Summer Adventure + Tasty Bite Review: Part II

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Several weeks ago, I had a decent stretch of time off from work – simply because that was the way my schedule ended up. In a span of seven days, Tim and I spent five of them immersed in the wilderness. It was awesome. If you didn’t catch Part I, you can read all about it here!

I’m quite fond of backpacking trips that lead out of the trees and into a world dotted with alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, and grand views of snow-capped peaks. We have a few favorite trails, one of them being the Broken Top Loop near Sisters, OR. We hiked this 25-mile gem two years ago and knew we would make it a point to return again.

Sadly, during the year between our first and second visit, a wildfire damaged a generous portion of the trail (4-5 miles or so). The area is still beautiful, but wow, what a transformation of landscape! Charred tree trunks, dusty black ash underfoot, not much greenery, and no shelter from the sweltering summer sun.

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This time around, we took less photographs, but I think we still captured the beauty. And, we had a Tasty Bite meal to review. Easy dinners are always appreciated after climbing for 8 miles!

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We camped close to a mountain lake on our first night – the perfect place to splash around in icy water and cool off. We had the company of dozens of squawky Clark’s Nutcrackers. They are noisy and hilarious. Tim recorded them and you can listen here and here! I loved hearing their sharp beaks peck away at pinecones.

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After relaxing and rehydrating, we whipped up dinner: a pouch of Tasty Bite’s Ginger Lentil Rice plus some kale and vacuum-packed tofu we brought from home. Gourmet, right?! It was filling and very flavorful. We marveled at how we could detect all the fresh spices and ingredients.

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I would absolutely make this meal again. Dry rice takes too much time to cook when backpacking so this was a special treat. Tasty Bite provides lots of nourishment in a small pouch, and enough food to feed two hungry (HUNGRY) vegans.

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As you can see, Tim is a fan of smiling for the camera. We hope to get several more backpacking trips in before the weather turns wet and cold. We have a few months still so it should be easy!

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See ya next time!

 

Summer Adventures + Tasty Bite Review: Part I

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Escaping the scorching summer heat is easy when you live in the Pacific Northwest. Just head for the mountains! Every year, Tim and I try to take advantage of our flexible work schedules and hit the trails for multi-day backpacking trips. I absolutely love the solitude –  and wilderness adventures confirm that I’m not much of a city girl. Thankfully Portland is a small-ish city surrounded by mountain peaks waiting to be explored.

A few weeks ago we revisited one of our favorite backpacking destinations: the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington state. While the drive creeps close to three hours, it is worth every single second. We have hiked this trail four times now, and three out of those four times resulted in complete solitude at our campsite. I love when that happens.

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This particular trip was just an over-nighter, but lingering longer would have been possible if jobs back home didn’t exist. :) Meal planning was easy because the kind folks at Tasty Bite contacted me awhile ago asking if I wanted to review some of their products. Tasty Bite makes ready-to-eat Indian and Pan Asian meals with a focus on fresh, natural ingredients. The packages don’t weigh much and heat up in just a few minutes, so they are ideal for folks with busy lifestyles or outdoor adventures on their agendas, like me!

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We packed Thai Lime Rice and Channa Masala – fusion food that worked surprisingly well together. But, before I get to the review, let’s take a peek at a few more trail photographs, shall we?

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And then we ate dinner:

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It was close to freezing (yes, even in August!) by the time we went to sleep. And because we were up near 7,000 feet in elevation, we literally slept in the clouds the entire night. So, this warming meal was a pleasant surprise. Not only was it filling and flavorful, but a bit spicy too. We both really enjoyed the fact that the chickpeas weren’t mushy. The rice was perfectly cooked. And, we tasted ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and lime – so many delicious flavors in one meal! We devoured this pretty quickly and the servings per pouch fed two hungry hikers. Thank you, Tasty Bite, for the samples!!

The next morning, we hit the trial again. More fog. More clouds. More solitude.

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And before we knew it, we were back home in Portland. But, the adventures continued the following week. Stay tuned for Part II!

Who’s Nuts? Review: Lush Nuts *New* Almonds

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A few days ago I won a contest on Facebook. The prize? A sampler of the new almond line from Lush Gourmet Foods. If you aren’t familiar with Lush Gourmet Foods, let me introduce you! This Michigan-based company handcrafts amazingly addictive peanuts and almonds using high quality ingredients, no added oils, and no preservatives or artificial flavors. The end result is delightfully crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet-n-salty, full-flavored, coated nuts. Got that? Here are some fun facts:

  • Made with USA-grown peanuts and almonds
  • Good source of protein
  • Handcrafted in small batches
  • 100% vegan
  • Natural ingredients
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Gluten-free

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I regret to inform you that I plowed through these little bags without a single thought of sharing even one nut. Well, there are a few left, but who knows if Tim will find my hidden stash before I finish them…

The sampler included three varieties: Coconut Orange Peel, Coconut Lavender, and Dark Cocoa Chili.

Coconut Orange Peel

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These were my favorite of the group. I loved the bright, fresh orange and tropical coconut flavors mixed together. Just look at that yummy, crunchy coating!

Ingredients: almonds, cane sugar, coconut water, coconut flakes, orange peel, sea salt

Coconut Lavender

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While I am not usually a fan of flower essence in my food, the Coconut Lavender almonds surprised me! I kept going back to the bag for another handful. The flavors are perfectly balanced which is why I think I enjoyed these almonds.

Ingredients: almonds, cane sugar, coconut water, coconut flakes, lavender, sea salt

Dark Cocoa Chili

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The romantic combination of intense, dark cocoa and smoky, slightly spicy chili powder makes these almonds extra special. I think they would be delicious sprinkled over a few scoops of your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients: almonds, cane sugar, dark cocoa powder, sea salt, chili powder

Tempted yet? You should be! I highly suggest you visit the Lush Gourmet Foods website and order some of their peanuts and/or almonds. Aside from the almonds, I have also tried all six varieties of peanuts (Salt & Pepper, Hot Curry, Coffee, Dark Cocoa Chili, Original, and Cinnamon Spice). I’m nuts. You should join me.

 

Review: Tofurky’s *New* Pizza Pockets

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Wait, what’s happening? A pizza-themed post after Vegan Pizza Day? Well, let’s just say that it is dreadfully hot in Portland right now and as a result, pizza stones and 500-degree ovens are not my friends (translation: moody, evil Amy). I didn’t indulge in one of my favorite meals on its special holiday. I think I had a cold salad instead. Ha!

The 95+ degree days are still lingering, yet when Tim and I saw these Tofurky Pizza Pockets at Food Fight! today, we caved in and bought a box. It is rare for us to purchase prepared foods so this was a seriously special treat.

Straight out of the box, these pizza pockets are about the size of a small burrito. You can opt to cook them in a microwave or oven. Since we don’t have a microwave, we made the sacrifice and turned on the oven. Thirty minutes later, we had lunch!

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A fresh green salad + ripe watermelon + Tofurky Pizza Pockets = a speedy, filling lunch (even in the ridiculous heat!)

I really enjoyed these portable pizza pockets. While they were baking, I was instantly reminded of the frozen pizzas my dad would make when I was growing up. I’m pretty sure my love for pizza is genetic. The outer crust is infused with Italian herbs and the inside has sauce, melty cheezy goodness, and Tofurky pepperoni. If you were a fan of those infamous hot pockets back in the day, you will be delighted, because these are a million times better and cruelty-free! Tofurky makes a few other varieties too. Seek them out at your nearest vegan-friendly grocery store and settle down for a tasty, fun meal.

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Take a Hike!

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I feel pretty fortunate to live in close proximity to dozens of snow-capped peaks. Many hikes in Oregon and Washington take you above the tree line and offer majestic views of mountains in all directions. But, you have to hope for clear-ish skies and you have to be willing to climb, climb, climb. It’s all worth it if you pack a protein-rich lunch to enjoy at the top. I like to relax for a bit before the much easier (unless you have wonky knees, like me) descent back to the car.

Last week Tim and I took advantage of a nice day and went on a hike to a place called Table Rock. The last time we hiked this trail, it was foggy and rainy and viewless at the top. This time? Well, let’s just say it was scenic!

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In the photograph above, you can see Mt. Jefferson on the left. We also saw the Three Sisters range, but they are hard to distinguish from the clouds in this photograph.

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Mt. Hood is one of the most recognizable Pacific Northwest mountains. Clouds and mountains are the best of friends in case you didn’t know.

Evidence of Logging

Here you can see evidence of logging, in various stages of growth and recovery. It makes me sad to witness this because it is happening everywhere.

We also saw plenty of wildflowers, heard chirping birds, and stepped over babbling little streams. We went on a Saturday which means more people, but we still had some solitude at the top after a massive group with lunch-snatching doggies left. :)

It’s the season for hiking (in the Northern hemisphere anyways!). Get out and enjoy nature.