Sweet Potato Veggie Casserole

sweet potato casserole recipe

The hardest part about making recipes is that I am not very precise in my measurements. I take a more artistic approach to cooking than scientific, but when it comes to sharing your recipe so others can benefit, it helps to have some good old quant skills.

So when I wrote Easy Hiking Recipes, I often tested each recipe 5+ times to fine tune the measurements! My boyfriend was pretty happy to be the taste-tester for all of my experiments :) This recipe hasn’t gone through that refining process, so I have to admit that the measurements are vague at best. But casseroles lend themselves well to ad-libbing, so perhaps you will end up with a very different and even yummier casserole than mine!

But for what it’s worth, here it is:

Sweet Potato Casserole

2 sweet potatoes, maybe 3 if they’re not huge, peeled and grated

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 broccoli crown, or other vegetables, chopped

7 eggs

Cayenne pepper and salt to taste

Optional: cheese to sprinkle on top, or chopped sausage to cook and add to the mixture

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (I just moved to Canada so I suppose I should be writing this in Celsius now, but try as I might I can’t seem to think in Centigrade. Hopefully it’ll kick in eventually). I chop the veggies as I cook, but to each his or her own. This is how I did it, though:

In a large pot, add a couple tablespoons of oil and the chopped garlic. Fry on medium until the oil starts to sizzle. In the meantime, chop the onion and add it to the pot.

Lower heat to medium-low and keep stirring the onion, while you peel and grate the sweet potato. Add the potato to the pot as you grate. (I’m not your mom so sorry for the nagging, but be VERY careful of your fingers as you grate! I’ve seen too many kitchen battle scars in my life not to add that caveat, sorry again. I leave a 2″ nubbin of sweet potato for each one I grate. You can chop up the nubbins afterward and throw them in the pot too).

Keep stirring the pot, and chop the broccoli, and cooked sausage if you so desire. Add that to the pot and stir in the salt and pepper to taste.

Grease a 9×13″ pan (who knows what that is in centimeters?) and pour in the semi-cooked concoction.

Beat the eggs and pour it on top, shaking the pan around to get it dispersed evenly. Sprinkle cheese on top if you’d like.

Bake for 22 minutes, or until the egg seems nice and cooked. Take out and cool!

MSR Snowshoes Review – Why I’m a Diehard Fan

Snowshoeing with a furry friend in Cheakamus Canyon, Whistler B.C.

Snowshoeing with a furry friend in Cheakamus Canyon, Whistler B.C.

Well, hiking season is winding down, sadly. But on the bright side, that means snowshoe season is on its way!

I’m not so into skiing of snowboarding, even though the “cool factor” for those sports may be higher than snowshoeing. But I’m an avid snowshoe fan!

If you haven’t snowshoed before, you’re in for a treat. Snowshoeing is pretty much like hiking, except your “hiking shoes” are extremely big and clunky. :) It takes some getting used to, and you may trip over your snowshoes a few times at first. But after a few minutes you’ll be clomping along just fine.

And it’s so much fun to hike through the snow! The best scenario is when you snowshoe on a sunny day with fresh, fluffy snow. It’s like being a kid again, squishing through the fresh white landscape. Or if you come across a well-traveled trail, try bum-sliding down a hill! Just be sure the end of the slope doesn’t take you off-trail (or worse yet down the mountainside).

This brings me to why I adore my snowshoes, which are Women’s MSR Ascents. I’ve tried a wide variety of snowshoes, but I haven’t found any snowshoes that can match MSRs for versatility, useability, and grip.

The key with MSR Ascents are that they have a unique metal frame around the edges, with lots of grippy teeth, as you can see in this photo:

Mine are a slightly older model of these

Mine are a slightly older model of these

Other snowshoes have metal tubing for a frame, which are lightweight, but don’t have any grip. The only teeth are in the center of the snowshoe, which makes it harder to trust that your foot will stick when you place it on a slippery, icy patch of snow.

Ascents also have easy to use bindings to strap in your boots, and heel lifts. If you’re thinking of getting a pair of snowshoes that don’t have heel lifts — believe me, it’s worth the extra $$ to get a pair with heel lifts! They make those uphill slogs much more pleasant.IMG_0177

My MSRs work great, whether I’m frolicking through fresh powder, or across icy stuff. And believe me, I’ve tested these puppies. My friend V and I once got stranded on the backside of a mountain after sliding off-trail. We had to literally climb back out, kicking out footholds for our feet with our snowshoes! I was very grateful for MSR’s extra grip.

I honestly can’t think of any downside to MSR snowshoes. Perhaps it could be nice if they somehow included a hot chocolate dispenser feature. But MSRs are lightweight, perform great, and include special snowshoes designed for women or those with narrower gaits. Plus, MSR hails from my hometown in Seattle, Washington :)

Whatever snowshoes you end up with, I hope you’ll get a chance to get out to the mountains this winter! (And my sympathies to those that don’t live near any snowy mountains).. Just remember to stay safe. Stay on trail, be prepared for the elements, bring a map and emergency numbers, and hike with others!

Happy hiking,

Tiffany

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cover-Easy-Hiking-RecipesP.S.: Check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes for more flavor ideas to spice up your meals this winter!

Garlicky Basil Hummus

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I love hummus! It’s the perfect dip for chips or raw veggies. It’s so easy and cheap to make, compared to the store-bought variety. And you can ad-lib to make your own flavor combinations that taste way better! Here’s one simple version that tastes great if you like garlic. But be warned: you will have garlic breath after eating this!

Ingredients

1 15-oz. cans of chickpeas (I like Eden Organic variety)

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup tahini

5 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup fresh basil, minced

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender and whir away until smooth. Add water if needed.

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cover-Easy-Hiking-RecipesAnd check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes for more flavor ideas to spice up your hummus and other hiking food!

Recipe: Chinese Tea Eggs

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These cute little marbled eggs are a great mid-morning snack. The addition of tea and spices adds some excitement to otherwise plain boiled eggs.

Ingredients

6-12 eggs

3 heaping tablespoons of loose leaf Chai tea (plain black tea works as well, but I like the spices in Chai tea)

Additional optional ingredients:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Place eggs in a pot and add enough water so that they’re entirely covered. Bring to a boil on medium-high, but be careful not to bring the water to a boil too quickly, or the eggs will crack and start leaking. Once the water reaches a boil, turn it to low and cover the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the eggs from the burner.

Fish the eggs out with a spoon. Using the back of the spoon, tap them lightly to crack them all over. Don’t whack them so hard that the shells fall off, but hit them enough so that distinct cracks are visible. Place the eggs back in the pot of hot water, along with the tea and other optional ingredients.

Cover and simmer for one hour. Again, fish the eggs out with a spoon. I refrigerate them in their shells, but for hiking trips I peel them beforehand to save time.

You can also season them with a little salt or soy sauce. Save a few packets of salt or soy sauce the next time you order food to go, or use a refillable mini soy sauce bottle.

Pack the shelled eggs in a plastic bag or food container. Bring a thermos of black tea to go with your tea eggs, and you’re set for tea time on the mountain top!

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Tea time! Tea eggs, homemade almond milk Chai, and sesame honey glazed roasted almonds (check out my almond recipe here).

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cover-Easy-Hiking-RecipesAnd now a word from your sponsor:

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Veronique’s Trail Mix Cookies

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My friend Veronique and I met while snowshoeing the Grouse Mountain Snowshoe Grind in Vancouver one winter. Hooray for making friends on the trail!

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Here is V’s recipe for yummy energy cookies made with cereal and oats! Don’t they look delicious? In the photos, she included dried cranberries, shredded coconut, and sunflower seeds. This recipe makes about 12-16 cookies, depending on size.

V’s Energy Cookies

1 cup Müslix cereal or other granola type of cereal. V says, “Sometimes I use the Kashi Blueberry Oat Clusters & Flakes cereal for a change”

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder (7 ml)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (5 ml)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter

1 mashed banana

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk (30 ml)

2 teaspoons vanilla (10 ml)

3 tablespoons honey (45 ml)

In a large bowl, combine cereal, oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, mix the margarine, banana, egg, milk, vanilla and honey. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well.

Divide the dough into cookies on a nonstick baking sheet and flatten cookies with a fork.

Bake at 350F (180C) for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add-in Options:

  • Chopped nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dried cranberries
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chocolate chips
  • Raisins
  • Cocoa powder
  • Matcha green tea powder

vcookie2

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cover-Easy-Hiking-RecipesAnd now a word from your sponsor:

Check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes for more recipes like this!

Sesame Honey-Glazed Roasted Almonds

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I could write a whole book on roasting nuts! Hmm maybe I should.. :) At any rate, here’s one of the easiest, yummiest ways to roast almonds! Sesame honey roasted almonds combine the sweetness of the honey and the savory quality of toasted sesame seeds for a gourmet trailside treat.

Ingredients

1 cup raw almonds

2-3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

a couple drops toasted sesame oil

Sea salt

Preheat your oven to 320 degrees F. In a bowl, toss the almonds until they’re generously coated in honey. Add a couple drops of sesame oil and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle sesame seeds and sea salt until the nuts are evenly coated.

Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet (I use a piece of foil to minimize mess). Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring half-way through. Be sure to watch the nuts carefully and taste test them every few minutes to make sure they’re not burning! The honey should turn a rich reddish brown; if it starts to turn black or dark brown, it’s getting overdone.

I like my roasted almonds on the sweet side, rather than super toasty, so I take them out after just 10 minutes. Transfer them to wax paper or a separate plate to cool (otherwise they’ll stick to the foil as they harden). Then try not to scarf them all up at once!

 

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cover-Easy-Hiking-RecipesAnd now a word from your sponsor:

Check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes for more recipes like this!

Discount for my readers: 10% off products at BLICARD.com including Belay Shades for Rock Climbers!

All climbers are gear nerds by default. Hiking involves gear too, but in climbing you have no option but to know your gear well, since the that knowledge may literally save your life! Because of this, we embrace our inner nerdiness and geek out on everything from cams to anchors to ropes. :)

Climbing and eating, two of my favorite things!

Climbing and eating, two of my favorite things! (That’s peanut butter chocolate granola bars from my recipe book, and a bunch of cams and nuts for climbing)

For those who don’t know what belay glasses are, here’s the quick back-story:

  • When you climb, a friend must hold the rope so they can catch you on the rope if you fall. This is called belaying.
  • When you belay, you’re staring up at your friend for extended periods of time. After a whole day of climbing, it can feel like a really looooong time.
  • This can lead to chronic neck pain, otherwise known as “belayer’s neck”.
  • Belay glasses have prisms which allow you to belay while looking straight ahead, instead of up.

The most common belay glasses brand runs $120, so I just made do with neck pain all this time. But now there’s a $45 option available at Blicard.com!

Belay Shades really save my neck, especially for casual climbs and gym climbing which I primarily use them for. And whenever I belay with them, I always get comments on how cool they are :)  (32.7% of conversation amongst climbers revolves around gear talk; the rest is about routes we’ve done or want to do, beta on routes we’ve done, and current injuries we’re nursing. Oh and rumors about new climbing areas).

Here’s a special discount just for my readers! Enter coupon code “EasyHiking” during checkout to get 10% off your entire order, including other product in the shop.

Check it out at BLICARD.com.

Happy climbing!

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And as always, check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes here.

Chronicles of a Water Bottle Obsession

I have a slight obsession with water bottles, to the point that at one time I seriously contemplated starting a water bottle company. What’s not to like about water bottles?

  • They’re useful, so you never have to go thirsty, even when you’re driving or in the bathroom
  • They’re eco-friendly, except when you start to amass a large number of them (err, I may be guilty of that)
  • They’re a fashion statement, so you can say “Look at me, I’m eco-friendly, sporty, and I like [insert name of athletic company logo sticker you put on your bottle]

I think the water bottle craze started about the time I was in undergrad. I noticed all of my fellow classmates were carrying around “Nalgenes” wherever they went. A few of my friend were determined to break their Nalgene, because the company claimed they were indestructable. I joined the trend and started enjoying having a re-useable bottle. And this was way before I even knew what hiking was all about.

Since then, I’ve accumulated metal water bottles, flexible water bladders or “hydration packs, flip cap bottles, bottles with straws, and more. So when the company Zojirushi sent me a water bottle to review, I was thrilled! I already love Zojirushi because they make top quality hot water dispensers for making tea.

Here’s the bottle they sent me:

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Testing it out at the rock crags – Forgotten Wall in Cheakamus Canyon

Their Stainless Steel 16oz. water bottle is like the Cadillac of water bottles. It has more bells and whistles than most bottles, and the  giant instruction manual that came with the bottle was a little intimidating at first. But after a few minutes I got to know the basic features: In addition to a push-button flip cap, a locking lid, and a controlled pour so water doesn’t spill all over your face if you tip it too fast, this bottle is double-walled, so water stays cold for hours. Plus, the lid locks in the open position, so it doesn’t bonk against  your nose when you drink! Seems like the designers thought of everything.

I took this bottle on some hot summer day hikes, and my favorite feature on the bottle is the double walled insulation. It really works, and the water tasted so much better than the lukewarm water in the other bottle I was carrying. The locking lid is also handy, but it’d be nice if there was a color indicator so I could easily tell whether it was locked or unlocked. I could also use a bottle with a tad larger capacity, but perhaps it was designed with the Japanese audience in mind, since Zojirushi is based in Japan. :)

The Verdict: This is my new go-to bottle for shorter hikes and gym trips! Since it weighs a little more than bare bones bottles and has a smaller capacity, I probably won’t take it on heavy duty hikes, but I really love the extra fancy features for everyday use. It’s not often I get excited by new water bottle features, but this time I definitely swooned a bit!

Enjoying nice cold water at Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver, BC

Enjoying nice cold water at Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver, BC

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Check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes: Simple Meal Ideas for Day Hikes and Other Outdoor Adventures!

The Rest of the Story

This past weekend I went hiking to Garibaldi Lake in beautiful British Columbia. On Monday I glanced up at a wall calendar, which shows beautiful pictures from places all over Canada. For this month, the photo happened to be…Garibaldi Lake! I can see why; it has some truly breath taking views. Here are a few of my pics, though I’m not sure if they’re calendar-worthy:

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The water is really that blue! It’s from glacial sediment known as “rock flour”.

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I’m always a sucker for wild flowers!

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There’s where all the “rock flour” came from :)

However, those pics only show part of the story. We always take photos of the view at the top of the mountain, but not so much of the sweat and work that it took to get there. I’m already forgetting all of the flies that swarmed and bit me on the way up, and the thunderstorm we got caught in on our way to the lake, the blister on my foot, and all of the pain I put my legs through.

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(Don’t cut an emergency blanket to make a rain poncho; it just rips :) )

Memory is a funny thing. Like a photo album, we curate it by what we choose to remember. But perhaps it is good to try maintaining a balance, not only seeing the past through rose colored glasses, but also honoring all of the effort and challenges you went through to make it to those beautiful places. And not only remembering painful times for the misery you went through, but also recognizing all of the good and indirect blessings that might have come from them.

One thing I will remember: always bring a rain jacket on hikes around Vancouver, even in the middle of summer!

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ps – if interested, check out my e-book Easy Hiking Recipes: Simple Meal Ideas for Day Hikes and Other Outdoor Adventures!

Smoothie King Cocoa Cashew Smoothie

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Smoothies make great breakfast drinks or post-hike refreshers. Add a scoop of protein powder as well, to encourage your muscles to rebuild after an intense day.

Joe Wong, founder of the Vancouver Rock Climbing Group and the awesome nonprofit group Climb and Conquer, is also known for making great smoothies. In 2012 he won the smoothie competition at a local organic market, forever crowning him The Smoothie King! Here’s the smoothie he enjoys every morning:

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened soymilk

½ cup raw cashews

1 cup frozen mixed berries

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Tiffany’s Smoothie King Inspired Banana Shake

I started making this smoothie after being inspired by Joe’s recipe:

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 banana

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

It’s like a chocolate shake, without all the guilt!

The Berry Version

The Berry Version

The banana-peanut butter version

The banana-peanut butter version

 

As always, check out more great recipes in my Kindle ebook Easy Hiking Recipes :)