Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Old favorite/New Favorite: Whole grain deliciousness

Old Favorite: So I've always been a big rice, pasta, basically whatever type of carb you could throw at me, type of person. I ate mostly white rice and regular pasta. Lately though I've been trying to be more health conscious. I'm trying to replace the nutrient empty foods in my diet with foods that pack more of a nutritional punch. Beau and I are doing this my eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting out unnecessary carbs and making healthy substitutions of items we can't stand to live without (in my case...rice).

Picture source (and a great article on the many health benefits of quinoa)

New Favorite: Enter quinoa...this is like my new fave! I've never really been a huge brown rice fan so I was a little late to try this out but it is so delicious. If you haven't tried it, you have to go out and buy some. Quinoa is a delicious whole grain and while it's a bit pricier than brown rice, it's totally worth it because it tastes so good. Even if you aren't as sold on it as I am, you'll at least be able to agree that it's a nice way to mix up the whole grains in your diet.

Picture source

I bought the Eden brand of quinoa which was available at my grocery store, but there are also bulk grains available at your local co-op, you can even purchase it online at Amazon.com.

So here are a couple of the ways I've served quinoa in my house over the last week.

1) Instead of black beans and rice, try black beans and quinoa. Beau and I make a dish with black beans, diced tomatoes, onions, kielbasa and usually rice but quinoa made for a delicious substitution.

2) What about cabbage rolls? Okay, okay, Beau gave me that look too but the minute he saw these guys come out of the oven he was hooked and has been raving about them ever since. I saw this recipe on the Ingles site. I didn't quite follow the recipe exactly. I forgot to get fennel and celery. I am not a huge almond fan so I left those out and subbed Oyster sauce for Soy sauce. Even with all the changes these things were amazing. Trust me! Oh and this Nantahala sausage is awesome...not to mention local.

Picture source

3) Stuffed peppers. I actually had quite a bit of the quinoa/sausage mix left over from the cabbage rolls so I used it in stuffed green peppers...delish!

4) Next up is this recipe...how delicious does that look?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Little Bradley Falls aka Beau's waterfall

Several months ago Beau and a friend went on a hike out in Green River Cove and were psyched to discover a beautiful waterfall. For awhile they thought they were like Lewis and Clark but as it turned out, they had really just found an alternative path to a somewhat popular fall called Little Bradley Falls. Beau may not have been the first to discover it but to me it will always be Beau's waterfall.
Beau's been dying to go back so this morning we decided that this would be how we'd spend Sunday afternoon with the pups. And I'm so glad we did. We had a blast and literally every weekend that we go out hiking more and more signs of spring are popping up to let us know that March 20th (first day of spring) will be here before we know it.
The first day of spring is not just exciting for us because we go stir crazy in the winter time (Beau more than me). March 20th marks the 3rd anniversary of the day Beau asked me to be his wife and made me the happiest little lady in the world.
I hope you're enjoying these last few days of winter with someone you love!
A little mid-hike smooch

Fearless Frankie seems just as pumped about the view as we are!

I love this tough little pup!

Rocky was thrilled to be out running around.

In my book, butterfly = spring

A little love from Frankie...

If Frankie can see her shadow, spring is here!

Pwetty flowers!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Closing out my 30th Birthday month with a weekend away

So to finish out my b-day month (that's right people, I was turning thirty so I got a month) of celebration, we decided to go stay at a friend's cabin in Sylva for the weekend. We were blessed with some great weather on Saturday morning so we set off in search of a waterfall but took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on a great, forest trail. Here are some pics from our journey.
A cool, old hearth we happened across on our hike.

I love this pup!!! We got him on my birthday last year!

Rocky and I relaxing after a long hike :-)
After we got back to the cabin we were both super hungry and since we were only a few miles from Cherokee we decided to head over to the casino to check out the Paula Deen restaurant. The food was AMAZING! Beau definitely questioned my incredible love of Paula and her cuisine but after that, he was hooked too!
The food was good but the casino itself made me super sad. First of all, you have to understand, this casino is in the middle of nowhere. What was crazy though is the number of people that were there. Of course, you have to walk through the whole casino to get to Paula's and I am not kidding, 95% of the slot machines were filled with people. I thought we were at the end of a recession. People were spending money there like it was nothing.
I can't help but wonder, what have we learned from this recession? The greatest generation was the greatest because they learned a lesson from the hard times they experienced. What happens to those of us who fall on hard times and don't embrace the lesson we can learn from it? Like the saying goes, "those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it."
I don't know about you guys but I have no interest in repeating another recession any time soon. So we need to all take the lessons we learned from the hard times we've just been through and remember them and make changes. Save more. Spend less. Find ways to entertain yourself and your family that don't cost money. Don't live in fear but do have a plan for hard times.
It killed me to see all those people throwing, what I'm sure was hard-earned, money away on slot machines. And I haven't even talked about how smokey the place was but that made the entire thing completely unbearable.
It made me realize how lucky Beau and I are to have a love for the outdoors. Over the past couple years we've had some amazing times with just a backpack filled with water, granola bars and a trail to hike only spending money on a bit of gas. I promise I didn't spend the whole weekend depressed about what I saw at the casino but I did take it as an opportunity to learn a lesson. I also took the opportunity to look forward to spring. There were a couple twists on that trail that led to greener foliage that made me feel like I was turning the corner on spring. I can't wait for everything to turn green again!
Anyway, all in all my birthday month was amazing. I never dreaded closing in on 30 and I have to say that it's treated me well so far. I'm excited to see what the future has in store for Beau and I over the coming year as we take on our thirties together... :-)