March 30, 2016

Guide to Vail Colorado

Another year of spring skiing with another years trip to Vail. This one was a nice one and my first one on my new ACL!

We were also blessed with a not snowy drive to and from and plenty of fresh powder during the week.

Lots of powder made for lots of skiing and unfortunately a lot less pictures...sorry mom!
Oh wait...here is some!



Since we go here annually and I don't have a lot of pictures to show from this trip, I thought I would make a little guide to Vail, Colorado. There is clearly a lot more to this city, but here is a taste of what we love. If you want to see lots of pictures of us over the years check out some previous Vail trips here and here.

Oh and Colorado folk please add any other favorites to this in comments!

Bites:
Casa Mexico: This is a newer restaurant in Vail but perfect for a nice happy hour and very affordable for those who can't splurge the Vail way.

Westside Cafe: This is a great little breakfast joint for a nice sit down or a quick grab and go. Like above, it is a great value.

Pazzo's Pizzeria: This is a great little place in the heart of downtown Vail. I love that! The food is great and affordable.

Garfinkel's: This Lionshead restaurant has an amazing porch that looks onto the ski area. It is perfect for a bite on a bluebird day!!

Red Lion: If bars are your thing, this is a popular hotspot of food, drink, and music.

Tavern on the Square: Down in Lionshead there is a really nice place to stay called Arrabelle. They own a restaurant right across from Garfinkel's. This means a porch with a great view of the slopes and a nice bit of refinement. I love enjoying a nice glass of apres ski wine and appetizer here.

Pepi's: If you want to experience an amazing piece of Vail's history, Pepi's is a must. This is family owned and operated by Pepi Gramshammer a world famous Austrian Ski Racer and his wife. They are original to Vail. This is in downtown Vail with the classic Vail European charm. Oh and the food is great!!

Bites and Experiences:
Vail is truly unique in the fact that there are a lot of great places that can put an experience with a meal. Here are some great places to try!

CineBistro: I honestly don't like going to movie theaters that aren't fancy anymore. I love the experience of going to a movie theater with a nice seat and some great food. This place has just that!

Bol: Fancy food and bowling. What more can you ask for? It is an elevated bowling experience.

Beano's Cabin: I really want to try this place. You get a sleigh ride up to an amazing dinner. What a snowy wonderland experience!

Sights:
Ski Vail: I mean you knew I would say this right?!? It is my favorite ski area ever! It is a huge mountain and has something for every type of ski/snowboarder.

Shop: Explore Vail Village and Lionshead. The public transportation in Vail is free so that makes it really easy to go to both!

Ice Skating: The open skate hours are a little limited but who doesn't love a bit of ice!



So there is just a little taste of things to do in Vail, Colorado!

March 28, 2016

Low Carb Buffalo Wings

So it has been a while since Peyton Manning retired, but I thought I should address it! You know, being a big Broncos fan and a very big Peyton Manning fan and all... I am very happy and sad to see one of my favorite's retire. He really has been an incredible person, player, and role model for me.

He retired a Bronco. Bronco football has been more than watching a game for me. Kevin introduced me to Bronco football and since it has been a great part of our relationship. For me football has been apart of some of my happiest memories in love, friendship, laughter, and food.

Oh, the food.

So in honor of Peyton, I want to share my orange pride (and still stay diet friendly) with my Low Carb Buffalo Wings.



Ingredients:

4 pounds of chicken wings
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter (I always use unsalted)
12 ounces of Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce (I use Frank's)

Directions:

Place chicken on a cookie sheet and season with some salt and pepper and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Sometimes a little longer if you like them a little crispier.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and hot sauce. Simmer over low heat while the wings are in the oven.

Remove wings from the oven and toss 3/4 of sauce over to coat the chicken. Put back on the cookie sheet and bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Add the remainder of the sauce and serve with some great blue cheese dressing (Ranch has more carbs!)

March 25, 2016

Ham Quiche Cups

Happy Good Friday! I hope everyone is gearing up for a great weekend! I am hoping for one of rest and relaxation. It has been busy around these parts lately and doesn't look to be slowing down! Unfortunately, I have to work Easter...

One of my favorite little breakfasts to make are these Ham Quiche Cups. I like to make them on a day off and then grab and go with them before work. But these would also be a great breakfast for this Easter Weekend!

Oh and here are some more ideas for Easter recipes that you can use some of your leftover ham with.

Ingredients:

3 eggs
2/3 cup of milk
1 cup of cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon of thyme
12 pieces of thinly sliced ham


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk eggs in a bowl and add milk, thyme, and cheese.

In muffin pan, add a slice of ham into each chamber. Then spoon egg mixture about 3/4 full into ham.

Bake for 25 minutes and enjoy. You can enjoy later by freezing as well! To de-thaw put in microwave on high for 30 second intervals until ready to enjoy!

Then serve immediately and enjoy! This makes 12 regular muffin sized cups.

March 23, 2016

Advice For First Time Skiiers

I love spring skiing. It is always my favorite. I am coming home from Vail now and have to go straight into three days of work. Perfect...so not looking forward to that. Does anyone else need a vacation from their vacation?

Anyway, I have noticed that a lot of people are getting out and trying skiing this season and that makes me very happy. Skiing is a fun way to spend time outdoors! 

Here are some of my tips for first time skiiers:



The boots are uncomfortable. 
Yep, we all know, so once you start to enjoy and want to invest in ski stuff, buy your own boots. It will make a world of difference. When walking, keep your boots loosened and then tighten them when you are at the slope.

Dress appropriately.
You are going to want your base layer to be a wicking layer. This means absolutely NO COTTON. My usual is a long sleeve shirt, a second medium thickness layer, and then my ski jacket. Also you need to have a base layer (kind of like long underwear) under your ski pants. Also they make ski socks that are usually pretty great. On really warm days I will wear some compression socks and not my ski socks. Your feet and hands are often the first things that get cold and when they do it makes the whole experience really bitter. Bundle up for your first time. Personally, I would rather be too hot than too cold.

You can buy warmers.
There are disposable glove and boot warmers out on the market. Pro people will tell you never to put anything into your boots if they are fitted for you. But seeing as this is your first time and you are renting equipment, if you think you could be cold, this might not be a bad thing to have on hand.

Trees Don't Move.
This is true, so please be careful! You may fall a couple of times, but get back up. After you learn and get back on your feet...skiing is fun! Promise!

Look At Your Budget.
I hope people look at their budget with anything, but skiing is a bit of an expensive endeavor. Just be prepared to account for a lift ticket, lessons (if you do them), your equipment, and of course apres ski...cause everyone deserves a drink!





What advice and recommendations do you have for first time skiiers?

March 21, 2016

Weekend Scenes

Well this weekend was one where I got back from my annual Vail, Colorado vacation then immediately 5 hours later went into work. I didn't get a single trip to the gym in. I followed by grocery shopping (productive/had to!). Never go to the grocery hungry. Those reeses that are on sale? They'll make their way into your cart. So will the cheese and wine. :( Oh well, #yolo right?



It is so hard to get back into the swing of work even after only a week off.
And it was a great week off of doing nothing...except skiing. So nice!

Well for now I better get back to work. I am done with my string of shifts on Wednesday and am going to try and catch up on some sleep and honestly just sit around and do nothing. Maybe with that nothing a good blog post will come on out, but today...naw.

Oh and as of yesterday, happy one year anniversary to my new ACL! It is doing fantastic!

xo!

March 18, 2016

Travelling: Red Rocks Colorado

So these aren't the best photos forthcoming. I have a DSLR that I really need to learn how to use. Might help with the lighting taking pictures when you spontaneously go on a trip to Red Rocks, Colorado...

How does one who lives in Arizona just go to Red Rocks at a moments notice you ask?

Well Kevin and I were in Denver for a ski show (SIA-Snow Sports Industry) with his aunt and uncle. It was pretty cool to see an industry show for the first time! Anyway, we were there in Denver for the weekend and seeing the show isn't that amazing that I needed a whole weekend....so.....

I woke up one morning and looked at Kevin and said "fancy a walk?"
Now mind you it had been very cold and snow was on the ground, but the morning warmed up very nicely and turned out to be a great spur of the moment adventure.

This is not the first time I have done Red Rocks, but I highly recommend you go if you are near and around Denver. (Red Rocks is only 15 miles away from Denver.) Here are four things you need to know about Red Rocks, Colorado.


It Is An Amphitheater
I haven't been for a concert, but I would imagine it would be pretty cool!

It Is a Workout
You will see in the morning people doing some pretty amazing workouts that make you want to try and join. At least for the first couple of steps. Then you are too tired. Those Coloradans are in shape!

It Is Great For Everyone
You can do the Trading Post Trail (1.4 miles round trip) hike which technically is not challenging. Just know, you are right outside of Denver (The Mile High City) so there is elevation and it will get you! It isn't much higher than Denver, but all the same, bring water!

It Is Free
So why not go?!

And now here is a photo dump:







Happy Friday and Happy Weekend Exploring!

March 16, 2016

Low Carb Cream Cheese Pancakes

As a nurse, working 12+ hour days can be tiring. Often times when I am tired in the morning, the last thing I want to do is make any breakfast. I know if I don't eat breakfast though, I will be in major trouble grabbing food I shouldn't. 

So I need something that I can just grab and go. I love making these pancakes ahead of time and storing them in the fridge. All then I have to do in the morning is warm them up and grab and go. My favorite low carb toppings include fruit compound butters, compound cream cheese (I'll share some of my recipes on those soon!), peanut butter, or heck....just nothing. These are plain good!

And I guess these aren't just limited to breakfast. I have had them after dinner some nights for a small sweet treat.


Ingredients:

2 ounces of cream cheese
1 teaspoon of stevia powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 eggs

Directions:

Pour all ingredients into a Magic Bullet or a blender.
When I make the single batch above, I use the Magic Bullet, when I double, triple, or quadruple it I use the blender.

Once blended, cook like pancakes. They will be slightly harder to flip because they are slightly thinner than normal pancakes.

Serve and enjoy immediately! I like to use a little bit of peanut butter or flavored butter or options I mentioned above to keep on the low carb side. You could also use sugar free syrup or some fresh fruit. Or nothing! Enjoy!

Here is to a grab and go breakfast that is healthy and yummy!

March 14, 2016

Three Things for a Better Life

It is officially spring?! Here in Arizona all the flowers are in bloom and unfortunately we are going through periods where we are skipping spring. We have already had many days in the 90s. The 90s!! That is way too hot too early! Let's hope this isn't worlds longest summer...

So despite this weather going between spring and summer, and not knowing what to call this season, I will call it happy! This year so far has been great. Not because anything particularly incredible has happened, but because I feel like I have come back to what I enjoy in both my work, my health, and my personal life.

Here are three things that I am doing that are making my season all the more happy!



Embracing the Little Moments
Several times in the last week or so, I have caught myself in the middle of a moment: making dinner, snuggling on the couch watching TV with Kevin, drinking a happy hour glass of wine with a girlfriend, etc...Somehow, looking for these moments, I am finding there are more of them than I realized. And they are happy moments that make me really glad my life is my life. Who doesn't love that?


Not Rushing Myself
Now sometimes you need to think about next steps, trust me, I am usually always doing that! But right now gratitude is what I feel. I need to embrace the now and live it instead of wishing I was already where I want to be next. You can choose to make space for what you want and need as you go. I know like with me knee, I just wanted to at my next milestone, move past the struggle in the journey...but that in hindsight, was there to teach me. Once we overcome and obstacle, we can accept that we are grateful for what we have. Embrace what you have now! There doesn't always have to be a rush for me, and I like that!


Admitting to Myself That I am Not Half Bad
I am SO bad at fitness routines and eating healthy and getting house chores done and blogging and... the list goes on. I now post 3x a week and go exercise on days that I don't work 13 hour shifts.  I think that shows some improvement. Not being that bad at it is a cool thing I like admitting to myself now. Plus, if you strive and do the best you can, it helps when you are facing more uncertain and overwhelming parts of life.


Being aware of these little acknowledgements is making this chaotic thing we call life quite a bit more enjoyable. I hope it continues! But if not, there is always chocolate!

March 11, 2016

Who Needs Bread?!

I have been eating healthier and improving my lifestyle and it has it's ups and downs, but slowly but surely, it has been a nice improvement. Personally I am using a low carb diet method.

My mom has adapted beautifully to the low carb style. I only wish I can be half as successful! Speaking of parents, I don't like the New York Times, but there was a study that showed they typical American only lives 18 miles away from their mom. I am sadly not one of those Americans.

But anyway, my mom always told me lunch should be the biggest and best meal of the day. For me and my late night work schedules, lunch being a bigger meal for me makes sense so I don't feel the need to go to sleep on a full stomach. Sandwiches are my favorite lunch food, but are high in carb count. So far I have found that because I am low carb, doesn't mean I can't indulge! Here are four of my favorite ways to have sandwiches...sans bread!


Cucumber Sandwiches:
The are bomb. Cut the cucumber length wise. I personally love using my middles for sandwiches.
Paleo Sandwich Recipe




Lettuce Wraps:

Grab a leaf of lettuce and put in some tuna or my chicken salad mixture. They are like little taco boats of goodness! You could really put lots of stuff in the lettuce leaf. I also like using a leaf with cheese, mayo, a pickle, and turkey and just eating that. The possibilities are endless!


Sandwich Skewers:
For when I am feeling really lazy and want some good presentation.
Seriously just grab wooden skewers and add any meat and any vegetables you please and you are good to go! Dip them in a side of ranch and you got it!

Italian Sub:
I love making these for parties with a big loaf of French Bread, but I can use the meat as the bread! For my version with bread, I use honey ham, salami, sausage, and pepperoni. I then add peperchinis, jalapenos, bell pepper, tomatoes, and lots of melted mozzarella cheese and olive oil/salt/pepper. 


For my version without bread, I use honey, ham, salami, and pepperoni. I layer them then I add spinach, bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers, mayo and mustard.

Roll and overlap the meats for the outside and thinly slice your middle stuff and roll that in as tight as you can . Wrap it in parchment or wax paper like a burrito and you are off to go.


What are some of your favorite ways to make your favorite foods healthier?

March 9, 2016

Visiting: Lake Tahoe

I love ski season! I mentioned here that I was really enjoying getting into skiing again after tearing my ACL.

This year, Kevin and I tried a new location for skiing: Lake Tahoe. Wow, it is truly skiing with the most beautiful views!

If you don't believe me, take a look:

We went to Heavenly for the entirety of our trip. We also planned to go to Northstar and Kirkwood as well, but some winter weather road conditions made it hard to drive to Tahoe with a rental car, so we opted for a shuttle and not having a car while in Tahoe.

Without a car, here is what we did visiting South Lake Tahoe!


Eat:
Base Camp Pizza
Right in the heart of Heavenly Village makes this place great. It is not the best pizza I have ever had, but it is very good! Who doesn't love pizza after a day of skiing?!

Azul Latin Kitchen
This place is owned by the same people who own Base Camp Pizza (and right next to it!). If you dine at any of these places, save your receipts because they offer 10% off at any of their other restaurants. I enjoyed some tacos, I think they were a little overpriced, but good!

Artemis Lakefront Cafe
Okay, by far the best place we ate in South Lake Tahoe! The hummus, service, price, lakefront, and gyro...all perfect!!

Stay:
The Bluelake Inn. Okay, so this place would not be fancy enough for some, but I am cheap and stayed in a motel with excellent proximity to Heavenly. It was not the most comfortable bed, but it was clean and did the job for somewhere to stay

Do:
Ski Heavenly! 
It is beautiful!

If you don't wanna ski and still see the beautiful view, there is an observation deck and you can pay for a Gondola ride up there! One of our favorite runs was Ellie's Run, but I could be biased because that's my youngest sister's name!



Oh and even though it was winter, we went to the beach. It was fun to see! And I even made a new friend on the beach!



Where are some of your favorite places to visit in winter?

March 7, 2016

Chicken Salad + Thoughts on Getting Older

Gosh, I am aging. There are lines on my face and hands that just weren't there before and my hair, metabolism, and hormones are changing. It's not something I really want to think about, but the truth is, regardless if I want to believe it or not, I’m not getting any younger. I have proven I no longer am as young as I once was by hurting my knee and with occasional back problems. Furthermore, I can't scarf down a pizza and not gain the weight. The weight is there my friends! When you feel any physical effects of "getting older" it is scary.

How I choose to care for my body now is more important than ever. Young me could get away with eating pizza and quesadillas multiple times a week and being too lazy to workout (well, for most of my young life, I did swim, so I guess I have always worked out) But now me? Not so much. It is the lifestyle I choose to live right now that will create the path of my future health.

I have made a promise to myself to get active and stay active. I joined a gym and all that jazz. But my friends, the truth is, that it all doesn't matter unless I am healthy in the kitchen.

Simple right? Lauren workout and put good things in your body. Putting good things in your body doesn't just mean eating foods to lose, but to gain! I can gain a lot by putting in some nice spinach into my body. It is these simple foods, simple fixes, that make me lose what I want and gain what I want.

It are these simple things that can make you feel so much better. Slowly, but surely! Anything I can try and do to slow down my aging process, count me in for!

Speaking of simple, sometimes I look at the food I make and wonder what recipes are too simple to put on my blog. Literally, you make this chicken salad once and you will probably never need a recipe. But oh man, is it oh so good!

I love bringing this to work and it usually gets me through two lunches. Sometimes less...what can I say. It is really good!




Ingredients:

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 stocks of celery, diced
1 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of ranch dressing

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together chicken, mayo, and ranch dressing. Toss in bell pepper and celery.

What is your favorite easy and healthy recipe?
What do you like to do to stay healthy?

March 4, 2016

Best Lent Ever

At least so far it is.
Especially better than the lent I tried giving up chocolate. I failed with a girl scout cookie.
I have successfully given up TV before.
Last year I failed in giving up bread.

For those who don't celebrate or know a lot about lent, it is a time where you don't necessarily have to give something up. You can make it a point to do something to better yourself.

This year, I did not give something up.
I am trying to be more purposeful in my thoughts and actions.

Sometimes, I get impatient at the smallest things: when my web page takes more than 10 seconds to load, when I can't get food fast enough, when someone in front of me is walking slow....


We live in a society that's becoming more now, now, now. In TV shows, problems that take a lot of work, effort, and time in real life are wrapped up nicely in a 20-minute episode. Twitter and Facebook are short instances of 140 of characters. We don't want to read about anyone or anything too long. I sadly see a lot of my peers buy cars, homes, and phones they can't afford because waiting and saving up for them is slow. We get fat because we can't say no to the food of here and now, and then we take pills to lose weight because we don't have patience to work it off through diet and exercise. 

This year will be more about patience than penitence for me. I will try and be patient and not eat as much. I will try and not get mad or frustrated when my computer is slow or when other people hold me up. Food I think will be the hardest for me. I need to realize that I don't need to eat everything I want, when I want. 

It is all about learning that happiness doesn't depend on how quickly you obtain it.
And hopefully I will end my lent season in going home and seeing my family for Easter. Sounds pretty great to me!

March 2, 2016

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

So every year for Thanksgiving, my mom makes her Broccoli and Cheese Casserole. It is seriously so yummy and has veggies in it, so I consider it very healthy! (haha, at least low carb...)

But anyway, the other day, I was stuck on what to make for dinner. Some days I just wish a Thanksgiving dinner would appear in front of me. But in lieu, I thought, why can't I make dishes that I usually reserve for Thanksgiving? I mean this one is super easy! Heck, for Thanksgiving, this is the first dish I make because it is easy to make ahead so you can reserve kitchen time and space on the big day.

Okay, enough talking about Thanksgiving. This recipe is great to bribe my husband into eating veggies. I have learned two things about getting guys to eat their veggies. I am sure this applies to kids too. You either have to load it with bacon or cheese.

Yep, and this cheesy goodness does the trick! So I hope you enjoy an easy dinner that everyone will love and that brings back many memories for me!


Ingredients:

10-12 ounce chopped broccoli
1 cup of mayonnaise (do not use miracle whip!)
a couple shakes of onion powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 can of cream of celery soup


Directions:

Combine all ingredients and mix together in bowl.

Pour into 9x12 baking dish. Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Sometimes it will take longer to cook but test the middle for firmness.

Then serve immediately and enjoy!
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