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!

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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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.

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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!

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 🙂

Fruit-Infused Water

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While I’m on the subject of water, this is another simple way to add a little flavor to your water bottle. Simply chop up some fruit, add it to a pitcher with some water, and refrigerate it overnight! In the morning, strain out the fruit and pour the water into your bottle.

The resulting infusion will have a pleasant sweetness and fruity flavor, which will encourage you to drink more water and stay hydrated – particularly important during these hot summer months. It’ll also be more hydrating than pure juice, since juice is essentially a food suspended in water.

Chop the fruits well to allow a lot of surface area for the juice to infuse the water. If you’re making a fruit salad for your day hike the next day, it’ll be super easy, since you’re already chopping up fruit 🙂 In the photo above, I also added a teabag of DoMatcha’s Organic Tencha Green to the pitcher, and cold-brewed the tea along with the fruit overnight.

Fruits that infuse well include:

  • Apricots
  • Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  • Kiwis
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Lychee
  • Mangoes
  • Melon – watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple

You can also add fresh mint or other herbs. Bruise them first by rolling them in your hands or smooshing them on a plate with the back of a spoon, to break up the leaf cells and release their fragrant oils.

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Check out more easy recipes in my Kindle ebook Easy Hiking Recipes.

What Reading and Hiking Have in Common

Discovering new vistas on the Diez Vistas trail in Vancouver

Discovering new vistas on the Diez Vistas trail in Vancouver

I was a major nerd in school. What am I saying; I still am a nerd! 🙂 But I was a bonafide bookworm all through junior high and high school. I read everything, from Nancy Drew to cheesy historical romances, to Dostoyevsky, to daily newspapers, to sci-fi. I particularly loved reading fantasy novels, and almost exclusively read fiction.

In college I continued to read, but textbook reading tended to take precedence over reading for pleasure. Then when I got out of school, I gave into the trend of reading non-fiction to “better” myself. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s this idea that non-fiction is somehow fiction is a “waste of time” because it’s purely for entertainment, rather than non-fiction which is for educational purposes (like, cooking for instance ;)).

My world was pretty small and boring, but when I read a book, I suddenly escaped to a world of possibilities. I loved nothing better than to escape into a world filled with adventure, where anything could happen.

I love hiking for the same reason. When I was a kid, I found adventures through reading. Then when I discovered hiking (regretfully at the ripe old age of 23), I discovered that I could have adventures in my own life too! I could venture into the unknown, face grueling challenges, and–literally–reach new vistas. This is also the reason I fell in love with martial arts, and rock climbing. To me they are all related.

Writers who dare to dream up a new world have that same sparkle in their eyes as a hiker surveying a new trail to explore. Climbers who tackle a rock crag with 100% focus have the same electric charge radiating from them as a martial artist who is totally engrossed by the form they’re practicing.

Many of our lives are pretty cushy; I know mine is. It’s easy to get lulled into complacency, just going with the flow out of fear or laziness. Hiking keeps the laziness at bay for me.

Life is a great adventure. So put on your hiking boots, or dust off that book you’ve been meaning to read, and join me in discovering some new horizons to explore!

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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!

It’s Alive!

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EasyHikingRecipes

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