Monday, July 26, 2010

Meatless Monday: Quinoa Edition

So first in what will hopefully become a series of Meatless Monday posts is my discussion of quinoa. After some Internet research and discovery of Forvo, the pronunciation dictionary, I learned that it is pronounced KEEN-wah.

I first heard about quinoa on a blog (I almost feel like that should be a given), and for whatever reason I wanted to try it. Again, I'm late to the party. Apparently, "it has been an important food for 6,000 years" in South America. At least someone on Wikipedia thinks so. It's a winner because it is high in protein (it's considered a "complete protein"), dietary fiber, phosphorus, lysine, methionine, cystine, magnesium, and iron. Did I mention that it is also gluten-free?

I picked up about 1 1/4 cup of quinoa in the Whole Foods dry goods section (not sure if that's what it's really called, but it was on the aisle with the self-serve grains/beans/dried soup mixes/etc.) for a couple bucks.

These are teensy tiny seeds you're dealing with here, so it was somewhat difficult to wash them per Whole Foods' instructions. I do not have a strainer with teensier tinier holes, so I attempted to rinse them in my 1/4 measuring cup. That turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, so I ended up just plopping them all down in my sauce pan. I only saw one black thing floating around in the water, and I was able to get it out. Conclusion: I think you can skip the washing step if you don't have a strainer with holes that are teensier tinier than quinoa.

Cooking the stuff couldn't have been more easy. You bring water to a boil, turn it down to medium heat, and let it bubble for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Draining the water, again, was hard. I did the best I could with my wooden spoon against the side of the pan. Next time I might try using my rice cooker or I might invest in a strainer with teensier tinier holes...but probably not. It turned okay the way I did it.

It had the fluffiness of rice, but with what people describe as a "nutty" flavor.  I added a frozen vegetable mix to mine, and voila! Lunch was ready.

I will definitely be making some again because I have a lot of it left over, but I won't be adding this particular veggie mix...after one bite of cauliflower I remembered how much I detest it. But really, the possibilities are endless if you just think about using quinoa in place of rice. I'm thinking it'd be good with a yummy stir fry. Mmm.

Meatless Monday: Introduction

About nine months ago or so, I decided that I would try something new regarding my diet. I'd just read a blog that talked about how one man's family was abstaining from meat on Thursdays. I really don't remember his reasoning, but I thought it was a good idea. Since I like alliteration though, I thought it'd be cool to do it on Mondays and call it "Meatless Monday." (Little did I know that I was definitely not the one to coin this phrase. According to, "Meatless Monday was recreated as [a] public health awareness program in association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future" in 2003.)

I have a few reasons for wanting to go meatless at least one day a week:
  1. I believe that Section 89 of the Doctrine & Covenants, which we call the Word of Wisdom, was a revelation from God. Verse 12 states, "Yea, aflesh also of bbeasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used csparingly."  I've had the goal of only eating red meat twice per month for several years now and stuck to it pretty well, but I wanted to do something more to observe this commandment.
  2. I want to be healthier. I want to reduce my risk of preventable disease. "Eating more fruits and veggies" has literally been on my list of new year's resolutions for the last 10+ years, and I'm happy to report that I've made A LOT of progress in this area in the last three years or so. I'm not quite where I want to be, but Meatless Monday helps me to explore new things and to focus on this goal more.
  3. It's a simple way to reduce my carbon footprint. 
That quite lengthy introduction was all to say that I will be posting Meatless Monday ideas on the blog from time to time. Stay tuned. =)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Glenwood Caverns

The first three days of our Colorado vacation were on the rainy and cold side, so once the sun came out, we knew we wanted to get right to some of the fun outdoor things we had planned.

One of the first places we visited was Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. It is located in Glenwood Springs, CO, which was about an hour's drive west of our timeshare.

In order to get to the park and go on the cave tours, you have to ride the tramway up Iron Mountain.

Here's Dad and Mom in our cable car.

My mom, Henry, and I knew we wanted to do the cave tours, but we weren't sure about any of the rides. (My dad has very bad knees, so he knew doing a 90-minute cave walking tour wouldn't be fun for him. He stayed under a tent and read a book instead.)

Once we got to the top, Henry and I saw the alpine coaster and wanted to do it. I'm glad we did. It was definitely pricey; it cost us $18 to ride it one time, but you only live (and possibly only visit Colorado) once, right? Now I can say I rode the first alpine coaster in the United States and had fun doing it.

Is this view beautiful or what?
You get to ride in individually-controlled cars on the alpine coaster, and Henry thoroughly enjoyed pushing us full-speed ahead.

The walking cave tour was good too. We got to see lots of impressive cave formations--cave bacon, soda straws, popcorn, and huge cave rooms with old stalagmites and stalactites. Pretty cool.

 King's Row cave room

Just an aside: there was a cute Chinese family on our cave tour, so Henry surprised them by asking them in Mandarin if they wanted their picture taken. I like it when he gets to practice Mandarin.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I know some of you followed along as I wrote my Master's report and finished graduate school, but those who are newer to my blog might need a little background. I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP; man, it feels good to say that), and in order to become an SLP, you have to obtain a Masters degree. That's not all though. Once you have your Masters, you have to complete an internship of sorts. It's called a Clinical Fellowship (CF) in the world of speech-language pathology. It must be a minimum of 36 weeks, you have to work a minimum of 35 hours per week, and you have to obtain a minimum of 1,260 clinical hours to complete your CF. Once you've completed your CF, you can apply for full state licensure (rather than an intern license) and national certification (your "C's" in SLP speak).

I became painfully aware of those required 1,260 hours last week when I received a letter notifying me that my CF came to a grand total of 1,258 hours. I did, in fact, work way more than the minimum requirements; we just filled out a portion of the application forms incorrectly. After much fretting from me and my wonderful CF supervisor (I honestly couldn't have handpicked a better supervisor for this experience), we finally got it straightened out yesterday, and today I am certified!

And I am SO excited! I honestly didn't expect to be quite so happy about it, but when my case manager told me he approved me this morning, I jumped up and down. It's been a long time coming, made sweeter by the hiccups I've experienced along the way. I feel so thankful.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Whitewater Rafting in Frisco

I've spent a good amount of time today trying to organize and group our vacation pictures, and I can't help but wonder WHY we took so many! It's a bit overwhelming now, but I'm sure once I start really looking through them and editing, I'll be glad we have them. I've already stumbled across a few that make my heart go pitter patter.

Since I haven't edited any of our own personal photos yet, I thought I'd make it easy on myself and write about our whitewater rafting trip. It happened to be one of my favorite things we did on this vacation, and we bought the action shots from the rafting company, meaning I don't have to edit anything just yet.

So let's begin, shall we?

Our friend Bill {one of Henry's former roommates, piano-playin' singles ward compadre who once rode his bike from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska!} drove over from Boulder to meet us in Frisco, CO for our little whitewater rafting expedition.

We chose the Blue River Half Day Trip for its moderate II-III class rating. We didn't want anything too scary for my mom or for me. It was definitely a good choice for our first ever whitewater rafting experience. Definitely not boring, but I wasn't scared either...except for beforehand when they were going over all of the safety measures and made it sound inevitable that someone would go a'swimming on our trip. Mom and I were about ready to back out then. But once we got in the water and started rowing, I thought it was awesome.

Here we are pre-safety talk. Bill said I looked prepared for any number of outdoor adventures.

Enjoying some beautiful scenery...

Now we're getting to the good stuff. You'll notice that in this picture our guide, Ben, is flying up in the air. That wasn't supposed to happen, but isn't it cool that they caught it on camera?

And here he is coming back down into the raft where seconds later he'll collide with my lower back. My mom thought I was falling out of the raft. It all happened so fast I had no idea what was going on. They tell you before the trip to tuck your feet into the sides of the raft, and after Ben fell on me, half of my leg was up in the raft. I felt reeeally safe then.

And here's our group back on land. No swimmers here.

This reminds me of my least favorite part of the experience: having to wear a smelly, already wet and therefore cold wetsuit and a pair of nasty, wet water shoes. It wasn't that uncomfortable, but it really grossed me out. So, if you ever go whitewater rafting, hit up Academy beforehand for some cheap water shoes...just in case. My mom was very happy she did.

After our very exciting whitewater rafting adventure we said goodbye to Bill and headed across the street to the weirdest A&W chain I've ever seen. Upon first glance it just seemed kitschy. After we had ordered I noticed the religious pamphlets on Messianic Judaism next to the cash register {one caught my eye because it mentioned UT Austin}. Then I noticed the Psalm 1 {if I remember correctly} wood carvings above the doorways, and the scripture out on the marquee. The playing of the national anthem while we were dining was really just the icing on the cake. I placed my hand over my heart and had to laugh as I saw an older gentleman doing the same across the room.

I'm not the only one who delighted in discovering this gem; you can read the articles Fast-Food Salvation and Thank God for Root Beer Floats {like that a lot}. On the more serious side, you can also read about how the Bible references were taken down for a little while.

So, the moral of this story is...if ever you should find yourself in Frisco, CO, you might want to check out a Performance Tours rafting trip, and you definitely want to check out the divine A&W. Because God so loved the world, He gave us Jesus, ice cream, fish, and curds. Yes. Yes, He did.