California Vacation Eats

Home sweet home.  Sure NYC has some of the best restaurants around but home is where the endless supplies of groceries and snacks are at.  I tend to skimp on my groceries here in the city, so arriving home to all my favorites (skim milk, celery, granola) was simply a treat.

My vacation last week consisted of a short time at home, a trip to the mountains and the Tuolumne River, and finished with a quick visit at the beach.  I didn’t manage to snag all my delectable eats and treats – mostly because I was trying to stay off my phone (harder than I thought!) and also because my family liked to tease me every time I whipped out the camera or my handy-dandy iphone.  Yeah, they are cool like that. 😉

So here’s a look at some of what we indulged in while soaking up the California sun.

IMG_5483 Lemonade lunch out with grandma, mom, and Megnan.  Lemonade is one of my favorite spots in Pasadena and I’ll make any excuse to take a trip there.    The selection my mom and I picked out was not at all photogenic.  So we shall settle on my grandma’s delicious monthly special – a mix of romaine, chicken, onions, pecans,a nd cheese. Mmmmmmm

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I selected a guava-Arnold Palmer out of their 8 or so choices and we all split a mega lemon macaroon and black-bottom brownie.

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Meghan and I took a picnic dinner to our Friday night Dierks Bentley concert.  While the Greek Theatre has some food booths, we felt a little more comfortable with our Trader Joe’s selection.  Our wallets didn’t mind saving either. 🙂 As you can see, there is a NYC black & white cookie in the shot, which was in fact transported from the famous Ess-A Bagel.

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Saturday’s hike was followed with a Juice-It-Up acai bowl with the girls.  Smoothie perfection on a warm day.

IMG_5500 Iced coffee on the road to Mammoth Mountain.  I have no clue if McDonald’s knows what a iced coffee is because this was definitely sugar milk but it was pretty tasty.

IMG_5588Breakfast on the deck with Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and Meghan’s zucchini bread.  I keep forgetting how delicious and naturally sweet all of California’s produce is!  That and the fact that “seasonal” is not an issue in California. Oh the lessons I learn from living back east.

IMG_5587 Whenever I say that I’m going to “quit sugar”, don’t believe me.  I couldn’t help but throw this in the cart when my mom was checking out of VONS.  Luckily it had a 50% off tag because the original price was around $10 and I don’t think she would have let that fly.

IMG_5609Just a typical family hike – up a trail that seems to have disappeared in a flood and then getting caught in a freak rainstorm on the way down.  If I didn’t know better I would have thought that we were in New York with all the humidity and rain.

Packed in my clutch Organic Valley pack was a PB sandwich and carrot/celery medley. I also couldn’t resist the Cliff ZBar that had been packed for “emergency”.  Usually I end up eating whatever I packed, hungry or not but thankfully the 8 mile hike had left me hungry.

IMG_5610Looney Bean is one of our favorite coffee stops in town and if you have a real hankering for something sweet, I recommend the Looney Latte (iced or hot!) – latte with whipped cream and chocolate covered espresso beans.  It’s practically a milkshake but let’s just say “morning coffee”

IMG_5532There are some rafting eats missing here but that’s not because they weren’t delicious.  We were just so ravenous that I forgot to take a picture.  Also combined with the fact that we were with 20 or so other people, most of whom were high school boy scouts and probably wouldn’t understand the necessity desire to photograph every morsel of food. Goodness, we food enthusiasts can get such a bad rep.

Breakfasts: (1 – purchased pre-launch –> ; 2 – at camp site –> vegetable egg scramble, cheese-infused potatoes, fruit salad, bacon, and sausage)

Lunches: solid spread for sandwiches –> pastrami, turkey, egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, peanut butter, hummus, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, four different breads, tortilla chips with salsa/cream cheese dip

Dinner: Steak/chicken, fajita vegetables, Mexican rice, black beans, grilled tortillas, w/ additional fixin’s

But anyways, the guides made sure we weren’t starving and in fact, we probably all gained a few pounds from the spread.  The entire group was able to polish most of the food off and I’m not sure if that was because we were hungry or we felt bad that whatever didn’t get eaten was thrown away.

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Finished the trip off with coffee and scones with my grandpa and then a beach “burger bash” with my dad’s side of the family.  I swear there is a burger underneath all that fresh California fruit. 🙂 Just alongside a tasty vegetable orzo salad.  I’ll have to test out the recipe, an Ina Garten classic I believe, and share it before the end of summer.

With that my friends, wraps up my California summer eats.  I’ll be sharing a few more west coast adventures in the days (and maybe weeks) to come.  Until then, it’s back to the big city!  For more WIAW fun, hop over to Peas and Crayons. Aloha!

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Mrs. Field Meets the Valley

Cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Nature Valley bars.  What do all these glorious things have in common?  My quasi-experimented recipe – Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies.  Sure I love my regular chocolate chippers but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve graduated to the extra crunch with chocolate chip oatmeal.  Then, with my granola-parfait obsession, I figured why not break the cookie barriers?  I mean, I’ve already conquered the Junk in Da Trunk, so granola should be a seemingly easy addition.  I didn’t want to go into as much of analysis of the chocolate chip cookie as this writer did and pulled a typical Kaitlin – throw all the ingredients together and hope it works out.

The inspiration started awhile back when my mom sent me a torn out recipe of such cookies.  Then let’s add in the fact that I came home from the 2014 Blend Retreat with oodles of trail mix and granola swag, including Nature Valley Granola. SCORE!  I’ve been a loyal Nature Valley customer for over 8 years.

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The sweet and crunchy taste reminds me of high school days and pre-cross country snacks and helped aid many tedious college group projects.  The really helped me get through the group dynamics more than the projects but that’s a story for another day.

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Chocolate Chip-Granola Cookies
~36 cookies

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter (or coconut oil) softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cup chocolate (preferably dark chocolate chips/chunks)
1 cup granola
1/2 cup rolled oats

Directions

1. Stir together dry ingredients – flour, granola, salt, and baking soda and set aside. (Preheat oven to 350F while mixing the dough)

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2. In a different bowl mix the butter for about 30 seconds.

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IMG_5070Of course it’s normal to watch TV while baking.   Just don’t get distracted trying to translate the soccer matches from Spanish into English while you are mixing ingredients. 

3. Add in sugar and continue to beat. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.

IMG_50724. Slowly add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.

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5. Lastly, add in the chocolate chips.

IMG_50776. Divide up the dough using tablespoons or your own hands.  Separate on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for about 9-10 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies start to brown.

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7. Cool on a cookie sheet or serve up warm with a beverage of your choice.  I’m partial to a tall glass of milk – regular or almond 🙂
*Cookies can covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze up to three months

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I’m almost positive this came from a Rachel Ray recipe, but am not 100% sure as it wasn’t on the tear-out recipe that my mom sent.  Oops.

*Although we were gifted bags of Nature Valley granola, this post reflects my own thoughts on all products 

Summer Camp for Bloggers

Yes this Blend Retreat recap is probably a week late but better late than never. Plus I had to break it up from the other lovely blogger’s recaps.  Wouldn’t want to step on everyone’s toes now or overwhelm the readers.  That’s right, always thinking about y’all.

Isn’t it great when you enter an event not knowing a soul and leaving with some honest to goodness best friends?  I went into the weekend with open expectations, just hoping to meet some great people and be outdoors.  What I received was so much more.  I’m not just talking about the endless supply of goodies from Arctic Zero to Quest Bars, but possibly lasting friendships, raw and real conversations, and so much more.

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Where would I even begin on this trip?  Well, let’s just say that I’m still riding the high over a week later.  Sure it’s back to work and the grind of city life but reliving those memories of the outdoors and blogger bliss helps keep me sane.  I’m not so impressed by the 12 hours it took to arrive home on Sunday and lovely humid and rainy weather I was greeted with in the city but that’s another battle.  I have a feeling this summer will be the true test of my strength on the east coast.

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If you didn’t catch on, I’m recapping my trip to Park City Utah for the Blend 2014 Retreat.  Now many people are unaware of the term “blend” just as I was unaware of the term “hangry” for a while.  No fear – it’s another way to say “Blogger Friends” and I personally think it has a better appeal than “hangry”.

But anyways, this retreat was a way for bloggers – most of which fall into the healthy living category – to meet and connect.  Some of us follow one another’s blogs and have connected online a number of times, but have never met in person.  A few of my coworkers think this is odd but in today’s reality of online dating and technology in general, it couldn’t seem more normal.

The adventure began Friday where I successfully took public transportation to JFK and arrived way too early for my flight.  Three coffees and about 6 hours later, I was in Park City.  Those who had actually planned ahead had arrived on time and were off on a group run led by the ever so sweet Janae (Hungry Runner Girl).  I arrived just in time to indulge in a snack break hosted by Arctic Zero.  After all, those travel days are quite exhausting, don’t you agree?

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There I had the chance to meet my roommate Megan (who was uhMAZING) and sip on a smoothie made with almond milk, Arctic Zero and some frozen fruit.  I did feel a bit hipster with my mason-jar like mug, but that’s as hipster as I’ll ever be.  We scooped up a few extra mugs and were on our way.

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The swag bags for this trip were beyond belief fantastic.  But really.  The sheer amount and quality of goods practically paid for the trip and will definitely help my future grocery bills.  I can’t even begin to list out all the goodies we received but just know, I’ll be pumping out some  posts with my favorites.

One of my favorite sponsors was Quest Nutrition. The representatives at the retreat were just a blast to hang out with and get to know.  I found it even more fun to talk with them because they lived near my hometown!  I love those small world connections 🙂

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The whole trip really did seem like a summer camp.  We had a schedule with boot camp on Saturday and Sunday mornings, both of which were oodles of fun.  I love working out in the morning and well just love working out in general.  We had sets of push-ups and burpees and even some sprints. What’s funny is I completely forgot about the altitude and was wondering why it was such a struggle.  Oh, working out in the mountains is not the same as sea-level-ish Manhattan…blonde moment.

Day #1 – Led by ONNIT – Total Human Optimization

Day #2 – Led by GPP Fitness (definitely my favorite of the two)

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Such an attractive picture right?  Hopefully you can’t spot me

Following our workouts, we were treated to buffet breakfasts – day #1 sponsored by Quest and day #2 sponsored by Yoplait.

IMG_4793Picture with my new blend Ashley ❤ Also, there’s something homey about drinking coffee out of a mug.  

I HIGHLY recommend the coconut yogurt by Yoplait.  It may have a bit more sugar than a plain Greek variety but I’ve never tasted a flavor more pure and even enjoy the flakes of coconut stirred in the middle.

I do however have a love/hate relationship with buffets.  This is because while there are a ton of different options to choose from, I feel obligated to take a bit of it all. This usually leaves me a bit full and sleepy but no fear because a hike was near!

IMG_4758Pep talk (nutrition-talk really) by Organic Valley and a quick pic with celebrity trainer Joel Harper

That’s right, on Saturday we took the gondola up the mountain and proceeded to hike around some of the ski trails.  While it wasn’t like the trails I was used to at Mammoth Lakes, it sure was nice to be out in the fresh air.  My roommate and I attempted the long route back home and may or may not have just created our own trail down the hill.  Definitely wouldn’t have passed the scout test there.

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What was truly nice about this retreat is that it enabled the bloggers to hang out, explore the outdoors, and get to know each other.  We didn’t have any seminars and there wasn’t a strict schedule.  We simply were allowed to explore, chat, and get to know one another as well as the beautiful area around us.

IMG_4871_ Fotor_CollageA stop into town with my gals is of course a must.  As is a picture with Mr. Moose.  What can I say, I make friends with all the animals, real or not-so-real.

It was also refreshing to talk to everyone about food, fitness, body image and more.  Really it seemed as though we had been best friends forever.  In fact, I had more heart-to-hearts with these gals than I did with some of my college friends.  I guess it comes with the territory of blogging – you are practically putting your life out there for the world to see and read.

But wait…there’s MORE

IMG_4798We ended the weekend with a giveaway, one prize for every blogger.  I swear it was like Christmas morning or winning a mini-lottery.  This girl came home with a “six month supply” of Organic Valley coupons.  Who knows if this will really last me six months but I’m game to try.  It’s safe to say I won’t have to make too many grocery stops in the future.  That or I’ll be able to bake some more goodies for my co-workers.  Either way, it’s an epic success.

Some of my new blends below 🙂

Candice Bement – http://hungrymotherrunner.com

Heather Blackmon – http://betterwithveggies.com

Danica Buss – http://itsprogression.com

Lindsay Cotter – http://cottercrunch.com

Ashley Cubit-Palms – http://milesonoats.com

Amanda Dewitt – http://semihealthyblog.com

Nicole Handler – http://fitfulfocus.com

Janae Jacobs – http://hungryrunnergirl.com

Molly Keck – http://thislifeissparkling.com

Samantha Kolpin – http://betterwithsprinklesblog.com

Julie Luong – http://juliegoeshealthy.com

Mollie Lyon – http://molliessprinklesoflife.com

Madelyn Moon – http://moonfitness.net

Megan Olson – http://theskinny-life.com

Heather Powers – http://kissmybroccoliblog.com

Bethany Qiang – http://thesmallvictories.com

Stephanie Reiter – http://wholesomebydesign.com

Emily Roark – http://perfectionisnthappy.com

Laura Skladzinski – http://50by25.com

Brooke Stluka – http://wreckingroutine.com

Gina Topley – http://healthloveandchocolate.com

Brittany Trentham – http://delightsanddelectables.com

Kait Welch – http://chickadeesays.com

Katie Wheeler – http://peaceloveandoats.com

Lindsay Wright – http://lindsayslist.com

Until next time my blends…