completely.
  • Be sure to place any berries in the juicer shoot very carefully and cover the shoot  immediately - if not, the berries WILL hit the ceiling.
  • Juicing beets is a no go for me.  I wish I liked the taste of beet juice but I just don't - it's gross and the couple of times I have juicing beets I couldn't stand to drink much of it.
  • Be sure to only juice one or two stalks of celery (if that) - anymore than that will make it seem like you are drinking a celery stalk.
  • A little lemon or lime goes a long way!  And if you juice any citrus with the rind on your entire juice will be VERY citrus-y.
  • The freezer is your friend, but not the fridge!  Juicing can take some time - all the set up, washing and chopping the fruits/veggies, and then cleaning the actual juicer afterwards; due to this it is not very convenient for me to do it everyday.  Since I started I have been making a couple of juices (2 - 3) at a time, putting one in the fridge for the next day and freezing the others (I have been using freezer safe ball mason jars).  One time I decided to not use the freezer and leave all of them in the fridge - the result was not good - the juice got slimy, completely separated and I ended up throwing a good portion of them out.  So use the freezer for juice storage!  Juice is also really good frozen!  I am looking forward to making some popsicles with the juice this summer! 
  • Juicing keeps you full!  So far for me it cannot completely replace a meal but I have seen a reduction in how much I eat throughout the day.  On a typical day I will eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast and then around 11:30 AM/12 PM I'll begin drinking my juice.  I'll take my time and the juice will last around 45 minutes to an hour.  After that I will be full until about 2/2:30 PM or so when I will have a sandwich (my go to - peanut butter and banana) or some soup or a yogurt with granola.  Typically after that (and this will depend on the day) I am good until dinner!
So far some of my favorite juices have been:
  • 2 orange bell peppers, 3 carrots, 1 peeled orange, 1 peeled lemon and a handful of fresh pineapple
  • 1 large cucumber, 1 orange , 1 large celery stalk and a handful of fresh pineapple
Juice!  Juice!  Juice!
More to come!

April 22, 2013

Old School Fitness Trail

A couple of weeks ago was the first weekend when we had semi-nice weather in Albany.  Despite being pretty windy on Sunday the sun was shining!  We also had some visitors that weekend in the form of identical twin four year olds which meant that despite the wind we needed to go to the park!  We headed over to the Elm Avenue Park.  While at the park I discovered an old school fitness trail.  I was stoked!  I am always excited when I find a new place to run but I was even more excited that it was part of a fitness trail.  I remember the park in my hometown having a trail like this and to make it even more of a coincidence the playground adjacent to the fitness trail was the exact same style and layout as the playground next to the fitness trail in my hometown.  Talk about coincidence!  The fitness trail was comprised of two loops which made up a 2.3 mile trail - there were also 20 exercise states with 32 different exercises.  The stops were nothing fancy - wooden signs with instructions accompanied by wooden/metal 'equipment' and instructions for 'training' and 'competition' participants.  The trail also ran along a creek and will be really nice in the summer.  When I was there it was still a little muddy from the melting snow and the creek was looking somewhat dismal.  I ended up running one of the loops a few times and while I didn't actually do the exercises I told Adam that I definitely wanted to come back when it was warmer and do the whole thing!
Start of the trail - explaining the stations.
 Looking out from the start!

 Station #8 - stretching!

 Station #9 - still stretching!

 Time for some abs!

 I'm not completely sure what is supposed to happen at this station.
 Parallel bars for dips!
 Stumps for leg raises!
After my run I headed back to the playground - my inner child was so excited!

April 13, 2013

Adventures in Missouri (and Connecticut)

A couple of weeks ago my work travels took me to Springfield, Missouri and then Waterbury and Hartford Connecticut.  All within a week - literally!  Springfield, MO was Wednesday - Saturday and Waterbury/Hartford, Connecticut was Sunday - Wednesday.  It was a long week but also really good and challenging.  First up was Missouri.  I had never been to Missouri but oddly enough I will be going there again next week - from never to twice within one month!  Despite being the capital Springfield is a small city and had a tiny airport.  I traveled most of the day and after my layover in Atlanta (where I saw Newt Gingrich - he deplaned right next to my gate) arrived at the airport and headed to the hotel.  My hotel was right on the campus of Missouri State University (Go Bears!), unfortunately it was spring break for the students so not a whole lot was open on campus.  The first night I stayed in and relaxed and the next morning headed to the training site to observe three SOAR trainers.  The training was held at the Legal Services of Southern Missouri.  LSSM were such great hosts - the training room was high tech and they were sure to keep the trainees stocked with soda, snacks and other goodies!
Legal Services of Southern Missouri!
After the first day of the training the trainers took me out for sushi!  I have a colleague who went to school in Springfield and she swore to me that Missouri sushi was the best sushi she had ever had and that I would agree after visiting.  I was pretty skeptical because let's be honest Missouri is no where near the ocean and the mid-west is more known for cattle and corn than sushi.  I was so wrong!  I had some of the BEST sushi I have EVER had in Missouri!  We went to a place called Haruno - it had a great 'lounge' vibe and awesome happy hour specials (everything is cheaper in the Midwest!).  I ended up getting the 'daily special' roll which was a great mix of sweet and spicy topped with sriracha sauce.  It was delicious but it didn't hold a candle to the second roll I ordered - the 'Oh My God' roll - this thing literally came out on FIRE!  The roll was wrapped in tin foil and the plate was set abalze which not only served as a cool presentation but it also toasted the roll.  While the presentation was neat the roll tasted AMAZING!  I couldn't even tell you what was in the roll but it was delicious - best sushi roll I have ever had.  If you are ever in Springfield, MO the Oh My God Roll at Haruno is a must!
My sushi roll is on fire!
The next day was Friday - the second and last day of the training.  For lunch we ended up going to a minority owned local cafe called Big Momma's - since it was Friday I was not eating meat or cheese and the cafe had numerous options to accomidate me.  The best part of lunch though was the mixed berry scone - hands down one of the best scones I have ever eaten.  It was so good in fact that I bought as second and asked them to wrap it up so I could take it back to NY for Adam.  They gladly did and were stoked that one of their scones would be traveling. 
Mixed berry scone from Big Momma's in Springfield, MO.
After the training concluded I headed back to my hotel to change - it was a beautiful day outside and I wanted to take advantage of the weather and explore downtown Springfield a little.  I ended up walking around for a couple of hours.  My walk took me through the campus of Missouri State University and over to Historic Walnut Street.  On Walnut Street there were a bunch of resturants and local shops.  I 'yelped' around and ended up eating dinner at the Springfield Brewing Company.  I sat at the bar, watched the Sweet 16 basketball games and ate some fish and chips (they were good but not the best).  After dinner I had a craving for something sweet and I remembered one of the locals at the training saying that I needed to try The Cup.  The Cup is a cupcake bakery and has locations all over Missouri.  I ended up getting a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing and it was delicious!  After eating it though I was happy I had walked arounded for hours before - it was definitely filling.  After my adventures in downtown Springfield I headed back to my hotel and relaxed before my 6 AM flight back to Albany.
 Some cool sidewalk art in downtown Springfield, MO

 It's all downtown!
 Entrance to Missouri State University

 A HUGE bear statue in the middle of campus!

 It was a beautiful day for a walk around MSU!
 Dinner at the Springfield Brewing Company!
Followed by a cupcake from The Cup!
After I returned home from Springfield, MO on Saturday it was a quick turn around before my boss and I left for Connecticut on Easter Sunday.  Luckily Connecticut is only about 2 - 2.5 hours from Albany so prior to leaving I was able to have a very nice Easter dinner with Adam and his family.  First up was forum in Waterbury followed by a forum in Hartford.  The forums were challenging and could even be categorized as hostile at times.  Connecticut is an odd place and I will be perfectly honest in saying that I am not a fan of the state.  It is a state of extremes - parts of CT are VERY rich and other parts of VERY poor, there doesn't seem to be much of a middle and from my experience the rich seem to want nothing to do with programs are organizations that try to help the latter.  As I mentioned some parts of our forums were hostile and it seemed as if no one wanted to take ownership of how to best help people experiencing homelessness.  Anyway - as evident from my other posts about my work travel, I often like to go out, walk around and explore the places I am staying, however CT was different, I felt no desire to go out and explore - when I wasn't working I was pretty much in my hotel room.  Connecticut is one of my states so hopefully my favor for the state will increase but until that time - this picture is all I got!
View of downtown Waterbury, CT