Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where can I find some good books? How about Book Publishing Company!

Last month I was sent a complimentary review copy of The Nut Gourmet from Book Publishing CompanyBook Publishing Company "is a community owned, independent press dedicated to publishing books that promote a healthful and sustainable lifestyle."  They "are located on The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee and have been in business since 1974."

In addition, their "vegetarian/vegan cookbooks include ethnic favorites and cover a number of dietary concerns (food sensitivities, diabetes, weight management, etc.)."  Their "Healthy Living imprint offers titles that help people reach optimal health through better nutrition, nontoxic personal and home care, and natural therapies for illnesses."  Their "Native Voices imprint features books on Native American history, spirituality, and culture."

AND Book Publishing Company is a member of The Green Press Initiative... so they are committed to print a growing number of their titles on paper that is postconsumer recycled and processed chlorine free!!!

Sounds like a nice company, doesn't it?!  Well, I must say I am very satisfied with The Nut Gourmet.  I can't get enough of nuts, and this book provides so many different recipes in which I can use nuts of all kinds :-).  I especially love how this book includes so much more than just recipes!  It has nutritional facts for many kinds of nuts and also teaches how to crack, roast, and even sprout nuts.  I've learned so much!  Therefore, I give this book a 10 of 10!  (If I were to make a complaint, I'd ask for more pictures, but that's a minor complaint)
Oh, and I should probably give you a little background about the author, Zel Allen, too.  She is presently spreading the message of a healthy vegan lifestyle by teaching vegetarian cooking classes at libraries, churches, etc.  You can learn more about Zel and her husband on their website here!
Now for the book! Doesn't it look delightful?!

Here's the recipe I'm highlighting for you:

Bean butter?  Yes, bean butter!  No, it doesn't quite taste like nut butter, but I think it's a great low-fat, high-fiber, and somewhat high-protein alternative :-). 

Now, I did make just a few adjustments to the recipe based on the ingredients I had on hand, so here is a link to my own version.  I love how a recipe like this is so versatile!

Now for pics of the process, which was SUPER easy!

So far I've tried it plain and with a banana, but there are so many ways to enjoy this bean butter... such as on a sandwhich, with chips, or even on sweet potatoes (I just thought of that one, but I think it'd be great!).  The butter is slightly sweet and nutty with a hint of the bean flavor.  As long as you're not expecting a rich nut butter taste, you won't be disappointed.  Oh, and I suppose it may help if you are a fan of beans, though the bean flavor certainly isn't overpowering.  In fact, you can't really notice it when you pair it with a banana, since bananas can overpower just about anything :-).

More reviews to come... though my blogging may be a bit sporadic as I am packing and getting reading to move to Illinois early in August since I'll be attending grad school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign!  I can't wait, but then again this also means my summer's almost over :-(.

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend everyone!


Monday, July 26, 2010


RAGBRAI was an AMAZING experience!  Yes, I only rode the first day (68 miles), but it did allow me to get a great feel for what the whole ride would be like.  Over 10,000 riders participate, and the crowds can be crazy.  I thought it was so cool to be on the road with that many bikers though - all of them enjoying themselves as much as me!  Seriously, I'd love to be able to do this again.  I don't think I'd be able to commit to the full week because of work and the time commitment that training would take, but I'd love to do a day again.  In fact, I'd love if I could make it an annual tradition :-). 

Now for some pictures!!  First, here is the food I brought with me for fuel (in addition to a 2 liter Camelbak and a bottle of Propel):

The balls in the left container are inspired by Jessica's Laraballs here.  I call my own mix Ash's Balls O' Energy.  Here is the recipe!  And yep, I ate all of the above on the ride... in addition to some free watermelon and bananas that were absolutely delicious - nothing like fruit to refuel and refresh with!

And before I left my home for Sioux City at the wonderful hour of 5 AM, I had a large bowl of shredded wheat and vanilla soymilk - yum!

My dad joined me on this ride, and we were biking by 6 AM.  I took the following picture around 7 AM.  There aren't many riders yet because we were near the beginning of the crowds... not everyone is an early riser ;-).

This next picture is from the small town of Kingsley, IA:

Next is outside Kingsley, IA - gotta love the beautiful scenery of Western Iowa:

Next stop was Washta, IA:

What a lovely entrance to the town:

Great scenery between Washta and Quimby:

Above is Lake Elmo, which looked more like a marsh to me.

Then Quimby (where the free watermelon was!):

Looking down a fairly large hill between Quimby and Storm Lake (Western IA is NOT flat!):

A cute sign my dad and I saw before Storm Lake - you'll get it if you've ever driven towards Wall Drug in South Dakota.  It says, "Wall Drug: 438 miles behind you."  And yes, this is the first picture of myself on my blog... so I blocked out my face to retain a little privacy ;-).

And FINALLY Storm Lake!  I really enjoyed the ride, but I was still glad to arrive at the final destination :-).

Look at all those tents!

Whew, what a day!  My mom picked Dad and I up from Storm Lake, and she brought me great tuna salad and some cold propel.  At home I enjoyed lots of Kashi cereal and soymilk... an amazing combo!  

My kitten Elphaba was very happy when I finished off the box:

I hope you enjoyed this recap as much as me.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I tried to keep this relatively short ;-).


Saturday, July 24, 2010

RAGBRAI: Here I come!

This is just a quick, short post to let you all know that I am going to be riding the first day of RAGBRAI tomorrow!  I'll be getting up around 4:30 AM and hope to be in Sioux City, IA and on the road before 6 AM (I want to start early since it's a 68 mile ride!).  I am just SO EXCITED for this day to be here.  I've been looking forward to it all summer :-).

I'm hoping to be able to take some cool pictures to share with you all afterwards.  The weather should be just about perfect - sunny with a high of 85.  As long as my tire doesn't blow out and some other unforseeable outcome doesn't occur, I should be fine.

Oh, and I've been doing my share of carbo-loading too... but we won't go into that right now ;-).

Okay, I really should get to sleep now.  I hope you all have a great Sunday!

And just a quick question: Have any of you been training for a race or event lately?  If so, feel free to share below :-).


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CSN Stores Review: yogurt maker and bowl

Remember waayyy back when I said I was going to do a review with CSN Stores (here)?  Now is that time :-).  I ended up purchasing a Tribest Yolife Yogurt Maker and a Mikasa Antique White 9.4" Cereal Bowl with my $40 gift certificate.

Here's the yogurt maker in all its glory:

9 of 10.  It is so satisfying to make your own yogurt - and less plastic waste too!  It is time consuming though, primarily because you have to heat your milk (stirring regularly) to a specific temperature before adding active yogurt or a starter culture and then placing it in jars in the yogurt maker.  Once it's in the yogurt maker though, you just let it sit for 8-12 hrs.  That's the easy part ;-).  Afterwards you have nice homemade yogurt to do what you want with - and I used mine to make oatgurt with oats and frozen berries - yum!  I love how this particular yogurt maker also came with a larger lid so I make even bigger batches of yogurt if I want to share it with others or use larger amounts in recipes.  One possible negative I've noticed is that the yogurt I've made so far has had almost a gritty texture in places.  I wonder if this is because I don't mix the active yogurt and milk well enough?  I should probably look into that... though I don't notice it at all in my oatgurt, just when I eat it plain. 

Now for the cute (I want to say little, but it's actually quite large) bowl I got:

10 of 10.  I really can't think of anything bad about this bowl.  It's simple, elegant, and a great size for salads, chili, oats, etc.  It's also microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher safe - yay!

I definitely recommend checking out CSN Stores.  They have great customer service, a wide range of products, good prices, and even free shipping on some items :-).

WARNING: this next picture contains BROCCOLI WORMS... skip over it if you are weak of stomach!  :-)

Broccoli fresh from an organic garden is awesome - just be sure you very thoroughly rinse and clean it or you may find these:

Ewwww!  Yes, that was my first reaction when I reached the bottom of this tubberware container of steamed broccoli.  My second reaction was, "Have I already eaten some of these?!"  I guess I'll never know... but I will be more observant when I eat fresh broccoli from now on since I know to look out for broccoli worms! 

Happy Hump Day!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Harbinger Training Ball Winner and Minneapolis-Saint Paul Pictures

The suspense is over... the Harbinger Training Ball winner is number 7 according to  So congratulations to Sam!!  Please leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address so I can contact you and get your info. to send to Harbinger soon!

Now that I'm back from an amazing weekend trip to the Twin Cities in Minnesota to visit a very good friend of mine, I just have to share some pictures and a quick recap!  It was fabulous as far as cities go (though traffic was a little crazy for a small town gal like me!).  Sooo many trees and beautifully landscaped yards from what I saw though.  Tons of parks, lakes, and trails too!  My friend and I went to the sculpture garden and conservatory first where I took these pictures:

Ahhh, how cute!  I love baby ducklings :-).  I also love flowers, and I got many more pictures of flowers at the Como Zoo and Conservatory, which I'll share next:

I hope this isn't picture overload ;-).  We also went to the Art Institute, but I didn't take any pictures there - I just thoroughly enjoyed walking around.  And don't worry, my next post will have some food pictures (and a review!).

Hope you all had a weekend just as fun as mine :-).


Friday, July 16, 2010

EasyLunchbox System Giveaway Winner!!

Before I announce the winner, I want to share another giveaway with you all!  GoLite, a wonderful company with great values (like a sincere dedication to sustainability), is hosting a FABULOUS giveaway that is taking place ALL summer long:

For 93 days, GoLite is giving away their gear. You enter once here, and then you are signed up for the entire contest!  You can win anything from a $700 tent to a $300 jacket to running gear and hydration systems.  How cool is that?!

Also, I was recently given the great opportunity to review some gear from GoLite - so you can look forward to my reviews :-).

Ok, ok... now for the EasyLunchbox System winner! tells me the winner is number... 9, which means that Mo' Betta is the lucky winner!

Now I'm off on a brief vacation for the weekend, so I'll have very limited computer access.  I'll be back with the Harbinger Training Ball winner on Monday (enter the giveaway here!) and more fun posts and pics :-).
Have a wonderful weekend you all!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chocolate reviews!

Hello all!  Don't forget to enter my giveaways for an EasyLunchbox System and an training ball if you haven't already :-).

Now for some chocolate reviews!  First is a Coconut Coco Cream Protein Bar that you can purchase from Smallworld Beauty.  The lovely Ghada generously sent me a complimentary bar to try out and review for you all.  She has a great blog that you can check out here!

The Coconut Coco Cream bar has some great nutrition facts: 18 g. of protein, gluten free, AND no sugar, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, or preservatives! 

8.5 of 10.  The bar had a very nice soft and chewy coconuty inside with a thin chocolate coating.  It was quite satisfying thanks to the protein (which did not interfere with the flavor I might add!).   My only complaint is that the chocolate coating did taste a little artificial and wasn't quite as decadent as the chocolate I normally consume... of course, considering that this is supposed to be a protein bar and not really a chocolate bar, I was still impressed by the overall quality and taste, and I think you would be too!

Now for another unique chocolate bar manufactured by Attune... a PROBIOTIC chocolate bar :-).  These bars actually have 5 times the live active cultures of yogurt!  And they are only 80-90 calories with 3-8 g. of sugar.  They're also an excellent source of calcium! 

Here are the complimentary bars that Attune sent me for review:

(I love the cute logo on the chocolate!)

Now for the reviews:

Mint Chocolate: 8.5 of 10.  Very minty!  I also really enjoyed the crisps :-).  The only drawback is that the chocolate itself was just average.  But for only 90 calories, what do you expect?

Chocolate Crisp: 9.5 of 10.  I loved the crunch of the crisps in this bar, and for some reason I liked the chocolate flavor much more too - very creamy and smooth (minus the crisps of course!).

Dark Chocolate: 8 of 10.  It was smooth and creamy with a little 'bite' to it, but wasn't as spectacular as other dark chocolates I've tried.  It still makes a great low-cal treat with probiotics ;-).

Well, my internet has already closed out on me three times while writing this post, so I'd better stop for now.  I'll be back later this week!