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6 Healthy Oils and How to Cook with Them (Without Smoking Yourself Out of the House)

You’ve probably heard by now how terrific extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil are for you. It seems everywhere I look, there’s another article about the benefits of coconut oil. This is great, except I can’t help but feel like there’s a disconnect out there between being told that certain oils are healthy and being told how to actually use them the way they’re supposed to be used. Maybe it’s just me, maybe you’ve all done your research and you’re shaking your head right now thinking, “Poor Crystal, she’s the last to catch on.” Either way, I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned over the years about healthy oils and how to cook with them, without smoking everyone out of the house.

"Looks like Crystal's experimenting again..."
“Looks like Crystal’s experimenting again…”

This is not an exhaustive list of every healthy oil out there, this is just my list of the ones I use and finally feel comfortable not screwing up. I have yet to implement oils into my kitchen such as macadamia nut, hemp, hazelnut, or even tea seed (yes, it’s real, but I think it’s super scarce which means it’s super expensive and I’m likely not up for that at this particular point in my life). I hear those are all good and I do know nut oils are usually winners, but let’s just start with a few basics.

Avocado oil

Smoke point: 480 to 520 degrees

Avocadoes are really high in monounsaturated fat, which is a great thing, and the benefits of this oil are plentiful. With that said, it’s on the pricey side so I don’t use it for an everyday cooking oil. If you’re okay with re-stocking more often, you could absolutely use this as one of your main oils. This oil has the highest smoke point of most oils out there which makes it nice for grilling and roasting. You can rest assured knowing the oil won’t break down when cooked at high temps. But as I mentioned, I prefer to use this sparingly for budget reasons so I really like it drizzled on my salads or thrown into pasta.

Extra virgin olive oil

Smoke point: 365 to 400 degrees

I find that, like I used to, a lot of people use this oil exclusively and don’t know that unless it’s a very high quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), it shouldn’t be cooked at really high temps. It took a few ruined dishes for me to learn this. Most conventional extra virgin olive oils we find and buy in the stores are lower quality, so they begin to break down at a lower temp. This doesn’t mean they’re not good for you, you’ll still get the beneficial free-fatty acids out of them (unless they’re SUPER cheap). But you’ll want to save this all-star oil for making things like dressings, pesto, sauces, or sautéing. We do use our Misto oil sprayer and put EVOO on our veggies when we bake/roast them, we just make sure the temperature is set at around 350 degrees.

Canola oil

Smoke point: 400 to 430 degrees

I think some people would argue whether this is a healthy oil, but I fall on the side of those who think it is, mostly because it’s high in the good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and lower in saturated fat than other cooking oils. I’m not afraid of saturated fat but since this is our go-to oil for all high-heat cooking we do (which isn’t a lot), I like knowing I’m not adding in a bunch of stuff I don’t need.

Toasted sesame oil

Smoke point: 410 degrees

This one is a favorite of ours because we love the sesame flavor in our stir fries, salad dressings, and sauces. Sesame oil is full of antioxidants and, like the others, high in the two good fats. Plus you can safely make a marinade out of it and throw it on the grill without the oil breaking down.

Walnut oil

Smoke point: 320 degrees

This is a fun and yummy oil, but the first time I used it someone had told me to bake with it. Wrong information. I didn’t know that the oil of walnuts is super fragile which means it’s bitter when it gets heated much past 300 degrees, which is kind of necessary in baking. I ruined some really promising pancakes. Since then, I’ve learned it’s best used in place of butter. So think about trying it on breads, in dips and sauces, or sprinkled over bruschetta.

Coconut oil

Smoke point: 350 degrees

The trendiest of all oils right now, coconut oil is indeed pretty wonderful. But at some point you may have questioned why it’s so wonderful given it’s higher in saturated fat. Here’s the thing: Not all saturated fat is bad for you. The type of saturated fat in coconut oil is not derived out of the same type found in meat and dairy. In fact, it doesn’t even break down in your body the same way, therefore it doesn’t get stored as fat like you might expect. This stuff is the real deal. My favorite way to use it is a tablespoon in my green smoothies (heat it up gently into liquid form first, then pour into the blender while it’s mixing) or a ½ tablespoon to make homemade popcorn (if you like the slight flavor of coconut). But you can bake with it at moderate temps and use it in sautés. Be careful, however, when making things on the stove like pancakes unless you can guarantee the temperature will stay under 350. Again, more promising pancakes have been ruined because I didn’t know what I was doing.

I would love to hear what healthy oils you all use and how you use them!

What You Don’t Know About Wine Won’t Hurt You

I’m going to let you in on a little something you may not know and may be appalled to learn: Winemakers don’t wash their grapes.

Does that freak you out? You might want to get over it, or start favoring a different libation.

Last week there was a big to-do made in the media about how Trader Joe’s infamous wine, Two Buck Chuck, allegedly contains rodent blood and other miscellaneous nasties because the grapes they use to make the wine are harvested by huge machines that grab anything and everything, throw it all in a receptacle without sorting and make vino, essentially. In case you missed it, here’s the article that explains how the mess got started and what the owners had to say about it after this accusation was made:

The really big ruckus over ‘Two Buck Chuck’

I’m not saying I think Two Buck Chuck is as exceptional for the price as others believe it is. But certainly, if you like it and enjoy it, then drink it. I myself think you get what you pay for and sometimes that’s A-OK with me if I’m in a bind and need some vino, ANY vino, STAT. And furthermore, if you simply don’t like how wine tastes or a winery/winemaker’s ethics then those are good reasons not to drink the wine. But it’s not rodents that should keep you away (or even the stomping bare feet of strangers). The idea of wine having animal blood in it is ridiculous. But I realize that many people probably don’t know why it’s so ridiculous, especially if the fermentation process has never been explained to them. I certainly didn’t understand until Von started making wine years ago and I saw the process myself.

So I’m going to give you my version of how this all works. If you’d like a more scientific one, feel free to contact my husband or go Google crazy.

Grapes are harvested, sometimes by machines if it’s a major production winery and often by the hands of vineyard workers who can pick an insane amount of grapes in a couple hours. I know this because two years ago we chose to pick our own grapes from one of the vineyards we purchase from out in Sunnyslope and it took four of us adults and one toddler HOURS to get 1,000 pounds of grapes. The people out in the fields? They can knock that out in about an hour, I’m sure.

Courtesy of Luce Della Vite
Courtesy of Luce Della Vite

The grapes get to the winery, where we put them in the crusher/destemmer to sort through the stems and leaves and weed out all the junk (this would apply to rodents too, if you’re still hung up on those). We do NOT wash our grapes. I know that causes shock to some since we live in a world obsessed with sanitation yet we want our food fresh. We do see spiders, ear wigs, occasional wasps and other insects. Typically vineyards don’t use a lot of pesticides because pesticides can change the natural fermentation process. This is good news for you, the wine drinker, as well as the wine itself. The thing is, all that grapey bacteria – the must and flora and natural yeast – is stuff we want in the wine. Washing it off would be…dumb. Have you ever thought you’d like to see a winery who advertises that they have the cleanest wine? Me, I want my wine DIRTY.

After all that stuff is sorted out, we start making the good stuff. Depending on the varietal, some grapes will get pressed (or stomped) and tossed in with the skins, others will get pressed and the skins will be thrown out. No matter which way it goes, all will start the first phase of fermentation, which is a very active process because the yeast (both added and natural) works like wild fire. It’s so active that it needs open air to do its thing. It never gets old to see the thick cap of skins on wine when it’s fermenting the first few days. We “punch down” the cap of skins often so they can continue to mix with the yeast. This is fun for me, because I’m punching things with the knowledge that my punching will be rewarded later on with lots of glasses of liquid happiness.

Punching down the grape cap
Punching down the grape cap

The second phase is when the yeast calms down and does its hard work quietly, so it’s time to cover it. There’s more appropriate and more wine-sophisticated ways to say that but I don’t have those words for you.

Now here’s the important part, so pay attention: This 2-phase fermentation process, the one I just walked you through so eloquently? It is responsible for killing any crazy bacteria or virus that could possibly infect a human being. Wine is not a place for human diseases and, subsequently, it is not a place for animal blood. The yeast bacteria destroys any and all harmful pathogens during fermentation. While an occasional rodent may have been spotted at some point between the field and the destemmer (although we have yet to witness that ourselves), I assure you there’s not even a micro-trace of it anywhere in that bottle of wine you’re thinking about buying. There is only good, productive, and essential bacteria.

So now you know. And you’re feeling good about it, aren’t you? So drink up!

8 Things Small Children Hate and Adults Crave

There are definitely a few things my kids despise that I can’t blame them for – ear drops (currently dealing with this debacle), me licking my fingers to wipe their face (which I swore I’d never do), a really @#$! hot seat belt buckle, sun block (I never have liked the feeling of the stuff, either), melted ice cream, and flies, among other things. But there are a few things they balk at and I want to pull my older-wiser-trust-me card and tell them how one day they’ll look back and wish they’d taken advantage of the situation.

Before I list off those things, let it be said I completely recognize that children hate these things for developmental reasons and their need for more autonomy and it’s all good for their self-confidence, blah-blah-blah. Let’s just put the child-rearing psychology aside for a moment and have a chuckle.

Feel free to add to this list if you have things your children hate and you not-so secretly wish you could trade places.

Thank you, tumblr user mamazahran. This nails it.
Thank you, tumblr user mamazahran. This nails it.

1. Time out 

Whenever Luke hears “Do you want to go to the corner?” he promptly says “nuh” (no). Once he’s in the corner he cries as though we just told him he’ll never eat again. Pretty standard reaction from a toddler. But as an adult, let’s think about this: You’re telling me I get to  go to the corner, by myself, not talk to anyone, and relax, until I feel like I’m ready to come out and engage reasonably with other people? Pfft! Hell yeah I want to go to the corner! Show. Me. The corner!!! I will stay in the corner all DAY if you want me to! Just slip a little food and water my way once in a while and you won’t have a problem with me again.

2.  Nap time   

This is a given but I couldn’t skip over it. Although instead of my daughter’s favorite stuffed kitty, just toss me a bottle of wine to snuggle up with.

3.  Getting their hair washed 

My kids actually love bath time, but when it comes to rinsing the shampoo out they each take a deep breath and wave their hands around as though they’re going into the deep end. I pour cups of water over their head and we do this as quickly as possible so that they’ll start breathing as quickly as possible. I’ve tried being more gentle about it but they’re all business when it comes to getting their hair washed. Not me. I can’t wait for that hair appointment every 6-8 weeks so my wonderful hair dresser will massage my scalp while washing my hair. Having my hair washed is heaven. I would gladly let my mom wash my hair for me again if it wasn’t at all weird now that I’m 32.

4.  Having their outfit chosen for them 

Luke’s still young enough he could care less what he wears, but Lila – my sweet, opinionated, princessy, giggly, short-fused spaz – has a very clear idea of what she wants to wear that day. I just don’t have a frickin’ clue what it is. Obviously, because when she tells me she wants to wear her pink skirt with the sparkles on it and I grab the pink skirt with the sparkles on it and she tells me that’s not the one, that she wants the other pink one (that’s really purple) with the sparkles on it (which it doesn’t actually have) and she melts into tears because I should know better…I want to grab her by her fairy wings and tell her how one day, ONE DAY, she will wake up in the morning, run to the coffee pot, run back to the bathroom to get ready for work and realize all her laundry is in the washer and she has nothing to wear but has to be out the door 5 minutes ago. Then, THEN, she will wish someone had picked out her clothes for her regardless of the pinkness or the invisible sparkles.

5.  Being bored 

I know I have only begun to tread into “I’m borrrrrred” territory. My kids don’t actually say it yet but I can tell when they’re bored. Luke starts throwing major appliances into the kiddie pool and Lila starts crying because her cup of milk isn’t in the same spot she left it in. The inside of our house has been toilet papered countless times because of boredom. All hell breaks loose and war is imminent. It’s up to Mom or Dad to think of something fast or no one is having a good day and there will be multiple wine bottle casualties. I only wish I could get bored. If I were bored I would get a lot of things done. Or I would catch up on a bunch of shows I started watching while pregnant the first go-around and haven’t laid eyes on since. Or I would just laugh at everyone else running around doing stuff, not being bored. Being bored would be a hoot.

Photo credit: Flickr user Laura Libert
Photo credit: Flickr user Laura Libert

6. Long, social meals enjoyed anywhere but home  

We very seldom go out to eat with the kids. Mostly because we don’t want eye daggers, hate mail, or tire slashing from the restaurant staff. Once Luke has finished his meal and there is no more food left within a 5-mile radius he’s over it and tries to haul off anytime we look away. Lila gets restless, starts asking a bunch of weird questions and talking in what can only be described as baby-talk meets rabbit. The dynamics are a train wreck. I would love a good long sit-down meal with friends at a restaurant where we don’t have to cook or clean. Some day we will hopefully have those kind of outings again but in the meantime we’ll keep enjoying our meals at home so I can inevitably get pulled away mid-bite because Luke pooped.

7. Anything on TV not involving princesses, Mickey/Minnie Mouse, PBS cartoons, or sing-a-long music 

Our mornings typically go like this: Lila wakes up, snuggles me for 5 seconds, plods into the living room with her slippers on, plops down on the couch and begins her first sentence with “I wanna watch…” You know what I want to watch? Something funny, or R rated, or something with anyone in it besides Elmo and crew. The entire last season of Dexter and definitely more cooking shows so I can drool over whatever America’s Test Kitchen is onto this week. The list is pretty long because we haven’t really watched anything without falling asleep. As it is, Daniel Tiger has actually appeared in my dreams. I’m pretty sure the only on-screen person who used to appear in my dreams pre-kids was Mark Wahlberg.

8.  Saving money on the water bill

In child-rearing, everything is just a phase. Well we’re in this phase where our money gets flushed down the toilet. I mean I think it’s super sweet how Luke likes to be in the bathroom with me as I’m getting ready in the morning. He watches me, talks to me, throws my hair brush in the garbage, and flushes the toilet about 80 times because it’s hilarious. Then he proceeds to the hallway bathroom to climb up on his stool, brush his teeth and make sure the sink faucet runs for 15 minutes. The kid is adorable, really he is. And his adorableness is evident every month our water bill comes due. You know how before you had kids “they” always warned you how expensive kids are and you just smiled and agreed because, yes, obviously, that made sense? You had noooo idea, did you?

Well now you tell me...
Well now you tell me…

Exploring Washington (Coast) Wines

After spending a week vacationing in Westport, WA located on Gray’s Harbor, I think I can scratch a few things off my bucket list.

Rent a beach house on the Washington Coast, check.

Beach Arrival 1

Beach Arrival 2

The condos where we stayed.
The condos where we stayed.

 

Go clamming on the bay, check.

Turns out that although fun, this is a lot of work. I suppose that's why most people buy their clams.
Turns out that although fun, this is a lot of work. I suppose that’s why most people buy their clams.

 

Set crab traps off the pier and learn how to clean them properly before cooking, check.

Von and my mom checking our crab rings.
Von and my mom checking our crab rings.
My dad checking to make sure this crab is a legal size to keep (it was, and tasted great later).
My dad checking to make sure this crab is a legal size to keep (it was, and tasted great later).
These mean things are actually really easy to clean.
These mean things are actually really easy to clean.

 

Eat a geoduck clam, check (pronounced goey duck, which makes no sense to this grammar nerd).

Meet Geoduck, Jr.
Meet Geoduck, Jr.

 

Try wines produced in a coastal town, check.

To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting tremendous wines on the coast. I wasn’t sure about the grape-growing situation or the demand for turning those grapes into drinkable form. Not to generalize or anything, but Westport and the surrounding area is a fishing destination and a hot spot for clamming during open season. This may be pure speculation but I’m going to bet most fisher-people get off a boat after a day or two and reach for a shower and a beer.

Nevertheless, we were looking forward to checking it out once we arrived. We visited two wineries, both are located in Westport and both are large-production outfits, meaning they put our 300 – 400 cases a year to shame.

But are they any good, you ask?

First stop: Westport Winery

Westport Winery

This was a fun place because they had a small vineyard on-site that they built beautiful gardens around. After we each tasted our 5 complimentary wines we purchased a glass of our favorite and walked around the gardens while we drank and the kiddos ate popcorn (brilliant!). They even had a giant outdoor scrabble board and a putting green.

Happy kids, happy mom.
Happy kids, happy mom.

These guys make over 30 wines, which is a feat in itself considering all the label work that goes into each one, and boyyyy do Von and I know a little something about label work. Which brings me to point out another thing I liked about Westport Winery – their labels were a lot of fun.

Westport Winery 4

With names like Mermaid Merlot, Charterboat Chick, Jetty Cat, Peaches on the Beaches, and Nirvana, how can you not have fun with that?

(A quick tidbit about the ‘Nirvana’ reference: Kurt Cobain grew up in the area. Specifically he spent his childhood in Aberdeen, WA which is about 25 minutes away from Westport. There are Kurt Cobain memorials and tributes throughout the area.)

Did the wines we sampled blow our hair back? Not really, but they were decent. All three of us chose the Nirvana, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, as our favorite. Von and I both purchased a glass of the Surfer, a Syrah, but my mom had purchased a glass of Nirvana and we definitely preferred hers. When she went to inquire about the price of a bottle she found out it was $49. It was good, but we weren’t feeling it was $49 good. So there ya go.

I would have liked to sample more wines but we couldn’t have possibly tried all 30 (At least not with small children in tow. “You want to play with that glass decanter? Suuuure!“). Plus, many of them were sweeter blends and the sweet side isn’t really my cup of vino. They also have a hard cider, sparkling wine, and raspberry chocolate wine that sound like fun (okay, so maybe the raspberry chocolate sounds not-so-good to me, but I’m sure lots of people love it). Overall this was a neat place and we were definitely glad we stopped.

Second stop: Cranberry Road Winery & Bog Water Brewing Co.

Cranberry Road 1

So here’s the deal: These guys don’t use any grapes for their cranberry wine, which makes sense but it also painted this tart and sweet picture that I was prepared to dislike. Still, we were really curious and we love seeing other people doing fun and different things with wine like we are. They also brew beer and, if I was a beer girl, I think I would have really liked their Rye IPA. As it was, I somewhat enjoyed two sips and went back to what fits like a glove to my hand – my wine glass.

They have two cranberry wines: Straight-up Cranberry and a Cinnamon Cranberry. Both were surprisingly good and not near as tart or syrupy sweet as we had pre-conceived. As we were sampling, the owner (a really friendly woman) began telling us how they drink these wines. The Cranberry wine is apparently terrific as a sangria, so she gave us the delicious-sounding recipe for that. Alternatively, the Cinnamon Cranberry makes a really yummy mulled wine which I loved the sound of, especially as we enter the Fall months. Mulled wine and Halloween go together for me like…grapes and yeast.

Cranberry Road 2

The three of us were happy with this fun find and we bought a couple bottles of each to try out the recipes. Talking to this woman reminded me of how we talk to people at the market when they try our jalapeno wines. We start with a conversation about wine and pretty soon we’re talking recipes, then food, then experiences. It’s a really cool way to make wine enjoyable on more levels.

At the end of the day, we went back to our beach house, watched the sunset, and poured a glass of Pinot Noir from Santa Barbera County my mom had brought along on her drive because it was so aptly named SeaGlass. It wasn’t Washington Coast wine, but it was perfect.

Westport Sunset
Paradise.

6 Favorite Things

Of course there are several things that keep us sane(ish) in life. Coffee, exercise, quiet time (aka: your commute to and from work), date night, the outdoors, etc. What about those things we don’t necessarily need but that make our life easier to navigate? That’s what this post is about. I’m not trying to paint the whole misguided “If you were stranded alone on an island what one thing or person would you want with you?” scenarios. I’m talking about this scenario: “If you were you on any given day and you could pick a few things that you actually use and are in your purse/gym bag/car right now, what would they be?” In my case, I have six of these things (so far). They don’t necessarily make me a better mom but I do think they make me feel less discombobulated/manic/confused/stressed/ill equipped, in general.

Please share: What things make your life “better”?

Miss A Knife Kit

(overstock.com)

Need a toothpick? No problem!
Need a toothpick? No problem!

This bad-girl was given to me at my son’s baby shower by a mother of two who obviously knows her stuff. Like the fact that sometimes your day boils down to needing a Swiss Army knife on crack! It boasts 16 different tools including a pill box, flashlight, needle and thread (Pfft! As if I’ve ever used that one.), safety pin (surprisingly handy), tweezers (for retrieving weird stuff my kids stuff into various holes everywhere), a corkscrew (Hellooooo! WinnerWinner!), a nail file, scissors, and a pen, among other things. And yes, mine is pink. Yours doesn’t have to be, they come in many colors. As this post gets published, overstock.com is sold out but I hear that happens a lot with this item so keep checking back.

Go Fit Weight Lifting Gloves

(Target)

Not just for moonwalking...
Not just for moonwalking…

You don’t have to lift psycho-sized weights to justify a pair of these. Plus they’re not that expensive. These save my hands from getting tired during a workout even if I’m lifting moderate weights. I sometimes wear them when I do Pilates or yoga too because they keep my hands from sliding around. I used to scoff at people who wore gloves as though they were a frivolous accessory. Turns out these are pretty clever! I got mine in the Target store but you can also find them on the website.

Fitbit

(Fitbit.com)

My Accountability Officer
My Accountability Officer

Yes, I’m that nerd who wears something on my waistband everywhere I go. But they make cool ones you can wear on your wrist, too. I love the Fitbit – it tracks all my steps for the day and factors in my calorie burn. I can even track my sleep if I’m ever so inclined to wear it to bed. It syncs up with your computer or phone so you don’t need a bunch of wires every time it needs a charge or to check your data. I use the Fitbit app on my phone which also allows me to log exercises I do outside of walking and running. Plus, if you’re a fan of the MyFitnessPal app it syncs with that as well.

Card Organizer

 (cardcubby.com)

Organized chaos!
Organized chaos!

Someone who understands me very well gave this to me a long time ago and it’s been a lifesaver when it comes time to find a random gift card, points card or other seemingly-useless-until-you-suddenly-need-it card. This thing makes me look organized! And until I look at the rest of my purse, I believe it.

Gymboss Interval Timer

(Gymboss.com)

Torture yourself with this! It's fun!
Torture yourself with this! It’s fun!

My last post was about HIIT workouts and how much I love them because they’re total time savers. This timer is what I use for those. It’s also handy when I’m doing sprint intervals on the greenbelt (it’s got a vibrate mode which keeps other people from getting freaked out). It makes my home workouts that much easier because I set it beforehand and therefore don’t have to watch the clock. Luke likes it because it beeps and Mom doesn’t want him to play with it. So, naturally, he spends the entirety of the workout trying to eat it.

Psst! For a quick HIIT workout check out this post!

To-Go Wine Glasses

(Gas stations everywhere, USA)

It's not ghetto to get your wine at a gas station if the packaging's cute, right?
It’s not ghetto to get your wine at a gas station if the packaging’s cute, right?

The answer to the prayer I might have made! How clever are these people who read our minds about needing a travel-sized, single-serving glass of wine that doesn’t taste like the cardboard it usually comes in? I can’t tell you how many times Von and I have needed/wanted/wished for these things! They are almost like collector’s items in our house. Because we need more junk…

Do you use any of these above things?

Beginner HIIT Workout!

As I get ready for our family’s summer getaway I’m reminded of how completely unfocused, chaotic and jam-packed the schedule gets the week leading up to vacation. So much work goes into planned relaxation, it’s pretty comical really. So in the interest of preserving my sanity, keeping my body strong and saving time, I’m focusing on HIIT workouts right now.

Those of you who have trained with me know I love my HIIT workouts. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and, essentially, it entails working out as hard as you can with very little recovery between exercises and getting it done in half the time of a traditional workout. Sometimes even less than that. And since time is not usually on our side it seems, these HIIT sessions can really save your butt (literally and figuratively).

As far as HIIT goes, there’s a lot of options. You can apply HIIT to pretty much anything – running, the elliptical machine, the weight room, body weight exercises (my favorite), even Pilates. I have yet to figure out how to apply it to potty training, but you never know…

"HIIT for Parenting", the book we haven't yet seen on the shelves.
“HIIT for Parenting”, the book we haven’t yet seen on the shelves.

Although HIIT isn’t exactly new, I know there are a lot of people who haven’t yet tried it. Or they’ve tried it without realizing it. So this post is dedicated to HIIT newbies. Which, by the way, doesn’t mean you’re new to fitness or even that you’re out of shape. I have quite a few clients who are in fantastic shape and have a solid workout regimen but have never tried HIIT. I always start them out at the beginning, even if they’re a triathlete. HIIT could care less about your conditioning level because it’s all about max effort with little rest between that effort, all with the intention of burning body fat more effectively. In other words I don’t care who you are, it’s going to make you sweat! Still aren’t buying what I’m selling? Read more about the hip HIIT benefits here.

All you need is a timer or stop watch. You’re going to complete each exercise for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, then repeat the same exercise two more times (for a total of 3 times). Then you’ll move on to the next exercise. Complete the entire workout once, rest for 1 minute, then do the whole thing again. If, after two rounds, you feel like you have more left in you still, you should do it for a third time. 

This specific workout requires a three-minute warm up of your choice. If I’m at home my three minutes usually consists of a minute each of squats, jumping jacks, and alternating front-to-back kicks. If I’m at the studio I prefer to warm up with an easy jog on the treadmill. The idea is simply to get your body warm and ready for a workout.

A couple things worth noting before you dive in:

1. You’re going to get tired, that’s the whole point. You want to walk away from this 20 minutes later feeling like you left it all on the gym or living room floor.

2. If you’re doing the pushups and you feel like you’re not doing them correctly or your form is suffering, go down on your knees PLEASE! I don’t know why the world is afraid of knee pushups. It irritates me to no end. Sure, it’s best if you can do them on your toes and the idea should be to work up to that. But let me just tell you, if you do a knee pushup correctly, you’ll get the same results.If you’re doing full pushups with poor form you’re not doing yourself any favors whatsoever. End of rant.

A few demos to watch before you begin if you’re unfamiliar with any of the exercises I’ve given:

Traveling Pushups Demo

Bicycle Crunches

Butt Kicks

Skater Hops

Got it? Good. You’re ready! BeginnerHIIT Let me know what you think. I’ll be posting more HIIT workouts in the future and if you enjoy this one please share!

Embracing White Wine

Here’s a quick note to my younger self: You will like white wine one day.

"Brace. Yourself."
“Brace. Yourself.”

I started out drinking red wine in my early 20’s mostly because, I’ll admit, I was embarking on my career in fitness and wanted to enjoy social drinking without killing my gut and calorie budget. Red wine seemed like the way to go. I started drinking merlot (a good entry-level variety), then cabernet, then tempranillo….then I became a red wine equal-opportunist. I guess it sort of negates the calorie-dodging argument if you go into full fledged wino mode, huh?

With all the wine drinking I was doing never did I get excited about white wines. Don’t take this personally, my white-wine-loving friends, but I actually thought white wine was for wimps. To me it was the equivalent of ordering a wine spritzer and the only people I knew who drank white wine were my girly friends who always complained about their weight and ordered salad for dinner everywhere we went never mind the fact that it was covered in crispy fried chicken and ranch dressing. (Enter Despicable Me Minion voice here: “Whaaaat?!”)

It wasn’t until Von started making wine that I gave white wine a shot. In fact, the first wine he ever made was white and to this day it is my favorite. Too bad we were amateurs then and only made a few cases. He probably did everything wrong as far as wine making goes and it was a huge hit, at least among our family, friends, and the judges at the Western Idaho Fair. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Actually more often than not.

While red wine is still the breadwinner of our wine cellar (and by cellar I mean the rack on our kitchen counter), this whole winery ownership thing has forced me out of my comfort zone and into the realm of white wine. Here are a few of my favorites:

New Age with Ice and Lime

This has been around a while and most people who drink it know it’s best fixed this way.

Good for when it's 100+ degrees outside and you want to forget about how much you're sweating just from walking to your mailbox.
Good for when it’s 100+ degrees outside and you want to forget about how much you’re sweating just from walking to your mailbox.

Mouvance Pinot Gris (local winery)

They’ve sold out of the 2010 but their 2009 is exciting too. We purchased a bottle last Fall when we took my mom to the Boise urban wineries for a day of tasting. I’m sure they all loved our children crawling around on their stuff.

Check out Mouvance on Grove Street downtown.
Check out Mouvance on Grove Street downtown.

Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

You’ll find a lot of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc since Marlborough is a region in New Zealand. I’m sure there are quite a few good ones out there. This is one we were given by a friend and really enjoyed.

Give it up for the people of Marlborough, they seem to know their @#$!.
Give it up for the people of Marlborough, they seem to know their @#$!.

Potter Wines Riesling

Oh c’mon, you knew this was coming! But shameless plug aside, we’re pretty happy with this. Neither of us are sweet wine lovers so in order for us to do a Riesling it had to be on the dry/off-dry side and taste like this. (Von says I’m sweet enough for the both of us. His sarcasm drew me to him in the first place.)

“I'll tell you where. Someplace warm. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano." - Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey), Dumb and Dumber
“I’ll tell you where. Someplace warm. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.” – Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey), Dumb and Dumber

My younger self would probably call my present self a snob. Little does my younger self know what she’s in for, or that she should enjoy that social drinking while she can because someday very soon the majority of her drinking will be done inside her living room after the kids go to bed. Who am I kidding? I never wait that long.

Do you have some favorite white wines, local or other? Please comment and share what they are!

Cherry Basil Green Smoothie + Dirty Dash Entry Giveaway!

In case you’re interested in the Dirty Dash Boise race but haven’t yet signed up because the entry fee just went up AGAIN last week, I think you’ll want to check out this post for a sweet giveaway! They’ve added more waves like they do every year and when the rep from the company dropped off 2 free entry cards to me the other day she also gave me a code to give out to my clients, family, and friends to get 20% off registration. So drop me a line if you want it!

More on how you can win one of two free entries in a bit. But first…I’ve got a new green smoothie recipe for you that you’ll love if your basil obsession mirrors mine. And if you’re new to green smoothies (smoothies made with spinach or kale, usually) and you’re thinking it sounds gross, well…you’re wrong. ;)

There, I said it.
There, I said it.

For the most part I typically use baby spinach because it’s really mild and I honestly don’t even taste it when I blend it up with all the other ingredients. So you get all that green vitamin-packed Popeye goodness without feeling like you’re sipping bitter grass. Another little trick when making green smoothies: A banana makes a world of difference. I always add one.

This is my new favorite smoothie recipe and I can definitely see me drinking it most mornings over the course of the basil season. It’s light, refreshing and the right amount of filling!

Cherry Basil Green Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or your favorite milk/milk substitute
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 banana
  • 5-10 leaves fresh basil (I used closer to 10 leaves because. as I mentioned, I really like basil)
  • 1 cup or heaping handful baby spinach
  • 6 oz container plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 3-4 ice cubes (especially if you’re not using frozen fruit, the ice makes a difference)
  • 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/2 tbsp. bee pollen granules (I throw this into all my smoothies to help keep my allergies at bay. Some people can’t stand the flavor, I honestly don’t notice it anymore. Von thinks it tastes like he imagines bee poop would, so there’s that visual for you.)
  • Also optional: Drizzle a small amount of honey or pure maple syrup as you’re blending if you like it a little sweeter.

Blend it all together until you have a smoothie that looks kinda green/kinda purple/kinda red, depending on various things you’ll have no control over.

Cheers!
Cheers!

So good!

If you’re interested in the nutrition stats, here you go:

(This does not include the bee pollen or honey/maple syrup)

378 calories, 7.4g fat (0.8g saturated), 274mg sodium, 1263mg potassium, 48.8g carbohydrates, 10.3g fiber, 28.6g sugar, 23.5g protein

So about that giveaway!

Who knew mud mad us all so happy?
Who knew mud made us all so happy?

Right now entry for the Boise Dirty Dash (held Saturday, August 2nd at Bogus Basin) will run you $60. I would love nothing more than to help two of you get in for FREE! Okay, I would like some things more, like my own personal assistant to bring me wine and cherry tomatoes whenever my cravings strike. But seriously, if you’ve ever wanted to try the Dirty Dash or have done it and want to see how they’ve up’ed the ante this year, here’s how you can win:

Simply comment on this post by telling me what your favorite summer outdoor activity is. That’s it! I’ll choose 2 lucky winners at random and will announce them this Thursday, July 17th. Really, it will be random and if you’re worried about any favoritism I’ll even the playing field and let Luke pick the winners based on his responses to your comments. He pretty much says “no” or “yeah” to everything, so I don’t know how it gets any fairer than that. And if you don’t win but still want to register, contact me for the 20% off code!

And please, don’t mess up your ankle like Von did last year while doing the tire runs. While I am proud of him for finishing the race on one leg and without complaint, I don’t wish the resulting walking boot on anyone! Except for that jerk at the grocery store who rammed into me with her grocery cart…

10 Life Lessons My Kids Have Down

Most lessons we learn over time, or by doing it the hard way, or via social embarrassment. And then there’s some lessons we never learn (“that last shot seemed like such a good idea”). But if there’s anything I’ve learned lately it’s that my kids know more than I give them credit for. I may have to teach them how to pee without touching anything in a porta-potty, but I’m pretty sure they’ve got these 10 lessons down already.

1.  Take care of the Earth

A little water, sun, and Lila love.
A little water, sun, and Lila love.

Lila says: “Plant a seed and it will grow. And sometimes it grows those hot spicy things my parents are so obsessed with.”

2.  If you’re gonna take a selfie, learn how to do it correctly.

Ladies, this is how it's done.
Ladies, this is how it’s done.

The annoying kissy duck-face phenomenon is out, apparently. That I can handle.

3.  Eat your veggies…

Seriously?!
Seriously?!

“If I have to eat this, you can suck it up, too.”

4.  …But don’t overeat.

"One...more....bite...zzzzzz..."
“One…more….bite…zzzzzz…”

Dang you, serotonin!

5.  Let ‘em know who’s boss.

"I'll eat you for dinner!"
“I’ll eat you for dinner!”

If you want to be the Alpha, never show fear.

6.  Rock your style.

The person with the best caption wins a night of no sleep.
The person with the best caption wins a night of no sleep.

There’s so much that confuses the eye here, but her happiness is clear. You could make anything look good with a smile. Anything except men’s crocheted shorts, that is:

Because I was really hoping to purchase the mannequin WITH the shorts...
Because I was really hoping to purchase the mannequin WITH the shorts…

7.  Practice excellent quality control.

Our bottling specialist
Our bottling specialist

“Hey slackers, this one’s empty!”

8.  Work hard, party hard, and pay the consequences in the morning.

"I turned 3 and my body fell apart!"
“I turned 3 and my body fell apart!”

She definitely shouldn’t have had that last cup of milk.

9.  Love the one you’re with.

Nothing comes between a man and his dog, except bacteria.
Nothing comes between a man and his dog, except bacteria.

We don’t know where Eddie’s tongue has been, but Luke doesn’t seem to mind. They say dogs have a sixth sense about people. Eddie peed on Von’s couch the first time they met. They still don’t get along. In Von’s defense, he has never peed on a couch, that I know of.

10. Always have a good backup plan.

Foiled again!
Foiled again!

Don’t worry sis, I got this.”

You Have a Winery in Idaho?!

A few weeks ago Von and I attended a seminar at the Idaho Wine Commission called Shaping and Telling Your Idaho Wine Story. It was a wonderfully helpful 1.5 hours and the two presenters, Lisa Donoughe from Watershed Communications and Cole Danhower, a respected wine writer, were full of great information for us. So the take-away was: What’s our story? Everyone has a story, something compelling that makes people want to engage and learn more about them. Jalapeno wine is a story, for sure. How we got started making it, though, is pretty simple and as much as I would love to tell you we stumbled upon it by accident (since there are so many tasters out there who can’t believe we’d ever purposefully make jalapeno wine) we very much knew what we were doing. Well okay, Von knew what he was doing. I was just watching him do it, being supportive and staying open minded (because yes, for those of you wondering, I did actually cringe when he told me he was going to make jalapeno wine).

Holy Jalapeno!
Holy Jalapeno!

See here’s the thing: If you’re a wine lover like both of us are then you already know how intriguing wine is from both a science and taste profile perspective. There are so many ways wine can go, so many complex components that develop out of seemingly simple processes. I’m awed by how much I still don’t know, in fact. Von knows infinitely more than I do and he’s still learning new things all the time. We appreciate the wine industry and we can appreciate a $100 bottle of Del Dotto Vineyards Sangiovese from Napa Valley(seriously, that place is amazing and you MUST check out the wine caves if you go). But we also very much appreciate a $26 bottle of Split Rail Mourvedre from right here in our back yard (The District 44 Wineries are a quick jog from our front door step as well as from our own winery, but more on that later!). And while we’re being honest here, let’s just say we’re no stranger to the $10 two-in-1 bottle of Yellowtail Shiraz-Granache from the grocery store. When you drink as much wine as we do you slow the roll a bit on the wine budget, alright?

Yum!
Yum!

With all that said, wine can be seriously snobby. Not wine itself so much as the whole attitude circling it. I read Food & Wine magazine and want to start planning our next vacation to Spain, Chile, Tuscany, etc. And someday hopefully we will indeed go to those places. But then I remember that we’re working-class business owners, we’re busy parents, we’re not Kathy Lee Gifford with millions to invest in creating and marketing our wines. Why should we compete with people like that? Not to mention there’s plenty of delicious wine all around us. So let’s offer something different. Let’s make wine fun, interactive, open up conversations about it and in some instances unintentionally really annoy the ones who think wine has to be a certain way.

So, here we are. We’re making spicy jalapeno wine! We’ve got this “rustic shack” winery we’ve created from the ground up, quite literally, and we’re prepared to do the work ourselves so that one day we’ve got the charming tasting room you might envision. But we won’t be doing it in a way that means we have nothing left to give to our children, our future, or our families and friends. There’s something very meaningful to us about building a legacy slow-and-steady instead of pushing a bunch of money at it, money we don’t have and won’t pretend to have. And for me there’s something exciting about being part of an industry that is about to explode locally. I love working with other like-minded business owners in the community and building friendships. I guess my idea of community service is giving the only way I know how and that’s through owning a business and offering people things they can’t get anywhere else. Von, by nature, is a do-er. He is a pro at troubleshooting – figuring out how things work and making them happen. Rather than throw tens of thousands of dollars at a bottling line, he’s the guy who will find out how to build his own by hand. That’s what he’s good at and what he loves.

Hot off the press!
Hot off the press!

So that’s the story. It’s a simple one but it’s ours. And to answer the question: “What were you thinking?” We were and still are thinking that of all the directions the two of us have taken both separately and together, this is by far the most interesting one!

We have some exciting things to release in the next 6 months – some of them on the conventional side and some follow suit of the red-headed-step-child side that is the jalapeno wine. I’ll be showing you both!