fitness · holiday fitness · holidays

Five things Catherine is doing differently this summer

2021 has been a very unusual year, and brought us a very unusual summer. Vaccination for many of us has made possible more close encounters with those we love, like, and hardly know. But it’s certainly not business as usual– that’s for sure.

However, looking back to mid-May, and looking forward to the end of August, I can’t say I’m feeling disappointed with how this summer has unfolded and will proceed. Here are a few ways I’m spending my summer that are a departure from my usual gadding about– conferencing, visiting family and trying to arrange a far-away vacation.

No air travel: all my visiting and vacationing and exploring is happening by car this summer. I’m super lucky that I was able to finally give my 13-year-old manual transmission Toyota Matrix to my niece Gracie and buy a 2021 automatic Honda Civic Hatchback. Two bikes plus gear will still fit in the back with the seats down, but the interior is much more comfortable and gadgety. I love it.

A new car means I’ve happily undertaken the long drive (1000 miles/1600 km) to South Carolina to visit family, and I’ve stayed longer with them. Driving also means I take more breaks, generally in the form of walking in some green area en route, and also using hotel pools (now that they’ve reopened– yay vaccination!). And yes, driving means I can take my bike plus whatever other gear I want with me. I love love love not having to pack light or worry about carryon restrictions. Finally, driving has meant carpooling with friends and family, too– we’re all more slowed down and a teensy bit more flexible about schedules. Huzzah to that!

More walking with friends and family and their dogs: even after getting vaccinated (did I say yay vaccination? Yay again!), almost everyone I know is still in the habit of passing time together on foot, tooling around the neighborhood, to a local place for something to eat or drink, doing errands, or just to enjoy the warm weather. It’s been such fun walking with friends and family, as well as friends’ and family dogs. Yes, I’m talking about you, Baxter! And you, Dixie! And Kita! And Wylie! And Mopsy! And other canines not mentioned here. The thing is, I’ve got the time. Imagine that.

Upping my swimming game: this is a project still in process, but I’ve gone swimming much more this year than in decades. Fresh water, ocean, warm water, cold water– I’m dipping in when I can. Friends are a huge help, as I tag along behind them, taking advantage of their slipstream of purpose and intention. Yes, I’m talking about you, Norah! And others, too. Again, it feels to me like it takes more time and effort to go to a lake or beach to swim, but oh, the benefits and the joys! I’ve got plans to swim in two different states (Massachusetts and New Hampshire) next week.

Vacationing regionally with friends: In years past, I would try to do a longer-distance vacation, sometimes combined with a conference. This year I had planned to go to Utah with a friend and her family to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. But as time grew nearer, I found that I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t psyched about getting on a plane, going to what are apparently super-crowded parks during record heat in the west while COVID cases are on the rise. Hard to argue with that, right?

Instead, I’ve gone to Cape Elizabeth, Maine for a long weekend with friends, am heading to Brattleboro Vermont to see a friend, visiting friends in their new apartment in NYC, and going on a meditation retreat with friends in Rhinebeck, NY. All of these trips are short, an easy drive away, and involve fun times with good friends I didn’t get to see in person during the past year. Yay for being with those we love again!

Rethinking time: I’m not even sure what I mean here. But it’s true that since March 2020, I’ve had time to think about what’s important to me. Like many of you, that means friends, family, projects, pets, creativity, helping others, movement, and home. Cultivating and maintaining connections to those things takes time. And it turns out, we’ve got time. Who knew? More on this as it becomes clearer, but for now, I’m so enjoying just spending and passing the time of the summer, doing basic and satisfying activities.

  • Will I get on a plane again? Yes.
  • Will I take a far-away vacation again? Yes.
  • Will I go to an in-person conference again? Yes.
  • Will I forget these lessons I’ve learned about the importance of spending time, lots of time, on what I care about? I hope not. This is why I’m writing it down here and now.

What about you, dear readers? What are you doing differently this summer? How are the pace and scope of your activities different? Or are they? I’d love to hear what you’re up to.

camping · canoe · fitness · holiday fitness · holidays

How long is the ideal vacation? Or, Sam heads into the woods again

I shared this to my Facebook page the other day, mostly because I noticed that my upcoming canoe camping trip is the exact length of the ideal vacation!

I was amused at the heated debate that ensued among friends. You never know what’s going to bring out competing views and strong opinions!

There were the stereotypical American friends who claimed never to have taken a vacation that long. There were the Europeans who spoke up in favour of their two months off.

To be clear, I do take a month’s vacation each year. Eight days isn’t my only vacation. But I like to take time off throughout the year rather than in one big chunk.

For me, the ideal length of any one chunk of vacation really varies. If I am flying somewhere, especially somewhere with a time difference, I like to allow some time as part of the trip to recover when I get there and when I get home so it’s usually two weeks all told but not all of that is the vacation itself. I schedule time to decompress, do laundry, and get caught up on sleep when I get back. Getting sensible in my middle age!

My biking trips south are usually a week off work but bookended by weekends for travel.

My best bang for buck vacation time wise are my canoe camping trips. Even my four day back country canoe camping trips feel like real vacation. There are no phones, no email , lots of natural beauty, and lots of movement. I sleep very well! I come back rested and sometimes feel like I’ve been off for weeks.

This is my longest back country canoe camping trip yet. Sarah is carefully planning all the things so that we have food but not too much food and we’re being very weight conscious because of portages. A couple of years ago we invested in ultralight weight camping gear so we could keep doing this even with my knees in the state they’re in.

I’ll report back on how eight days feels.

Here’s our report on the 2020 six day trip.

Sam paddling on a blue lake with clouds reflecting on the water

What your ideal length vacation? Also have you ever done a long back country trip? What did you eat? What are your favourite dehydrated meals?

cycling · fitness · holidays

Going with the flow, from bike packing to airbnb-ing on the Simcoe Loop Trail, sort of

The plan: a 3 day bike-packing trip on the Simcoe County Loop trail, staying in provincial parks.

“The Simcoe County Loop Trail is a 160-kilometer loop that travels through nine municipalities, reaches three major bodies of water, including Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe, and Lake Couchiching. And, it is primarily on off-road, multi-use rail-trails!”

There are lots of videos out there of fast looking young men on gravel bikes doing it in a day. Ignore those videos. We did. We planned a three day version with time to stop along the way.

I blogged about our plans here.

But those plans were derailed a little bit when provincial parks were still subject to covid restrictions and our reservations were cancelled. I cried. I sulked for a day. And then I made other plans. My word of the year FLOW is serving me well.

What happened instead: We did three days, mostly sticking to the loop but with some deviations due to the location of our accommodations. We still brought the Bob trailer for all of our other stuff.

Day 1: Parked the car in Barrie, bought replacement frame pump that we forgot (thanks Trek Cycles), rode into Orillia on a stunning, shaded rail trail. Stopped to pick up burgers and beverages in town and then made it to our airbnb trailer. Total distance, 41 km.

Where we stayed in Orillia:

Lots to love about the trailer. Air conditioning! A shower! The owners lived in it while they were building their house and now they rent it as an airbnb. We were also impressed with how close to the Trans Canada Trail it was, just under 2 km.

Day 2:

On day 2 we had lunch at Em’s Cafe, at the 20 km mark. along with lots of cyclists.

Cheese and avocado and rockets. Also iced coffee.

30 km later we rolled into Midland. Dinner was provided by friends Bill and Sarah who’ve just opened their own business.

May be an image of tree, outdoors and text that says 'CHEF BILL PRESENTS DRUNKEN JAMS, JELLIES & MARMALADES'

But after dinner we biked what may have been the hardest 25 km we’ve ever ridden. And we’ve done a lot of tough riding together. Newfoundland! The ride out of town was fine. But once we hit the country roads we encountered hills that we feel Google really ought to have warned us about. I’m not a light rider, Sarah was towing the trailer, and we weren’t on our speedy lightweight road bikes. It was a slog. We were very happy to arrive at our airbnb bunkie and discover that we could use the pool. Phew!

Total day’s riding: About 75 km

Day 3: After a breakfast of coffee and BBQ’ed crumpets we set off, nervous about hills and heat. We took it easy, stopping lots along the way for water, ice cream, butter tarts and visits with friendly dogs. I’ve got to say that riding on a heat alert day is something I usually associate with late July or August, not the first weekend in June. Maybe I acclimatize to it by then but this was just hot and humid and insufficient shade. I read this–Things all cyclists think on very hot rides— aloud to Sarah on the way home and we agree with most of them.

Total mileage day 3: 40 km

Some observations:

  • Wow. So many bugs–all different kinds. I took at least a dozen caterpillars out of my hair that were hanging from shrubs that we rode under. But also all the usual variety of flying things. The worst for riding? Clouds of midges.
  • We also saw lots of critters–a snake! a beaver! a fox! frogs! So many frogs. Also, so many birds! Lots of ‘turtle crossing’ warning signs but no actual turtles. Also, we warned about a coyote on the path but didn’t see one.
  • The upside of going with the flow was getting to do the trip but it involved more time off the trail on hilly, no-shade country roads than I would have liked.
  • We missed the Tiny Trail on our route and we’re definitely going back at some point during the summer to ride it.
  • I deliberately decided to go casual, bike dresses and my usual sunglasses, spd sandals instead of bike shoes. This way I’d feel better going 15-20 km/hr rather than 25-30, I reasoned. Nevermind all of that. Gravel and trails are hard in their own way and I should have stuck with my more technical cycling gear. It’s designed the way it is for a reason. It works.
  • I’ve never ridden this bike this far before and now I am starting to have dangerous new bike thoughts. I’m browsing lists of best gravel bikes for bike-packing.
  • There’s nothing like exhausting yourself on the bike to get a good night’s sleep. Night 1 was 9 hours and 45 minutes and night 2 was 9 hours and 55 minutes. Yawn!
  • There were a range of surfaces in the trails. Some paved, some chip, some gravel but the hardest trail we rode on was sand. That was a challenge.

Anyway, will definitely do more of this kind of travel. It feels like a real adventure even though it’s close to home and you don’t have to be gone that long to feel like it’s a holiday. Maybe next time we’ll even get to camp!

fitness · holidays

Easter feminist finery: these shoes were made for spring(ing)

It’s springtime, when a woman’s fancy turns to…. shoes?

Our bloggers have been full of new-shoe-talk lately. Christine bought a new pair of hiking boots, letting herself experience “doing well”, instead of “doing fine” (from the ankles down). And my friend Pam guest-blogged about her new shoes, which were really, truly made for walking. Yay!

Sometimes, however, we want to spruce ourselves up or spice things up a bit. We here at Fit is a Feminist Issue love kicking our heels up, and many of us have a variety of shoe styles to aid in that activity.

Also, today is Easter Sunday. For those of you who observe this holiday or grew up participating in some of the traditions of Easter, new shoes are often involved (hats, too, but that’s another post). My favorite fancy shoes from childhood were a pair of lemon-yellow patent leather flats with mother-of-pearl buckles on the toes. Sadly, I cannot find a trace of them anywhere on the internet, nor do I have any pictures of us (the shoes and I) from that period. After some extensive searching, the closest I could come up with was this shoe:

medium-yellow patent-leather flats with yellow buckles on the toes. Mine were lighter and springier-looking.
medium-yellow patent-leather flats with yellow buckles on the toes. Mine were lighter and springier-looking. And don’t forget the mother-of-pearl buckles!

All that searching for my elusive childhood shoe was not for naught. I found all sorts of lovely yellow patent-leather lovelies for you to enjoy this fine morning:

If your taste runs to multiple contrasting colors or textures, try these on for size:

Some of us just aren’t flats people. Maybe we want a loafer, or a shoe with more substantial support. Fear not, folks, I found some styles just for you– in yellow:

There’s one more shoe I have to show you all, which is the one I bought today. It’s called lemon sorbet, but my friends Martin and Andrew think it’s more pistachio. We shall see when they arrive, but either way, I’m delighted.

A pair of lemon-sorbet but maybe with a little pistachio green mixed in Kate Spade patent leather loafers.
A pair of lemon-sorbet but maybe with a little pistachio green mixed in Kate Spade patent leather loafers.

Yes, we all need and want hiking shoes, running shoes, climbing shoes, lifting shoes, water shoes, wrestling shoes, court shoes, dancing shoes, etc., for all our specialized movement needs. Today, as Easter arrives and spring is either here or on its way, maybe your thoughts will turn to a new or new-to-you pair of pretty colored shoes.

What shoes say spring to you? Let me know.

fitness · holidays

In search of love? some places to find it

Happy Valentine’s Day, my dear readers! We really appreciate all of you and are so happy to have this community for sharing, crowing, commiserating, kvetching and collaborating on ways to make the world better, one ride/walk/swim/paddle/dead lift/asana at a time.

Although 2021 is showing (sort of) an upswing compared to its ignominious cousin, 2020, I don’t think many of us are feeling like love is in the air. Nonetheless, it’s out there. Here are some ways I’ve found love lately. If you’re feeling game, give some of them a try.

ONE: give and receive stuff

It’s such a nice feeling to give things to people. And, I’ve rediscovered, to receive them. Here are a couple of handy items people have given me recently:

A used but functional computer monitor with large bottle of keratin-treatment shampoo in front.

TWO: breathing in and out, for a while, slowly

I’m reading this book called Breath: the New Science of a Lost Art. I’m not sure what to think yet about it– it mixes scientific journalism with what strikes me as cultish devotion to fringe fads. But, I’m trying some of the breathing exercises, and it’s very interesting. Just adding a few into my day makes it seem like the world is a kinder place. That’s not bad, and it’s also free.

THREE: do something funny, or find the funny in what you’re doing

Hardly anything feels as good as laughing. And absolutely nothing feels as good as laughing with another person. Unless it’s sharing a laugh over something completely unexpected. This happened to me last week, while I was on the phone with a staff person at my university. It’s one of those “you had to be there” stories, but at the end of the phone call, we were both chuckling and completely at peace with the world. I recommend this.

FOUR: move with friends, virtually or in person

This one is a no-brainer, but it merits mention. I’ve been walking with my friend Norah, and riding the trainer over the phone with my friend Pata. Norah and I also do zoom yin yoga together, and I walk or do other things with friends as schedules permit. What’s that saying? A workout shared is a workout halved? Okay, maybe they don’t say that, but they should.

FIVE: discover the pleasure of some sensory newness– taste is mine

Last week made a new salad, with new salad dressing (not the same old ones I’ve been making forever). OMG– it tasted awesome! Just eating something that’s different tasting from what we’ve been eating can be such a pleasure for our senses.

Salad with roasted cauliflower with turmeric and coriander, halloumi cheese, raisins (I used dried cranberries), avocado, and an orange-juice/honey vinaigrette. What’s not to love? The picture is from the NY Times, not my house, BTW.

SIX: create, or witness/appreciate creation

I’m taking a personal essay writing class, which is exactly what I need to be doing right now. More on that another time.

If you’re in the mood to witness utter creativity, here’s one that leaves me almost gasping– choreographer and genius Elizabeth Streb, whose modern dance company learned to fly for this film. Check out the trailer:

So, readers: where are you finding love these days? I’d love to hear your stories, as always.

Sending you love from our little corner, Fit is a Feminist Issue!

holidays · motivation · Sat with Nat

Reflecting on vulnerability, resilience, and limits

Recommended Soundtrack: Free Your Mind by En Vogue

I don’t remember exactly when I realized I was at higher risk of COVID 19 complications than others my age. Sleep apnea, asthma, high blood pressure, and weight are all factors in folks outcomes. As a result I got quite risk averse in the summer and as it turned to fall the second wave started. I didn’t ride my bike outside. When restrictions loosened in my community I kept my own restrictions in place.

This awareness of my own vulnerability and that of people I know & love really impacted me. It shook free the last bits of invulnerability I had left.

That vulnerability feels at odd with how incredibly resilient you and I have been. If you told me last March I would work from home for a year and do it well I would have laughed. Not possible! Nope! Me? Arguably the most social person on the planet, working AT HOME ALONE? Unfathomable, yet that’s exactly what I’m doing.

We’ve experienced loss of loved ones, friends, and anticipate more loss. Economic impacts, the loss of social rituals, group activities…

And yet, there are so many things we’ve learned this year and changed. From hand washing and social distancing to the benefits/limits of technology to connect us.

I learned I can stick to an exercise routine and dial in my nutrition. Working at home and not going out with friends brought those two components into sharp focus.

I’ve learned I can walk more, stretch more, sleep better, and be more present in my life. That’s mighty powerful stuff.

The upheaval of the year and my responses to it have made me realize something profound about self imposed limits, especially around fitness.

By reflecting on all I learned and what I’ve changed, I realized it’s time to let those limits go. It’s humbling and scary to realize there are a great many things I can do when I need to.

Michel in the foreground and Natalie in the background, arms up in a celebratory pose at the end of a 5 km Christmas Day walk. It’s a snowstorm and Natalie is knee deep in snow.

So while I’m cleaning up from the holidays I’m packing up old ideas of constraints and limits. Yes. There’s risks and vulnerability and things I need to do to be safer during a global pandemic. There’s also a whole lot of potential to do radically different things. New scripts. New connections. New ways of moving through the world. Most importantly, new priorities.

I don’t know how this ruminating will impact how &. when I move my body but I’ll be sure to share where I’m at in January.

Head to toe shot of Natalie in a snow covered field. Her parka is open so she can show off her super cute orange knit sweater, the hem of a new merino wool camisole and new grey mukluks.

For now I’m feeling hopeful and confident in facing the coming weeks. After all, looking back over the year, I dealt with a lot and am the better for it.

covid19 · holidays · mindfulness

We Wish You a Meh Christmas

The holidays are a bummer this year, and I’m ok with that.  I’m ok with it being a bummer; I’m ok with being bummed out.  I appreciate that my husband and I have enough privilege that our discomfort this year is about disappointments, not serious suffering.  We are not food or housing insecure like far too many people; we aren’t yet mourning the loss of anyone close to us due to the pandemic. In that context, being bummed out is actually a pretty good place to be.

Buddhism teaches that expectation is the root of all suffering, and while I’m not a Buddhist, I see wisdom in this perspective, and I’m working on letting go of my expectations.  Expectation management looks like telling Mom a few weeks before I was on winter break that I won’t be seeing her during my vacation.  It looks like shipping gifts to friends with notes saying, “I miss you” rather than “I can’t wait to get together.”  It looks like planning a tasty but modest meal for celebrating the holidays with my husband, alone in our house.  We’re keeping low expectations to avoid regretting that it isn’t more.

That’s not to say that there aren’t real consequences to not getting together this year.  I have family in poor health, family I never see except at the holidays and may not see for another year, and family with problematic lives I’d love to see face to face to KNOW they are actually ok.  I am sad and concerned to miss this yearly check-in and opportunity for connection.  But we agree that the risks outweigh the benefits, and I will not be seeing any of them in person until it is safe to do so.

I’m doing what I can to celebrate the little joys–the smells of fresh-baked, spiced lebkuchen cookies and boiling candied orange rinds, the glimmer of Christmas lights in puddles as I walk through the neighborhood, a quiet evening at home with my fireplace, my cats, and a puzzle.  It’s a kind of mindfulness that I can get behind, being present and not wishing, hoping, yearning for more.

My goal isn’t to convince myself it’s all exactly as I would wish it to be; the lack of validation that can coincide with the forced seeking of silver-linings doesn’t make me feel better.  I’m not a gratitude practice kind of person.  That sort of list-making seems to make me focus on what’s missing rather than on what’s there.  Instead, I’m acknowledging it, that it’s not quite right, that it’s not what I want, and that it’s still ok, good enough even.

My family is Danish-American, and Christmas Eve was traditionally the day we celebrated growing up, a day for a big family dinner and opening the presents under the tree.  (Only stockings stuffed with treats from Santa to be enjoyed on Christmas morning.)  Christmas won’t be that this year, it’s going to be a bit disappointing, and I’m fine with that.  I hope you are able to be ok with your holidays, too, in whatever form they come.  “Meh Christmas to all, and to all a good enough night.

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher.  She can be found making tins of homemade candies and cookies to send to her family, picking up heavy things, and putting them back down again in Portland, Oregon. You can now read her at Progressive-Strength.com .

Photo description: Five people on bicycles wearing Santa Claus costumes. Photo credit: Rocco Dipoppa photographer, Unsplash.
fitness · holidays

Gift guide for pandemic fitness: the silly edition

I love holiday gift guides. Not that they’re helpful at all: either the items are out of my price range (like this vegan leather lunchbox for $149) or too silly (like this service that will mail someone a potato with an image of your face on it). But gift guides are splashy and fun and a bit inspirational; maybe I won’t buy these gold jug drop earrings for my sister for $395, but I can look for something pretty and classic (and cheaper) on Etsy (maybe these will do).

So, in the spirit of trying to squeeze some lemonade from the severely out-of-season lemon which is 2020, here are some distracting and silly gifts that you probably shouldn’t buy this season.

If you’re looking to go big in unnecessary fitness gadgets gift-giving, you can’t do much better than buying a $1500 app-enabled mirror (called “The Mirror”) that lets you see some canned (but maybe a bit interactive with your fitness data?) workouts from boxing to barre to kettlebells and beyond. The membership for the app is sold separately for $39/month. it displays you plus the canned instructor plus a bunch of metrics. And, it goes beautifully with a variety of decors.

In the “kill two birds with one stone purchase” category: Athleta is selling a COVID/assassin ensemble for outdoor winter running or walking for the low low price of $98. It even comes in two colors, presumably to accommodate differing light levels.

Some of you might be thinking, “in a year like 2020, there’s no space for foolishness and frippery; I want evidence-based fitness and health products!” Well, never fear, the Barefoot Scientist products are here, complete with full documentation by way of the Barefoot Scientist blog. In this entry on how to start a foot care routine, we are soberly instructed to identify our foot care goals (uh, clean feet? trim nails?) and shift our mindset (start small with a 3-step kit, being mindful of other possible foot needs that may arise). They even have a drop down menu for shopping By Concern:

Dry skin? calluses? aches? Odor? Dirt? Blisters? Nail issues? We got you.
Dry skin? calluses? aches? Odor? Dirt? Blisters? Nail issues? We got you.

For holiday shopping, Barefoot Scientist makes it easy, offering gift sets for every foot.

Products for the busy exerciser, from Pre-Heels spray to help reduce blisters (?), to twinkle toes to keep the odors at bay.
Products for the busy exerciser, from Pre-Heels spray to help reduce blisters, to Twinkle Toes to keep the odors at bay.

One problem a bunch of us are experiencing is boredom from doing the same old workouts all the time from home. If you’re looking to shake things up, here’s a product for you: Fitness Dice!

6 wooden Fitness Dice, each with one type of exercise that you already do.
6 wooden Fitness Dice, each with types of exercise that you already do.

Okay, this may not seem revolutionary, as the pictures on the dice look like the plain ol’ vanilla moves everyone has done. But, the Fitness Dice folks beg to differ:

First, roll six dice to decide which target areas you’ll tackle. Then, toss the seventh to determine your repetitions and time. Worried about getting bored? Don’t sweat it: with an instruction booklet to walk you through each challenge, every roll leads to one of 45,000 possible routines, designed for all experience levels.

I’m a little doubtful that changing the order and number of repetitions of these exercises will make for 45,000 different-seeming workouts, but for $19 (and it’s even backordered!), how much can you expect?

Maybe you’re just flat-out missing the experience of the gym or sports club or local pool: the sights, sounds, smells (okay, I just went too far) that are all part of your workout ritual. Well, I’ve got a (partial) solution for you: why not make your living room more like the locker room by putting up this Exercise Room sign, available here for $57.95.

Exercise rules sign.
Lest we forget– safety first!

What’s on your fitness holiday gift list this year (either to give or receive)? Don’t tell my family, but I’ve given up on originality, so it’s dish towels for everyone. Hey, you can always use more dish towels

eating · habits · holidays

Make-Ahead Breakfast Food Prep–The Pumpkin Spice Edition!

Last year I offered up some breakfast and lunch food prep ideas based on what I’d been eating at the time.  Appetites change, work from home has replaced “the office” for many of us, and I wondered if it might be time for another set of recipes.  Today, a few more ideas for make-ahead breakfasts.  I know we’re reaching the end of the “pumpkin spice” season, but I find these flavors wonderful and soothing as long as the weather is cold. 

Marjorie’s Homemade Granola–Master Recipe

I’ve been working on a good homemade granola recipe for probably a decade now.  I like to have some sprinkled over fruit and Greek yogurt.  I eat it for an afternoon snack fairly often as well.  I will first provide the master recipe, in which you can switch things up as much as you prefer.  Then, I will give my go-to version, for those of you who don’t want to make so many decisions.

one.  Preheat the oven to 300 oF.

two.  Stir together in a baking dish or large glass casserole:

2 cups old-fashioned oats, quick oats, buckwheat groats, other flaked grains, or a mixture of any of these

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (you can use sweetened, if you can’t find it unsweetened, but obviously, the final result will be sweeter)

1.5 cups coarsely chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or a mixture of these

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp powdered ginger

three.  Heat briefly in a microwave and stir together:

2 tbs nut butter or coconut oil

2 tbs honey or maple syrup

four.  Add 1 mashed very ripe banana to the honey mixture

And maybe ½ tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract 

five.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until everything is evenly moistened.

six.  Bake until completely dried, stirring every half hour or so.  If it starts to toast too quickly, lower the temperature to 250oF.  Takes about 1 ½ hours.  

seven.  Allow to cool completely before packing into containers with tight-sealing lids.  Stays good, at room temperature, for several weeks.

My Go-to: Coconut Buckwheat Granola

Ingredients:

1 cup buckwheat groats (also called kasha)

1 cup quick oats (these seem to make the best, crunchy oat clusters in my experience)

1 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut

2 tbs all-natural crunchy peanut butter

2 tbs honey (really delicious with a strong-tasting honey like blackberry honey)

1 cup slivered almonds

½ cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 very ripe banana, mashed

Harvest Egg Bake

This custard is like a less-sweet pumpkin pie for breakfast.   In parts of the world where you are sadly without copious quantities of canned, winter squash puree, you could substitute mashed, roasted sweet potatoes.  One final note, if you want to substitute another milk, keep in mind that fats serve an important purpose in custards, keeping the proteins happy as they reach temperature.  A less fatty “milk” like almond milk or skim may split and create a less favorable texture.

one. Preheat the oven to 350oF.

two. Butter a large, 9×13 baking dish.

three. Whisk together:

12 whole eggs, or 6 whole eggs plus 2 cups egg whites

1.5 cups whole or 2% milk or soy milk 

15 oz can (about 1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree

½-1 tsp cinnamon (honestly, I don’t actually measure this, I use a lot)

A few shakes of ground nutmeg

¼ cup brown sugar (or more, to taste)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Zest of 1 orange (optional but delicious)

four. Pour the custard into the prepared baking dish.  Then sprinkle evenly with:

2-3 finely chopped, good baking apples

⅓ cup raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, or a combination thereof

Maybe a few tangerines or a naval orange, finely chopped

five. Bake until just set in the middle, about 1 hour.

six. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 6 servings.

Variation:  Harvest Oatmeal Bake

Follow the recipe, adding 1/2 cup additional milk or water to the custard and evenly spreading 2 cups of old-fashioned oats with the apples and fruit, gently pushing the oats down into the custard with a spoon.

Serve warm with a scoop of plain Greek yogurt, maybe a little maple syrup, and a tablespoon or two of chopped walnuts, for a satisfying, balanced breakfast.

Bonus “recipe:” Spiced Coffee

I make my coffee in a pour-over, but I would think this would work in a French press, too, you will just get a little more spice powder circulating in the cup.  But hey, the sludge is part of the charm of French press coffee, right?

Add to the filter with your coffee grounds:

A generous shake or two each of cinnamon and ground turmeric

A little nutmeg

Maybe a dash of cardamom

Sweeten and cream your coffee, if you like, as you like

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher. She can be found buying cinnamon in bulk, picking up heavy things and putting them back down again in Portland, Oregon. You can now read her at Progressive-Strength.com .

Photo description: Pumpkins in a pumpkin patch. Photo courtesy of unsplash, photographer Christopher Rusev.
fitness · holidays

Happy Halloween!

I like most of the moods of exercise, from the sometimes somewhat serious business of team training and racing to the very silly world of holiday themed workouts.

Here’s two I did this Halloween season:

  1. Zwift Halloween costume rides with pace partners: See photos above. We all gradually acquired costumes as we rode along with the special guest pace partners. It was a nice easy recovery ride with lots of laughs along the way. See HALLOWEEN HIJINKS HAVE BEGUN! UNLOCK COSTUMES WITH NEW PACE PARTNERS: “ZwiftHQ likes to have a little fun on certain holidays – especially Halloween, Christmas, and April Fools’. (With Halloween just around the corner, Zwifters may remember that we earned dino costumes in 2019rode bone bikes and swapped heads in 2018, and looked like witches and monsters in 2017.) Last night some new Pace Partners went live as part of a little Halloween game. Carlin Cosmic, Darwin Dino, Delta Daring have arrived, and they’re handing out Halloween costumes!”

2. I also did Yoga with Adriene’s spooky Yoga for When You Feel Dead Inside which I enjoyed from the moments of silliness at the start to the actual practice itself.

How about you? Are you doing any Halloween themed workouts? Let us know in the comments below.