May 30, 2012

Avocado "Mayo"

During my down time over the weekend, I logged on to Pinterest to see if I could find anything new and exciting to create by hand or by blender, food processor, etc. I happened upon an avocado mayo and was thrilled at the idea of a condiment that was big on taste and a perfect compliment to a juicy beef, veggie, black bean, salmon, portobello, etc burger. I modified the recipe into a healthier version with limited ingredients.

Adding a little salsa or hot sauce to the avocado mayo, I imagine this would be great on tacos or in any Mexican dish as well...using the avocado mayo like you would use guacamole.

Avocado Mayo

2 ripe avocados, seed and skin removed
Lime juice (1 tsp per avocado)
garlic powder, onion powder, salt, to taste 

Pulse avocado flesh until smooth and creamy in a small food processor or blender. Add 1 tsp of lime juice for each avocado. Pulse again until mixture is light and smooth (it will become more of a whip). Add garlic powder, onion powder and salt to taste. Pulse again until combined. Keep refrigerated.

May 29, 2012

It's Tuesday!

Remember this post? Although my goal to use "techie" gadgets to post on my blog every Tuesday failed, I'm going to attempt to launch this idea again...

The weather in Anchorage yesterday was a huge relief from the overcast clouds and rain received over the good part of last week and through the weekend. In the morning the sun was out and there were just a few clouds in the sky. After coffee and breakfast, Rio and I went for a run outside...

...and boy was it fun.

Rio was exhausted (and you can tell by the amount of slobber on her tongue) but we both enjoyed the sun and fresh air. It was a perfect way to enjoy the morning and begin our day finishing off my Memorial Day Weekend to-do list.


May 28, 2012

Gratitude on Memorial Day

Did you know that Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day? Memorial Day originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union solders of the Civil War. However, by the 20th century, Memorial Day was extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.  

On this Memorial Day, let us remember the brave men and women who have served and are currently serving to protect the people of the United States of America.

Thank you.

May 27, 2012

Farmers Market time!

One of the best things about the beginning of summer is the start of Farmers Market season. Since I was little, I have enjoyed visiting the Farmers Market...first to help my mom pick out the brightest greens and vegetables...and now on my own to stock my fridge and counter with ingredients for fresh salads and dinners for the week.

Anchorage has a few markets around town each week. Two that I routinely visit are the South Anchorage Farmers Market and the Spenard Farmers Market.

Today I visited both. Why not?! It IS a long weekend!!

First up = South Anchorage Farmers Market.

Still early in the season, the variety of vegetables was limited. However, I did pick up some tofu and sprouts from Alaska Sprouts.

I chose the onion and pea shoot varieties.

Two people definitely rode to the Farmers Market in style. Love these...and how about that basket on the front? A perfect place to hold purchases made at the market.

After visiting the South Anchorage Farmers Market...I grabbed some coffee at SteamDot Coffee, a local Anchorage roster. I then went home, had breakfast and picked up Rio before heading to Midtown for the Spenard Farmers Market...

The Spenard Farmers Market was definitely more about local crafts/creations. Similar to the South Anchorage Farmers Market, it was obvious the season is still a bit early for reliable produce.  

Rio enjoyed the car ride though and after walking around a bit and visiting Matt at REI during his break, the two of us headed back home to tackle my to-do list.

May 26, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

And so begins a long weekend...

I think it is pretty incredible how having an extra day in the weekend gets so many people workplace on Friday afternoon was completely empty. Almost everyone had left early, excited for what was to come. Although I stayed until about 5:30PM, I crossed off a lot of tasks on my to-do list, which is always a good feeling.

For most of the country, Memorial Day Weekend means the beginning of Summer. In Alaska, although "Summer" may be beginning, the temperature is still in the low 50s and a sunny sky is unlikely (this is when I look at the mountains and remember how lucky I am to have them so close).

With the prediction of rain all weekend (no camping for me), due to the fact Matt has to work every day of the weekend (oh the joys of working retail), and because Leah is vacationing in the Southwestern United States, I made another to-do list that I am determined to finish...

  • LONG run
  • Visit the Farmers Market...maybe two of them!
  • Clean the inside of my car
  • Organize/clean my closet
I am confident in my "crossing off the list" abilities....the LONG run has already been crossed off the list (8 miles down!)...

...and I have the help of RIO!

May 25, 2012


I was in Fairbanks on Thursday for a business trip. Having flown into town in the morning and leaving the same day, the trip was quick but very productive. However, the sun was out and it felt like summer.

The temperature in Fairbanks was about 70 degrees, which is about 20 degrees warmer than it has been in Anchorage. My previous trips to Fairbanks have occurred in January (2 trips), February (1 trip) and March (1 trip). So, being able to enjoy the warmer spring temperatures (compared to temperatures that ranged from -60F to -10F) was very nice. Interestingly, Fairbanks has the greatest range of temperature from winter to summer in the world...dipping down to -60F in the winter and reaching 100F in the summer...a difference of almost 160 degrees.

In between meetings with Interior Community Health Center and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, we enjoyed lunch at the Pita Place. Only open during the summer, the Pita Place served very authentic falafels and pitas...perhaps the best I have tasted since traveling to the Middle East in 2006. All of the toppings and condiments were prepared with a Middle Eastern touch. I also found out that the pitas are made in an imported Israeli pita oven. Can you get more authentic? In Fairbanks, AK?

I hope you had a great Thursday!!

May 23, 2012

Three morning needs...

What are my three morning needs?

Exercise: - My hardest workout is trying not to look bored while you tell me about your workout

Why an AM workout? I read an article (and saved it in my email) a couple years ago by Greg Landry, MS, who shared his top ten reasons to work out in the morning. A few of my favorite reasons to workout in the morning are listed below...
  1. Over 90% of people who exercise consistently, exercise in the morning. So, if you want to exercise consistently, odds are in your favor if you exercise first thing in the morning.
  2. When you exercise in the morning, you will be energized for the day. Personally, I feel dramatically different on days when I have and have not exercised in the morning.
  3. If you exercise at about the same time every morning, and ideally wake up about the same time on a regular basis, your body's endocrine system and circadian rhythms will adjust. Put yourself in a routine to wake up at about the same time every morning. Give yourself time. Your body will adjust and you will become a consistent morning exerciser.
  4. For many people (ME!!!) exercising first thing in the morning assures that nothing else during the rest of the day will interfere with your workout. 
  5. Lastly, a morning workout will become a part of your life. This time of day will become something good for you - a time of the day you are taking care of your body. I think it is a great time to plan my day, relax and pray.
Coffee: I was not a regular coffee drinker until I moved to Alaska. I transitioned from an occasional latte in a homemade cafe au lait a couple times a week when I first moved to AK...and now, black coffee every. single. morning. YUM!

What is my favorite?

Right now, Matt and I are enjoying the Frontier Blend by Cafe Del Mundo. It is rich, it is dark, and it is so smooth. A great start to morning.


From reading my blog, you know that breakfast is one of my most favorite meals of the day. Simply put, breakfast gives me the energy I need to get through the day. Numerous studies show that eating breakfast is extremely important for your health, mind and spirit.
Need some breakfast ideas?

May 22, 2012

quinoa oat balls

I love having snacks around that I can grab easily...specifically snacks I can nibble on excessively and not worry about being unhealthy. Cut up veggies taste good most of the time, but sometimes I crave something more dense, with more crunch and substance, especially if I am going to work out or go for a hike later in the day.

What criteria did I use for my snack?
  • limited but nutrient dense ingredients
  • no added sugar
  • low prep time
  • low bake time
Please welcome Quinoa Oat Balls...

The greatest things about these balls is that after they are put together and baked, the balls can be eaten as a ball, bar or crumbled up to make a granola.

Quinoa Oat Balls
1.5 C oats
1/3 C uncooked quinoa (I used a multicolored quinoa blend)
2/3 C almonds
1/4 C raisins
1/4 C dried cherries

1-2 TBS soy milk
1 banana (mashed)

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well mixed. 

Slowly add the soy milk, 1 TBS at a time. I only used 1 TBS but depending on the amount of nuts and/or fruit, or if you want to add more oats and less quinoa, more milk may be needed. Other milk products (dairy milk, almond milk, rice milk) would be a fine substitute. Pulse until sticky. 

Add mashed banana. Pulse until evenly distributed. The mixture will become clumpy. 

Dump mixture on a cookie sheet covered with a silpat mat or wax paper. Form mixture into balls (about 30) and bake balls for 12 minutes in a 325 degree oven.

The ingredients used in the balls could probably be varied to what you like. For example, instead of almonds, use walnuts. Or, instead of raisins and/or cherries, use cranberries.

I added two quinoa oat balls to my make at night steel cut oatmeal. The balls added just a touch more of sweetness, while adding crunch and texture to a very nutritious breakfast. YUM!

Eat. Devour. Indulge. Enjoy.


May 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!

On Sunday was my mom's birthday. I really missed not being able to celebrate with her in person, but we enjoyed a great Skype dad even carried around the computer and the two of them showed me the flowers on their front porch and back deck.

My mom is the best...she is always ready to listen and has a great personality. One of my most favorite things to is to wake up early and enjoy a cup of coffee with her.  

She is a wonderful mom...

and surely enjoys being a grandma... 

Happy birthday, Mom!!!

May 20, 2012

Flattop Mountain

The sun was finally shining in Anchorage last week...and on the way to a friend's house to grill, Flattop Mountain caught my eye. 

The most climbed mountain in the state of Alaska, Flattop is a 3,500 foot mountain located in Chugach State Park just east of Anchorage. Although I see Flattop on a daily basis when I drive to and from work, the mountain can really be stunning when the flat peak, still covered by snow, is contrasted by the bright blue sky and budding trees.

I manipulated this photo using Instagram...such a fun app available via the iTunes App Store.


May 03, 2012

Kodiak, Alaska in April

Kodiak is one of my favorite places to visit in Alaska. Every time I have been to Kodiak, I have literally learned and experienced something new, which has brought a real excitement factor to my Kodiak travels.

In April I traveled with two coworkers to Kodiak. Joy works with me at ANTHC and Eliza works for the State of Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. After a full day of site visiting with Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA), Eliza, Joy and I visited the Kodiak Harbor and Kodiak Aquarium. 

The aquarium included fish found in the Kodiak Harbor, including halibut, crabs, trout, sea urchins and star fish.

Eliza, having grown up in the fishing industry in Alaska, had a longtime family friend in Kodiak who is a fisherman. He was getting his boat ready to begin the summer fishing season and was kind enough to give us a tour of the two boats his family owns, as well as a tour of the St. Paul Harbor, Kodiak's small boat harbor.

Having seen many boats from the outside, it was cool to see what a long line fishing boat looks like inside.

Eliza’s friend uses the long line fishing technique to catch halibut and scallops. They have two boats that typically go out for single day catches, and upon returning to the harbor, sell the catch to a local fish processing plant. The boat is cleaned up and prepared for the following day when the same thing happens again.

After briefly learning about fishing in Kodiak, we headed to Shelikof street to check out Pickled Willys, a new business in Kodiak that pickles different types of fish, including salmon, halibut, ling cod and king crab. All of the fish is purchased from fishing boats in Kodiak and the king crab is purchased out of Bristol Bay (there are no king crab in Kodiak). After samples of each, Eliza and I both purchased a jar of the ling cod, salmon and crab.

We then dropped by the Kodiak Island Brewing Company to fill our growlers (Liquid Sunshine for me) and headed for the airport. It was a loaded few days in Kodiak but still a great adventure.

I can’t wait to get back soon!


May 02, 2012

Spring Gardening

I LOVE planting flowers and herbs in the spring. One of my favorite activities to do when I was growing up was going to the nursery with my mom to pick out flowers...and then going home to help my mom plant the flowers. I thought she was so good at deciding what flowers to plant where...and it was so neat to see them bloom and prospo throughout the summer.

Not having an actual garden and only having a small patio to place pots, I still wanted to take advantage of the space we had for flowers and herbs. With all of the sunlight we receive in Anchorage during the summer months, flowers and herbs tend to grow very rapidly. However, with limited space, Matt and I had to be resourceful and decide which herbs we would actually use on a regular basis. We also made sure only a few pots were dedicated for flowers.

I was so ready to transform our dead looking pots...

...and planters that had been sitting outside all winter.

We headed to Bell's Nursery and Gifts to find our herbs and flowers....

...and the task was slightly overwhelming. However, we headed for the annuals and began to think about what flowers were appropriate for a hanging basket...

...and what flowers were more appropriate for the planter. Then, we headed for the greens and herbs...

...and decided on the following:
  • Green lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Mint

We had two boxes full of flowers, greens and herbs by the time we were done shopping for our garden...

...and after picking up some dirt, headed home to replant our pots and planters. I focused on the flowers and Matt planted the greens and herbs.

The deck is now ready for Spring (however, due to the freezing temperatures at night and because the plants have not been "hardened off" yet, the plants are brought in at night and only exposed to outdoor temps in two hour time periods. Over the next week and a half, if temperatures continue to rise, the plants should be ready to be outdoors for a full day.

I'm thrilled with the result and look forward to sharing an update later in the summer.

Cheers to Spring!