Scones!


Scones.  Yum.  My friend, Marta, and I LOVE Panera scones, especially the ones with that powdered sugar glaze.  They are all sorts of delicious.  Unfortunately they are not at all paleo.  Consequently, I was forced to make paleo scones for work today.

I tried this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Scones.  My workmates thought it turned out tasty, and I agree in general.  I think I overbaked them, however.  Since they are made with almond flour, they are dark to start with, so it’s very difficult to tell when they are “golden brown.”  Usually when I make paleo desserts I end up under baking them, so I erred the other way and cooked these too long.  BUT they turned out good enough that I’ve eaten 4 of them since last night.  Granted, they are pretty small if you make 16 slices, but still. :)  I would definitely make these again, but next time I might add some raisins. I would also like to experiment with making homemade whipped cream.  I think that would be fabulous on top of these scones.

But, as with all paleo desserts, I can’t make them often. I end up eating too much of them.  And today was a day for overeating – lots of scones, Himalayan dark chocolate salted almonds, and Reese’s Pumpkins.  Oh boy.

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness, Paleo | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Serendipitous Recipe Failure – Take 2


I wrote this post last night (or at least a version of this post), but the internet, WordPress, or my laptop decided to mess with me, and the post disappeared into the ether.  It did not put me in an amicable state for sleeping.  I’m trying to not let things get to me as much (“Let It Go, Heather,” is my internal mantra), but I have to say, that annoyed the hell out of me. It’s so much easier to be serene when you don’t have PMS.

ANYWAY, I had two recipe reviews that I wanted to share with you.

I wanted to try my hand at these Homemade Fruit Snacks.  Who doesn’t need a little grass-fed gelatin in their diet??  I knew I was off to a rough start when I hit Step 6, and had no paste form.  It was pure liquid, not paste at all. I dumped the liquid, assuming I had mis-measured and started anew, only to achieve the same results.  I went ahead and added the remaining ingredients and put the batch in the fridge over night, hoping for some refrigerator magic to happen.

I was sorely disappointed.  It was all still just pure liquid.  No gellin’ whatsoever going on.  Instead of tossing all these expensive ingredients (grass-fed gelatin, frozen berries, raw honey), I poured the contents of the dish into two 12 oz Ball jars and put them in the fridge.  Last night when I got home from yoga, I had a delicious sorbet waiting for me!  I scooched a home-made coozie on the jar so my digits wouldn’t freeze and went at it with a fork, slicing off chunks of sweet berry mixture.  It is pretty damn tasty, and Tim agrees.  I want to get some of these cute, small Ball jars.  I think they would be perfect for little desserts like this and also for freezing pesto.  I have a HUGE basil plant that I need to strip for pesto.

The other recipe I made was this Cauliflower Rice recipe.  I’ve written about this recipe before. It’s super delicious and easy as is, but this time I got a little experimental.  I added some onions, green onion, garlic, and tomatoes.  I cooked the batch in our Nesco, so that I wouldn’t have to turn on the oven (it’s super hot here in Iowa right now).  I had to stir it frequently so that the rice on the edges wouldn’t burn.  It turned out super tasty!!  It tasted like Spanish rice. I love cauliflower. It’s so versatile.  Those cruciferous veggies are the bomb.

And that’s my update. I have a few new recipes on the agenda to try this week, so I’ll have another update soon.

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness, Paleo, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Salmon Burgers and ICE CREAM!!


I’ve tried two new recipes of note this week.

Berry Pancake – This is a recipe from Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals.  It has intrigued me ever since I bought the cookbook 2 years ago, but I just now took the plunge and made it for breakfast on Sunday.  Basically you  heat up berries with copious amounts of butter.  Then you whip up some egg whites and fold in the whisked egg yolks.  You pour this eggy batter on top of the hot berries and bake the whole mess.  When it’s done, you flip the pan upside down, with a plate over it (no small feat when you are cooking with a 40 ton cast iron pan), and voila!  Berry Pancake!  I have to say, this is not my favorite recipe.  I think I should have used only non-seedy berries.  The egg crust/souffle turned out really tasty however.  I think I’m going to try this recipe again, but make it more savory instead of sweet – saute some broccoli with garlic and add the egg crust to that.

Asian Salmon Burger with Homemade Pickled Ginger – If you like salmon and/or ginger AT ALL, make this recipe post haste.  It is deeeelicious.  I could easily eat all 6 of these burgers by myself; they are THAT tasty.  I did have to make a few substitutions/alterations, however.  First of all, I ran out of honey, so I used maple syrup in the pickled ginger.  I also only had about 1/2 a cup of rice vinegar, so I topped off the cup with white wine vinegar.  Also, fresh salmon is prohibitively expensive (and last time we bought fresh salmon at HyVee it smelled reallly fishy), so we used the frozen keta fillets from Target (on sale for $9.99 right now).  I ran short on shitake mushrooms, so I rounded out the dozen with some baby bellas.  Oh, and lastly, I have no coconut aminos (I can’t find them anywhere in the QC!), so I used tamari instead.

We paired the burgers with a green salad and some leftover homemade mayo I made for chipotle coleslaw a few days ago.  Wow – everything turned out super good.  We LOVED the pickled ginger.  I can’t believe it’s that easy to make.

So after that super healthy, nutrient-dense, primal meal, we are going out for…….

ICE CREAM!!!

I can’t help it.  My hormones are demanding some creamy, sweet Whiteys, and I’m powerless to deny them.

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness, Paleo | Tagged , | Leave a comment

It is done.


The 21-Day Challenge officially ended yesterday.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I rocked the challenge up until the point I didn’t.  :)  However, as far as I am concerned, the challenge got me to where I wanted to go, namely, I’m back down to a weight where my clothes fit me comfortably, and my faith in the value of eating clean, whole, non-dairy, non-gluten foods has been restored.  Tracking my intake for 3 weeks helped me realize how easy it is to eat too many carbs if you allow yourself to go off-plan even just once/day.  To keep myself feeling good, I’m going to have to restrict the splurges to once or twice a week instead of once or twice a day.  Tracking my intake has also made me more aware of eating for nutrition instead of convenience or tastiness.  Overall, I consider the challenge a win!  I think my coworkers would consider it a win too.  They have both lost several pounds and are jazzed that they can eat without being bloated after every single meal.

I listened to Chris Kresser’s podcast recently, and he mentioned that he is working on a 14-day reset plan.  I’m anxious to check that out.  I think next time I’m ready for a clean-up, I will do that one.  Fourteen days of perfection sounds quite a bit easier than 21!  Plus I think it’s good to mix things up a bit to keep your body surprised.

My coworker had a celebratory supper last night, to commemorate the end of the challenge.  She made 2 different kinds of brisket, stuffed mushrooms, and a  cucumber, onion, and tomato salad.  Her boyfriend made some rum punch that knocked me out after 2 small glasses.  My contribution to the party (besides my hilarious wit and insightful observations) were these two dishes:

Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies – These are SUPER tasty.  However.  Well, they turned out bright green for some reason.  Yeah.  Maybe it’s the sweet potatoes??  For the mix-ins I used 1 cup of shredded coconut, 1/2 cup of walnuts and 1/2 cup raisins.  I didn’t have any pumpkin pie spice, so I mixed 1.5 t of cinnamon, .5 t of nutmeg, .25 t of cloves, and .5 t of ginger.  They definitely LOOK a little weird, but they taste really good.  Oh!  And I didn’t have any almond butter, so I used sunbutter.  You want to be careful to not overeat these, however.  I put the recipe in PaleoTrack, and one cookie (I got 18 out of my batch) is 194 calories, with 12 grams of carbs.

Creamy Cucumber Dill Salad – This recipe was very simple, and it turned out very light and tasty.  Tim suggested adding tomatoes, which I think is a great idea.

During the challenge I have been avoiding regular coffee.  There are a  few reasons for this.  Tim has stopped drinking coffee because the caffeine freaks him out, so I was the only one drinking coffee in the morning.  The coffee accouterments take up A LOT of room on the counter, which seems ridiculous for one person who drinks coffee.  Also, I’m more sensitive to caffeine than I used to be, and I wasn’t sure how the caffeine was affecting my adrenals.  So, I decided to take a break from it. I found out that while I love green tea, I really miss coffee.  When we stayed with our relatives over Christmas, they had this Aeropress, which they LOVE.  It’s very compact, easy-to-use, and it makes excellent coffee.  So I ordered one from Amazon and picked up a bag of decaf beans from our favorite coffee place, Red Band.

I have to say, I LOVE this little thing.  Tim and I have been drinking all sort of decaf and half-caf coffee all weekend.  Today I made a decaf and mixed it with about 1/4 cup of hot coconut milk to make a paleo latte.  It was incredibly delicious.

And….that’s about all my news.  I have to go blow-dry my hair while it’s the perfect level of crispiness (fellow curly-haired folk will understand what I mean).  Adios!

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gross Looking Food that is Great for You (aka Indian Delhi Saag)


That title just kind of gave away my whole post.

I figured I should try some new recipes this week since for the past 2 weeks I’ve just been recycling tried and true favorites (these were the recipes I used to the build the 21-Day Challenge meal plans for my friends).

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I started using PaleoTrack to track my food during the challenge.  The creator of the site wrote a post about some common diet deficiencies he’s identified using the data logged by his users.  He goes on the list foods you can/should eat to remedy the deficiencies.  My personal experience mirrors what he is seeing on a macro level.  My vitamin levels are usually great, but I really struggle to get the RDA of minerals.  This has been a very eye-opening experience for me.  You just assume that if you eat a lot of whole foods, fruits, veggies, meat, etc., you will be getting pretty much everything you need.  Nooooope.  You have to be methodical.  So I made on the recipes he suggested, Indian Delhi Saag.

I have to say, it turned out looking absolutely disgusting.  For proof look at my Instagram feed to the right.  But!  BUT!  It tasted really good!  Tim was very trepidatious about it.  He thought it smelled like a tobacco shop.  Granted, he is not a huge cumin fan, and this has 2 tsp of cumin seed and 1 tsp of ground cumin.  It’s very cuminy. It also has a lot of turmeric.  My white stove is now plastered with streaks of neon yellow.  I will be keeping this recipe in the roster fo sho.  Although, I’m going to make Tim smell my breath tomorrow morning and see if I smell super funky from all the spices.  This thing has a sh!t-ton of spices.  I’m now plumb out of coriander and turmeric.

So now we’re all loaded up on vitamins and minerals – thank you Marc of PaleoTrack!

I do not know what you *should* pair with Indian Delhi Saag, so I complicated my evening by trying another brand new recipe – this one for Poached Salmon with Green Herb Sauce.  We accidentally bought skinless frozen salmon at Target, and when Tim grilled it, it was very dry.  I though poaching it might yield better results.  It was very meh, however.  I’m not linking to the recipe because I found it in some magazine.  You’re not missing anything, believe me.  The salmon still came out dry.  I kind of doused it with the Saag, and that livened it up.

My coworker who is doing the 21-Day Challenge with me is having a primal party at her house on Saturday.  I’m still finalizing what I’m going to make – maybe a cucumber salad, kale chips, and sweet potato muffins. If you have any bonkers good paleo recipes, let me know!

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness, Paleo, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

21 Day Challenge Update with Recipe Reviews


So, hmm, The Challenge. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was derailed by a rough day at work earlier last week.  It was the kind of day that could only be fixed by happy hour drinks with the hubby.  Unfortunately, that drink pretty much broke the seal.  I didn’t fall completely off the strict primal wagon, but I may have had Cheetos and Idaho nachos and maybe another drink or two.  *Sigh*  But, today is a new day, and I’m a newly resolved Heather. I only have 5 days left, and I know I can do that.

Looking on the bright side, eating junk after eating very clean for 10 days helped me identify a few things.  1.  Alcohol, even just 1 or 2 drinks, often gives me a headache and makes me sleepy and  2.  White potatoes, while delicious, puff me up something fierce.  I was down 3 lbs, but now I’m back up 3 lbs.  Damn you, white potatoes!!! 3.  I have a problem with self-control. I can’t give in even a little or I’m a goner.

Over the past week I’ve tried a few new recipes.

Zucchini Fritters:  I subbed nutritional yeast for the parmesan.  These were tasty (even heated up the next day in the broiler), but I don’t think they were good enough for the amount of work.

Spicy Nacho Kale Chips:  We’ve been eating kale chips almost every other night, and this recipe is partially why.  These are super good, yet so easy.

Cauliflower Rice:  This is another recipe that is super good, yet super easy. Unlike this cauliflower recipe: Spicy Ginger-Lime Cauliflower Rice.  This recipe involves a lot of chopping, a lot of sauteeing in stages, and lots and lots of dirty dishes. You should see my kitchen right now.  I made it with Asian Pork Meatballs, and it was a perfect pairing.  The flavor is unusual and good, but not worth the effort, in my opinion.

And now you’re up-to-date on my food week.  As far as exercise goes, I did a sprint workout on Saturday, with 6 all-out 15 second sprints.  On Sunday I did 30 minutes of yoga, and then Tim and I tried stand-up paddle boarding for the first time.  We were on the river for an hour.  It looks so easy, but my quads are SO sore today!!

And that’s it for now!  Hope you are having a great day!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Day 8 and Other Miscellaney


It’s Day 8 of the challenge, and I’m happy to say I’m down 2 pounds.  Who knows if it’s the diet or if it’s hormones.  Hormones are such a wild card.  Either way, I’m taking it!

It’s been a positive experience so far.  Using PaleoTrack has helped me become more aware of eating for nutrition instead of soley based on taste/convenience.  I’ve realized that unless I eat A LOT of greens (especially kale), it’s really hard to meet the RDA for minerals.  And unless I eat salmon regularly, my omega 6 to omega 3 ratios are waaay out of wack.  And, holy cow!  I can’t believe how many carbs are in grapes!!

Why the random grape comment, you ask?  Let me tell you.  We ran the Bix 7 (a local, hilly, 7-mile road race with about 18,000 participants) on Saturday.  This is the 3rd year we’ve done this quintessential Quad Cities event.  In the past 2 years, we’ve celebrated our efforts with beers at Great River Brewery and then pizza at Harris.  No such celebration this year!! Instead, after the race, I made my way through the throngs of people scarfing down the free Little Debbies, Twinkies, Cheetos, granola bars, and Michelob Ultra to the one tent waaaaay in the back that was handing out grapes.  I met up with the Timmy Tee there, who finished about 15 minutes before me, and had a couple of handfuls of grapes – about 1.5 cups, I think.  Guess how many carbs that is.  Guess!  You’ll never guess – it’s 41!!  When you are trying to stay below 100 for a whole day, that is troublesome!!  Oh, well, at least I did a 7 mile, SUPER HOT, super hilly, super crowded road race to compensate for the stupid sugary grapes.

After the race, we collected our phones from the car and then went back into the fray.  Since beer and pizza is off limits until August 9th, I filled my craving for something special by going to Red Band Coffee and getting a huge decaf (no heavy cream this time:().  While there we ran into a couple of friends and proceeded to chat for the next 90 minutes while Tim and our friend had a couple of beers at Great River.  In retrospect, perhaps standing for 90 minutes after running 7 miles was not a wise choice.

Oh man, I was soooo sore after that stupid run!  It took me 2 minutes longer this year than last year.  What is eerie is that Tim dropped 2 minutes from his time.  At the triathlon, I gained 8 minutes, and he lost 8 minutes.  Yin and yang, mange, yin and yang.  Anyway, all day long our knees were killing us – super achey.  I finally remembered to use the foam roller on my IT bands, and BAM, I was back in business.  They need to have stack and stacks of foam rollers at the end of these races.

Today to limber up our limbs we took what was supposed to be an easy bike ride.  However, we encountered a wiley wind that made our trip home quite the workout.  Even though it was more exercise than I wanted or needed, I’m really glad we went out. The weather today is super odd – it feels like a fall day by the ocean instead of an Iowan mid-summer Sunday.  I love it.  We have all the windows open and occasionally gusts are lifting up every sheet of paper in the house while also cooling down our hot kitchen.

Yes, it’s July, and I’ve been baking!  I have been craving a paleo treat since I’m not really supposed to have one.  :)  Plus, I found this recipe on the CivilizedCaveman site:  Pumpkin Cinnamon Muffins with Pumpkin Frosting.  Also, we are doing a wellness challenge at work, and I wanted to bring in a healthy-ish treat to encourage my team.  Well, I messed up the recipe from the get-go. I put the coconut milk in the fridge overnight as instructed, but instead of just scooping out the solidified milk, I mixed up the whole can and used some of that for the frosting.  There is no way that concoction is ever going to be frosting consistency.  But I tried a little bit of it out of curiosity.  OMG.  It tastes just like eggnog.  It’s deeeeelicious!!  Tim agrees and says it would probably be bonkers good with some rum.  Now I just need to figure out how to keep it good until I can have rum again…

And the muffins?  Well, I do believe I have underbaked them.  Tim and I just split one (watching those carbs, you know), and it is waaaay too mushy.  I’ll need to put them back in the oven and firm them up a bit.  Right now the oven is occupied with a chicken that promises (by the delightful smells wafting out of the oven) to be ultra tasty, so we’ll have to wait a bit.  Hopefully they will turn out OK.  Trying new recipes can be so frustrating!!  But how else can you find new, good stuff to make?

Oh, speaking of screwing stuff up – you remember the water kefir grains that I thought I killed?  They are alive and well!!  I took the advice of the super helpful staff at Cultures for Health and put them in spring water mixed with sucanat sugar.  The first batch was very lackluster, but they are slowing regaining their vigor.  I have two batches of the second ferment going right now.  It’s turning out fizzy and not sweet at all.  We love the flavor.  So much cheaper than buying kombucha!!  It’s helping to ease my transition into alcohol -ree evenings.  It is so boring to come home and just drink water all night!!  Drinking a cup of fizzy water kefir is an event!  Weeeeoooo!

And that’s my update for the week.  Some successes.  Some failures. Yin and yang, mange, yin and yang.

 

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness, Paleo, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 5 of 21 Day Challenge Reboot


As I mentioned, two of my coworkers and I are doing the 21 Day Challenge together.  My friend want to lose some weight and get healthier, and I want to reboot myself.  My 80/20 has been slip, slip, slipping, and I’ve added about 3 lbs as a result.  I want to get back to my fighting weight so my clothes fit better.

So far the challenge is going pretty well!  My friends have lost 8 lbs and 5 lbs, respectively. I’ve lost ZERO pounds.  I’m super happy for my friends – they say they have been sleeping better, and they enjoy not being miserable and bloated after every meal.  I think that feeling so much better after just a few days of eating differently has really opened their eyes.  They are full of questions and good meal ideas and helpful websites!

One of the sites they found is Paleotrack.  It’s kind of like MyFitnessPal, but it’s tailored more for the paleo client.  For example, it doesn’t encourage you to eat more carbs and less fat. It also doesn’t tell me I will weigh 2 more pounds in a week if I continue to eat this way. :P  The site also provides the vitamin/mineral/macro nutrient ratios for your foods. It’s very helpful information.  My friends especially like the way the site rates how closely your eating habits fall within the primal/paleo spectrum.  If you do well, you get “Strict Primal!” written in green on your journal page.  It also tells you if you are sugar free/grain free/legume free.  The colors are incentivizing.  And yes, I do believe that’s a word.  We all want to be GREEN!

The site is so cool that I emailed the site creator, who quickly responded with a thanks for using his site and some encouragement for our primal quest.  We also briefly discussed how quickly the 80/20 rule can get you into trouble.  Hearing that from another primal enthusiast has really made me consider how I will eat, once this challenge is over.  I think I’ll need to restrict my “cheats” to just one evening a week; otherwise, I just start to fall of the cliff.

I still feel a little off the cliff, actually, even though I’ve been eating pretty clean since Sunday.  I’ve avoided grains and cheese overall, but it’s been an odd week in that I’ve done some work traveling, and we’ve had company, two things that mean I’ve eaten out every day this week for at least one meal.  While I try to get quality food (salads, burger w/ no bun, etc.), you never know what chemicals are put into/onto the food, or what fillers are added.  I’m wondering if that’s why I haven’t lost any poundage yet.  Or, as Tim says, since I have such a small percentage to use, and I already ate PRETTY well, the weight won’t come off that fast for me.

I’ll keep at it for a few more weeks, until the challenge is over.  I’ll see how I feel, not just how much weight I lose, and move forward with a game plan at that point.

That’s my update so far.  Wish us all luck!  I’m doing the Bix 7 (a local 7 mile hilly run) on Saturday, and I don’t get any beer afterwards.  WAAAAAAHHHHH!  Oh, and after this run, I’m going to focus more on walking/weights/sprints and see if not doing long runs at a high heart rates helps get me back in my old shape.

Good luck with your ventures this week!

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness, Paleo | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch Up Weekend and Primal Challenge Reboot


The Timimimy Tee had to work all this weekend driving bus for the John Deere Classic.  That meant that I had the opportunity to catch up on some long outstanding chores.  Basically we haven’t been home for a full weekend since before the triathlon, so things were starting to pile up.  So what did I do, you ask?  Well, here, let me tell you: I went to the Farmer’s Market, Aldis, HyVee, took several long walks, vacuumed and dusted the whole upstairs, vacuumed most of the basement and moved Lucent’s litter box so that we don’t constantly have to walk over litter particles to get to the washer and dryer and workout area, attempted to rehab my water kefir grains by putting them in a sucanat/spring water solution, sprouted and roasted almonds, cut up all the veggies from the Farmer’s Market, weeded our front garden bed, did 3 weeks of meal planning for the primal challenge (more to come on that below), returned a long overdue email, finished a humongous crocheted blanket for a friend, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand…RELAXED.  On Sunday afternoon I sat outside and read for probably 3 hours. I got a little bit of a sunburn, but it was so beautiful out there that I couldn’t bring myself to go inside.

OK.  Now for some details.  First of all, I’m kind of excited about Aldis!  I stopped on a whim, hoping they would have spring water for the kefir and for the sauerkraut Tim is going to make.  They only had individually wrapped bottled water (which seems odd for a discount store!), but I found some other great deals.  Avocados were only 79 cents (1/2 the HyVee price), Rainier cherries were only 2.99.  They had nitrate-free bacon for 3.89 and mineral water for 1.49.  I’m so jazzed!!

And on the kefir grains.  So, yeah, I though for sure I had killed them. I got a couple of good, fizzy batches out of them, and then they just stopped working.  They didn’t smell like kefir (didn’t smell like anything, in point of fact).  I emailed Cultures for Health, and they sent me back some great tips.  They recommended using sucanat (unrefined cane sugar that still has minerals left in it) and all spring water.  Previously I was usually Domino sugar and just boiling our Brita-filtered water to remove the chlorine.  Evidently the rest of the chemicals in tap water are harmful to the grains as well.  I had also ran out of mineral drops, so I had stopped using those too.  The person who emailed me said you CAN resurrect the grains, so I’m giving it the old college try.

And, finally, the Primal Challenge.  A couple of workmates and I are going to embark on the 21 Day Total Body Transformation on July 20th.  My friends want to lose some weight, and I want to lose about 3 pounds and do a reset to get closer to 90/10 instead of 70/30 .  I spent an hour Saturday culling through my recipes.  I put together 3 weeks of meal plans (containing mostly just general ideas for breakfast and lunch, and then 4 distinct recipes w/ sides for supper), along with copies of the associated recipes.  I also pulled out additional recipes for them to use, if they don’t like my suggestions.  I reordered the 21 Day Total Body Transformation.  I lent it to my brother probably 2 years ago and haven’t seen it since.  I’m so glad I bought it again. It’s a very concise, helpful guide to the primal lifestyle and contains reminders that I really needed to read again.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this turns out!!

That’s the weekend, now its back to work and back to training for the Bix 7, which is NEXT WEEKEND.  ACCK!!

 

Posted in Cooking/Recipes, Health & Fitness, Paleo | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Minneapolis Mosey


Teeeem and I spent last Thursday to Saturday in Minneapolis.  We put the bikes on the rack and took off at 6AM on Thursday morning.  After dealing with some funky directions around the 35/94 interchange, we made it to within site of our hotel only to be stymied in our arrival by multiple light rail trains.  The streetlight gods wanted us to spend our entire vacation waiting for a green arrow onto SE Washington Ave.  We foiled their plans, however, and eventually made it to the hotel.  We unloaded, pulled up some bike maps on Google Maps, and headed out for a late lunch at the The Lowbrow.  This should have been a fairly straightforward ride, but we did not account for the difficulties in following directions such as “Turn left.  Turn left” at unspecified streets/pathways.  We spent about 15 hungry, frustrated minutes doing circles around the bridge we knew we needed to go over before we found the little secret bike on ramp.

Once over the bridge we were more or less able to find our way to the restaurant.  Beer never tasted so good.  :)  We had a super excellent lunch at The Lowbrow and then hopped on the bikes again and headed to Lake Calhoun.  We biked around a couple of the lakes, stopping at The Tin Fish for a walleye taco and some water.  We strolled around the Uptown area, buying a pair of socks for me (sockless feet in Sperrys on a humid Mineapolis day is not a good idea).  We ducked into a Surf shop and found a bike map, which helped us immensely for the rest of the weekend.

Minneapolis is both a GREAT place to bike and a super FRUSTRATING place to bike.  There are a ton of bike lanes everywhere, and several cross-town bike-only trails.  However, Tim and I kept running into construction.  A few times I was concerned that we were going to inadvertently bike onto the interstate!  We also had difficulties finding the entry points to some of the bike trails.  We biked to a Twins game on Saturday, using city streets.  After looking at the map, we noticed that there is a bike trail that goes right to the stadium; however, when we tried to find it after the game, it was impossible!  We asked some fellow cyclists, a transit worker, and a transit cop, and all they could say was, “Well, it’s around here somewhere!”  We finally headed out, only to see the trail bracketed by a chain link fence to our right.  We kept taking right turns, attempting to get on the trail, only to encounter the fence.  After traveling 6 blocks or so, we finally found an entry point, thanks to a helpful cyclist.  Very frustrating!

But despite the challenges of biking in a unfamiliar city, we had a great time.  The game was super fun, the weather was beautiful, and Tim and I enjoyed spending time together.

Usually we travel to Minneapolis via Cedar Falls/Mason City.  However, this time we took 52 home and stopped in Decorah, IA.  We had a pint at Toppling Goliath brewery, some delicious BBQ, and then enjoyed the beautiful drive home through the bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi.

In summary, if you want to take a little weekend trip to Minneapolis, take your bikes (EVERYONE bikes there), find a bike map ASAP, visit the lakes, eat the The Lowbrow and go home through Decorah.  Oh and see the outdoor sculpture gardens at The Walker Art Museum.  We didn’t make it there this trip, but that garden is a must see!

Posted in Beer, Health & Fitness, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment