Wild Eats: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Do you ever get in a recipe-rut where you fall into the habit of making the same old things for dinner time after time? I sure do. But some times I get the urge to really put in some effort and make something special. If you’re feeling adventurous, give these Stuffed Bell Peppers a try for dinner tonight. They are easy, healthy, and tasty.

 

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Here’s what you need:

1/2 cup of cooked brown rice

1 lb ground bison

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 onion (chopped)

3 bell peppers

8 oz cans of tomato sauce (x2)

1 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

Cook the brown rice.

Combine the ground bison, the chopped onions, and the minced garlic in a skillet and cook until the bison is evenly brown and the onions are soft.

Remove the tops, seeds, and membranes from the bell peppers and set them top up in a shallow baking dish. If the peppers wont stand up on their own, you can trim off pieces of the bottom to make a flat base.

Mix the browned bison, onions, garlic, rice, one 8 oz can of tomato sauce, and the Worcestershire sauce in a large mixing bowl.

Spoon the mixture evenly into each bell pepper. There will be left over mixture. You can save it for a fajita type deal, or you can go ahead and add another bell pepper to this recipe and stuff a fourth one. Up to you.

Pour the remaining 8 oz can of tomato sauce over the top of the bell peppers. You will use this sauce to baste the bell peppers every 15 minutes as they cook.

Stick the baking dish with the bell peppers into the oven. Cook at 350 for about one hour, basting the bell peppers every 15 minutes with the sauce.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Jump Start Your Spring

Spring has sprung and it’s about time! It was a long winter and it is easy to start feeling a bit stir crazy when your outdoor activities are limited. With the warming of the weather, it’s time to start planning those backpacking trips and getting ready for those wilderness climbs.

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The mountains are calling and I must go. – John Muir

During the winter months it is normal for us to slack on exercise in favor of snuggling up with a blanket by the fire. Nothing wrong with snuggling or blankets or fires, however when spring  rolls around, it can be quite the rude awakening to realize that all of that winter snoozing left you feeling weak, out of breath, and totally unprepared for a long trek. When it’s time to load up your pack and head out into the backcountry, you want to be ready.

Here are a few ways to jump-start your spring and get back into the swing of things, physically:

1. Make a list. Write down your goals [i.e. hikes you want to do, backpacking trips you have planned, climbs you want to try, a beachy vacation that you want to get in shape for…]. That way you can see everything laid out before you. If that isn’t motivation to whip your butt into gear, I don’t know what is.

2. Create a routine. Make a plan of when and where and how often you are going to exercise. If it’s before work five times a week, then set your alarm a little earlier and go to bed a little sooner than you normally would the night before. Then, [and this is easier said than done,] stick to it. Routines take anywhere from 21 to 66 days to form, depending on who you ask. So when your alarm goes off at 5:30am or you get home from work at 7:00pm, don’t give into the urge to “take the day off”. Just do it.

3. Mix up your workout regimen. It’s easy to get bored if you do the same work out every day. So, try picking a few different ways to exercise and rotate through them on various days of the week. When prepping for a backcountry adventure, it is important to not only get good cardiovascular exercise in, but also to build up strength and endurance. Try alternating between running, going on hikes, and yoga.

4. Find workouts that you love. If you enjoy what you are doing, you will be more likely to actually do it. All the good intentions in the world wont make you go out for a run if you absolutely hate running. If a spin class is more your thing, do it! If jump roping floats your boat, do that.

I love taking barre3 classes. They are fun and they really build up your strength and endurance – plus you get a great cardio work out, mixed with toning and stretching. Perfection!

And if hiking is the only form of “working out” that you can stand, go hiking more. 

If crowded trails aren’t your style, check out my post on “Why It’s Good to Get Off the Trail” for some tips on how to find more remote places to hike.

5. Start now! It is not too early to start training for your backpacking trip this June. Start your new exercise routine, and make sure you strap on your loaded pack at every chance you get. Even just walking around your house with it on will build up your strength. You don’t want the first time you put on your pack this year to be when you’re heading out into the wild for three nights.

This is going to be a great year of outdoor exploration!

Let me know your favorite ways to get physically ready for adventure in the comments below!

How To Plan An Adventure

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When it comes to planning an adventure, fantasizing and daydreaming are the easy parts. It is the details that become the challenge. Some people are able to just drop everything, jump in their car, and hit the road, seeking out adventure wherever their journey takes them. No preparation, no plans… Something about that is appealing. The unknown. The spontaneity. The risk. But, if you are like me and my husband, Ben, you enjoy mapping out the route you are going to take and pinpointing places in your road atlas that you want to be sure to hit. The planning process is part of the rush that we get from going on an adventure. It is the phase in which we get to look into different areas and learn about their history and their geographical wonders. It adds to the anticipation.

To begin with, Ben and I work on compiling a list of all of the places that we want to be sure to visit on our trip. We search the web for cool, little known areas. Google maps is great for getting links to pictures that users have uploaded from each area. This allows us to scout the area and get to know the terrain a little bit better. In the case of an area not having any user pictures uploaded, one can assume that not many people have been there. This can be a good thing if your goal is to get away from people and really experience

Be familiar with the terrain.

Be familiar with the terrain.

the wild without the risk of a crowd. The terrain feature in Google maps is a great tool for determining how steep an area might be. This is important when planning backpacking trips.

Once we’ve pinpointed all of the places that we want to hit, Ben and I work on putting together a route. We’ll figure out the most direct [or the most scenic] way to get from point A to point B. After the general route has been mapped out, we start to figure out roughly how much time we are going to need in each place. For instance, a backpacking trip in The Crazies will require four days, and we need to set aside a good couple of days for fly fishing at each river that we will pass.

One of our favorite parts of planning our adventures is learning a bit about the places that we will be visiting. Ben and I research each place that we will be visiting online and sometimes, if there seems to be a lot of history and information available, we even buy a few books. To prepare for an upcoming adventure, Ben bought us a book about Lewis and Clark’s journey through the Missouri Breaks. We plan on floating down a good stretch of the Missouri river and camping in some of the spots that Lewis and Clark made their camps. It makes the experience all the more special if you know a little history about where you are going and who has been there before you.

Most importantly, when planning an adventure, be flexible. Because even with all of the careful research and mapping of routes in the world, it is always wise to expect the unexpected. Unpredictability is the very essence of adventure.

Now, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

A good adventure buddy is a must!

A good adventure buddy is a must!

Wild Eats: Banana Bread Recipe

Tasty, somewhat healthy-ish, and easy. Makes a great breakfast, just grab a piece on your way out the door all week.

ImageIngredients:

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar (Ok, so this recipe is not even remotely healthy-ish)

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

3 mashed up, ripe bananas

1/3 cup strawberry Greek yogurt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix coconut flour, whole wheat flour, and baking soda. Combine sugar and butter in a separate bowl and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the mashed bananas and yogurt. Beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in and beat until moist. Pour batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan that has been greased or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until a knife inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

Beauty, Naturally

 

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I will admit, I love makeup. I love doing my hair and dressing up. But, I’ve learned that if you aren’t healthy and beautiful on the inside, you wont look your best on the outside, regardless of how much foundation and mascara you use. Recently, I’ve been on a quest to find a natural beauty regimen. I spend a lot of time outdoors, camping and exploring with my husband, and I don’t take makeup with me when I’m out adventuring! So, it has become essential that I focus on shifting my beautifying techniques to start on the inside, rather than focusing on products that go on the outside. Glowing, flawless skin, a healthy complexion, glossy hair…all of that depends on what you put into your body. Here are a few tricks that I’ve learned to attain beauty in a natural, healthful way:

1. Drink water. No…I mean LOTS of water. Our bodies are primarily made up of water. When you feel yourself becoming thirsty, that means that your body is already in the beginning stages of dehydration. It is recommended that you drink water constantly throughout the day rather than waiting until you feel parched. I keep a 22oz bottle with me, and I try to drink at least three bottles full of water each day. Ideally, one should be drinking at least half of one’s body weight in water every 24 hours. Water helps to flush toxins out of your body, and, most importantly, your skin. If you start amping up your water intake, I bet you will notice your skin start to clear up and, before long, it will take on that greatly coveted natural glow. *Bonus: Drinking more water will give you energy!

2. Coconut Oil. I have found that coconut oil makes an incredible, all natural moisturizer. It can be used all over your body, like a lotion – minus the chemical ingredients. Coconut oil is a wonderful lip balm, and it makes your skin positively glow. It’s also great to use in your hair as a conditioner. Just smooth it into your strands before a shower, and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it out.

3. Limit Dairy. I’ve been trying to limit my dairy intake and since I’ve done that, my skin has become less bumpy and more smooth.

4. Stock Up On ZZZZs. Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep every night is a crucial part of a natural beauty regimen. When you sleep, your body repairs itself. Your mind, your skin, every single part of you is worked on while you sleep. Getting enough sleep reduces dark circles under your eyes, adds to your natural glow, and helps to reduce cortisol levels (which are caused by stress). Investing in some quality sleep is a good idea whenever you can.

5. Exercise! Whether it is a relaxing yoga class, a nice run outside, a fast-paced barre class [my favorite barre workout is barre3: www.barre3.com], or a full-body toning video from the girls over at Tone it Up! [www.toneitup.com].  It doesn’t matter what you do. Find something you love that makes you feel good about yourself, and then make it a habit! My favorite form of exercise is hiking. What’s yours?  Exercise will increase circulation in your body, and it helps pump oxygen to your organs. And don’t forget, what is the largest organ in the body? That’s right – skin. Exercise will make your skin healthier. And that’s what we’re going for with this natural beauty regimen! So even if you just do a Tone it Up video for 15 minutes, or an hour-long barre3 class, that’s ok. As long as you are doing something good for yourself to get your body moving a little, that can do wonders for your body and, especially, your mind. Exercise reduces cortisol levels, keeps you limber, and gives you endorphins which make you happy. And happiness is beautiful!

6. Relax. I’ve been mentioning cortisol – that nasty chemical that is released in your body when you are stressed. Too much cortisol can have detrimental effects on your health. Try to make an effort to relax and let go of stress. Take a hot, candle lit bath with your favorite bath soaps. Go on a weekend getaway with your honey. Curl up by the fire with a good book and zone out for a while. Get a massage, or a manicure and pedicure. Drink some tea, or a glass of vino and just…let go every once in a while. It will do wonders for your body…and your mental health.

7. Pay Attention to What Kind of Food You Eat. I’ve tried to focus on eating whole foods and I have been making an effort to eliminate processed foods from my diet. When you think about it, processed foods are hardly food at all. They are modified, filled with chemicals, salt, and sugar, all in an effort to appeal to the taste buds, while completely disregarding what they do to our bodies. By sticking to whole foods, you can be more sure of what is going into your body. Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish…these are all things that are in their natural forms. Stick to those types of foods. Your body will thank you for it.

 

 

Morning Rituals

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How you start your day is important. What you do, see, feel, hear, smell, or taste first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to get out of that warm bed in the morning, especially during the winter time when those blankets feel extra cozy and the house feels extra chilly.

It’s important to make a conscious decision about how you are going to start each day. You can choose to fill your morning with happy, positive thoughts and rituals. There are little things that you can do in the early hours, when you are fresh out of dream-land and your mind is a clean slate. Here are a few ways to make waking up a little easier:

1. Try making one of your favorite songs your alarm. Waking up to something that makes you happy will get your morning off to a great start.

2. Instead of jumping on facebook first thing in the morning, try meditating on everything that you have to be thankful for. Focusing on the positive things in your life is a great habit to get into.  Look for the good in the day ahead.

3. Prepare for your day the night before. Pack your lunch, get your clothes all laid out, and make sure you have all the ingredients ready for a good breakfast. Prepping the night before will save you from unnecessary stress in the morning.

4. Coffee. Just knowing there is hot coffee waiting for you is good motivation to slip out of that warm bed.

And my last bit of advice…

5. Try very hard, whenever possible, to wake up in the mountains…preferably in time to watch the sunrise. With coffee.

3 Ways to Keep Up Your Summertime Momentum!

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It’s easy to fall into a gloomy funk once the warm, adventure conducive days of summer begin to fade away. How is an outdoor enthusiast supposed to survive an icey, cold winter, deprived of camping, hiking, or backcountry adventure?

Well, the answer is that you don’t have to, my friend! Outdoor exploration is possible in the cold winter months. You have to be a bit more hardcore, but snowy adventures can be the most magical and can make for some of the best stories.

Not everyone is into the idea of camping or backpacking in the snow. I don’t blame you. It’s cold. But there are other ways that you can get your nature-boost in the wild during the winter without sleeping on icy ground.

So, bundle up! Here are 3 ways to keep up your summer time momentum all the way through the coldest of months:

  1. Lace up your boots, throw on an extra layer of wool socks, and hike! Don’t let a little snow stop you. One of my husband’s and my favorite hikes was an entirely new experience when we did it in the snow. The hike winds up a steep, switch-back path to the top of a mountain. At the top, there is a beautiful lake, surrounded by jagged peaks. When we did the hike in January, the way up the mountain was completely empty. No other hikers dared to attempt the snowy, icy climb. When we made it to the top, the lake had been transformed from when we had seen it last during the summer months. It was magical, and it became a fond, special memory for us. [I’m not like most bloggers…I’ll let you in on a secret: if you live in Washington, check out Lake Serene off of Highway 2 for a beautiful, challenging day hike.]
  2. Snowshoe… cover snowy ground in a fun, efficient way. Explore a new silent, snowy world, blanketed in white. Snowshoeing is great exercise and it is such a good way to wander over otherwise tricky to traverse, snow drift covered land.
  3. Sled…and I don’t mean that little old wooden thing from when you were a kid. I’m talking about snowmobiles, which are often referred to as sleds by those who are in the know. And now you know. You can rent sleds at many different resorts and shops during the winter time. They are an excellent way to get a fix when you have the need for speed. You can also cover a lot more ground than you can on foot or on snowshoes. My husband was a snowmobile guide one winter. We took sleds out together for the first time a few years back and it was such an incredible rush! There is so much power in those machines and you can glide over the snow and charge up icy mountains like it’s nothing. I highly recommend giving it a try. You’ll be hooked.
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One of our favorite hikes was transformed in the snow!

Don’t let the shorter days and cooler temps keep you huddling, defeated indoors. Try something new! Go have a chilly adventure and breathe in the cool, fresh air! It will thrill you!

Wild Eats: Mountain Man Chili Recipe

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Mountain Man Chili

The weather is turning. The days are getting shorter and the air is getting colder. Fall is in full swing and that means less time out camping in the wilderness and more time holed up at home with a fire blazing in the fire place and cuddling in lots of cozy, warm blankets.

I love fall. The world is transformed with bright colors and crisp air. With the changing of the weather, I have been craving something hearty and hot and Mountain Man Chili is just the thing to hit the spot!

My mom and I perfected this recipe and it is hubby approved! Here’s how to make a big batch of this hot, savory goodness:

Ingredients:

3-4 lbs of ground beef (or ground bison for you extra wild folks)

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Two 15oz cans of tomato sauce

1/3 green bell pepper, chopped

3/4 yellow onion, chopped

4 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

One 15 oz can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

One 15 oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Top with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions, and fresh lime juice.

Directions:

Brown the ground beef (or bison) in a large pan with the chopped garlic cloves. Once the meat is brown, dump it into a large, deep pot and add in the tomato sauce, green pepper, onion, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and oregano. Mix well, cover the pot, and simmer over low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of water as needed if the mixture gets too dry. After one hour, add in the kidney beans and the pinto beans. Stir well to mix the beans in. Then cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve hot. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and chopped onions, and squeeze a little fresh lime juice on top. Enjoy!

Five Ways to Get Outside – No Excuses!

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Pull on those adventure-boots and get outside!

I am all about getting outside, doing something adventurous, trying new things, staying active, and pushing my limits. I think everyone should! The world is such a big, beautiful place just waiting to be explored. There is so much out there in nature that we can (and should!) take advantage of.

Now, I know some people who are used to watching tv on the weekends and going to the nearest mall for entertainment might not know quite where to start when it comes to getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors. Six years ago I wouldn’t have known where to start either. Outdoor activities seemed fairly unattainable and, frankly, undesirable. Too much work, dirt, and risk. However, over the past few years I have learned that getting outside is not only GOOD for a person’s mind, body, and soul, but it can be easy and oh-so-fun!

So, for those of you who just need some ideas of where to start, here you go. Five ways to get outside and enjoy the bountiful playground of the wild!

1. Go hiking! Such great exercise, AND you get to breathe in the fresh air of the great outdoors. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the malls and the crowds; get off your couch; grab a friend, or go alone… There are so many trails out there. Just Google hiking trails in your area and I guarantee you will find some great options, regardless of your skill level. Whether it’s a short little walk through the woods, a 5 mile trek up a mountain, or a 3 day backpacking trip in the back country, getting moving and exploring in the great outdoors will do you good.  I would argue that there is hardly anything better for you than getting out into nature, walking through a forest or up a mountain, connecting with the wild, breathing in the pure air, and getting some exercise. Plus, making it to the end of a trail is such a rewarding experience! You will be proud of yourself AND the view from the top is almost ALWAYS worth the sweat.

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Go climb a mountain!

2. Ride a bike! If you don’t have one, rent one! Pick your desired level of intensity and gogogo! Go for a nice, level ride on a paved path, or pick a mountain and charge it. Get out there, test your limits. Put the pedal to the metal!

3. SUP! Stand Up Paddleboarding is one of my new favorite things to do. It is an excellent source of exercise for your whole body, AND it allows you to get out on the water anywhere there is a body of water near by. There is something so relaxing and grounding about being out on the water on a paddleboard. Whether you are catching waves in the ocean, or cutting across a glassy lake, you will get a good work out AND get outside. You can paddleboard all year round too. Just bundle up in the winter time and hit the lake. I love being out on the water on a clear, calm, winter day. You can rent paddleboards all over the place. Again, just Google SUP rentals in your area. My board is from Perfect Wave Surf Shop [www.perfectwave.com].

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SUP!

4. Bouldering! What is bouldering, you might ask? Well, it is a form of rock climbing that does not use ropes or harnesses. Raw, baby. Just you, gripping a rock wall with your bare hands. Talk about extreme. This is a great way to test yourself and push yourself to new limits. Conquer your fear! I’m terrified of heights, but hey, what better way to get over that than to climb a rock wall with no safety net? Best part about it: no gear required! Worst part about it: no gear required!

5. Go fishing! Fishing is a huge passion of mine. I am a fly fisher-woman myself, but there are all different kinds of fishing that you can learn. Whether you hit the nearest lake with a spinning reel and some PowerBait, or go squid jigging off a pier in the ocean, you are bound to have a great time, especially if you bring a buddy along. But seriously, try fly fishing…it’s the best.

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Fly Fishing on the Yellowstone!

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Squid Jiggin’ with buddies!

So, no excuses! There are so many things to try and so many ways to get yourself outside! Go! Have the adventures that you have been yearning for! Make them happen! Push yourself, conquer your fears, and make yourself proud!