January 29, 2012

Wrangell and Juneau, Alaska

My first work related travel of 2012 consisted of a trip to Southeast Alaska to make two site visits. The first site visit was to Alaska Island Community Services in Wrangell, AK.

I've been to Wrangell three times before; but, I was looking forward to visiting new staff at AICS in "warmer" than Anchorage temperatures. Although the staff was new and were great to work with, the temperatures were just slightly warmer than Anchorage. While it was around -15 in Anchorage, temps in Wrangell were in the low single digits...an extremely rare occurrence in Wrangell. Go figure.

I stayed at the wonderful Rooney's Roost Bed & Breakfast, my favorite place to stay in Wrangell. Although very cold and windy, the skies were crystal clear the entire time we were in Wrangell, a huge plus for a community that can be immersed in fog. I'd rather have the cold and wind.

(The Diamond C Cafe is where we ate breakfast every morning. The coolest thing about this place? They used an iPad to take orders and as the cash register...who would have thought innovative use of technology is currently happening in Wrangell?) 

After spending a couple days in Wrangell, we packed our bags and headed to Juneau for a site visit at Bartlett Hospital. Juneau was also very cold and windy. We stayed at the Silverbow Inn in downtown Juneau. A beautifully restored boutique bed and breakfast, the best part about staying at the Silverbow Inn is the coupon that allows guests to order an unlimited free breakfast every morning at the Silverbow Bakery and Restaurant. Free breakfast?! Yes...and I took advantage of the barista behind the counter that kept asking "Is that all you want?"

Juneau was also very beautiful for most the time we were in town. Although I have been to Juneau numerous times, I was fortunate to travel with a coworker who is from Juneau. She showed us around Juneau and Douglas and took us to restaurants where I had never before eaten...a definite plus.

(I ordered the venison burger from the Sandpiper Cafe. Yum!)

(Mendenhall Glacier is in the background of this picture, which was taken 
from Douglas Island, across Fritz Cove from Juneau)

(This is the "end of the road" on Douglas Island. There are not many places outside Alaska where you literally come to the End.)

The last two days, winds picked up to around 75-80 mph causing all flights in and out of Juneau to be canceled. Our scheduled flight leaving Juneau for Anchorage on Friday night was the first flight to leave Juneau in two days. Whew!

Southeast Alaska is one of my favorite places in the world. I love the rich Tlingit and Haida culture mixed with deep Russian influences. With the Tongass National Forest spread throughout the region and surrounding the Inside Passage, nowhere else in the world offers a landscape with mountains, seawater and rainforest.

After a week of traveling Southeast Alaska, I was happy to get on a plane that was not delayed/canceled and head back to Anchorage.


January 15, 2012

Green Monster craze

If you follow any type of food blog, you are probably familiar with the green smoothie...aka...green monster craze. Angela from ohsheglows.com first introduced me to Green Monsters on her blog almost a year ago. Packed with tons of greens and protein, these smoothies are a perfect start to the day or afternoon snack.

I didn't hop on the green monster bandwagon until I received a Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender for Christmas. I asked for the Cuisinart Smart Stick mostly so I could start making Green Monsters easily...and so I could make a quick breakfast alternative to my regular oatmeal.

Why a green monster?

  • Easy, quick, delicious 
  • Provide increased energy
  • Incorporate servings of vegetables and fruits
  • Versatile
The basis of a green monster is the greens. What kind of greens you use is up to you but typically spinach and/or kale is used. I like both of these greens; however, it doesn't matter if you do not like these greens because you will not taste them after the smoothie is completed. TRUST ME.

Because I usually work out before breakfast, I wanted to make sure the smoothie was somewhat hearty and that it would keep me full until a mid-morning snack or lunch. I knew this would be possible with increased protein and healthy carbs. A number of mix-in options ran through my head:
  • oatmeal
  • chia or flax seeds
  • banana
  • frozen fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc)
  • milk
  • nut butter (peanut, almond)
  • coconut butter
  • protein powder
  • cocoa powder (I haven't tried this and don't like chocolate...but I've read that it tastes really good in a green monster)

What did I come up with?

Basic Green (Monster) Smoothie
3 c spinach
1 c soy milk
1 frozen banana (peel and cut into chunks before freezing)
1 TBS chia seeds
ice (if desired)

Add the ingredients in the following order: spinach, chia seeds, banana, milk. I think it works best to have the lighter ingredients on the bottom, weighed down by the heavier ingredients. This prevents the lighter ingredients from flying around in the blender bowl. Blend the ingredients until mixed completely. I didn't use ice but if you prefer a much colder drink, you might want to add ice after the ingredients are mixed well. Once liquified pour the smoothie into a glass and enjoy.

I gulped my smoothie down in about two minutes and immediately began thinking of what to add to my next green smoothie. Since my first experiment, I've added many of the ingredients listed above to my "Basic Green Monster" recipe. 

Another favorite...

Cookies and Cream Green Monster
3 c spinach
1 1/4 c soy milk
1 frozen banana (peel and cut into chunks before freezing)
1 TBS flax seeds
1 scoop cookies and cream protein powder

See instructions above. Add protein powder before the banana and milk. Instead of using chia seeds, I used flax seeds. The flavor of the smoothie tasted very much like a cookies and cream shake and the flax seeds provided a creamier consistency. If a less creamy consistency is desired, add more milk or add ice.

I dare you to join the Green Monster craze...