Fun In The Sun – Costa Rica

I hope you don’t mind me taking a small break from posting a healthy recipe or fitness tip (other than the reminder of this post on how to stay fit while on vacation), but I just got back from Costa Rica and I’m dying to tell you all about it!  Beau and I decided that we needed a vacation and a break from life (who doesn’t every once in a while?).  We had some good friends (practically family) who also wanted to vacation so we started scheming of a place we would all want to go together.  Costa Rica ended up being the chosen destination!  It was a beautiful place to visit, the people were incredibly friendly, and the weather was AWESOME!  I’ll take you on a tour of what we did and saw.  Ready?

First of all, you should know that my handsome husband speaks Spanish fluently.  When he was in grade school he elected to go through the Spanish Immersion program and he’s been speaking the language ever since he was young.  Thus, going to Spanish-speaking countries is often a desirable location for us.  I tell you this because without this incredible skill, I probably wouldn’t agree to do some of the things we did.  There’s a sense of safety in knowing that Beau can get us around town just by knowing the language.  SO . . . That being said, we thought it would be cool to enjoy some local culture.  There was a festival (somewhat similar to our town celebrations we have here) going on in Libera so we decided to attend.  We went to the Rodeo first.  They ride bulls bareback, but then the crazy part is that they allow the locals to hang out in the arena and be chased by the bulls once the rider is bucked off.  We later found out that the more people who get injured by the bulls, the greater the festival is rated.  Crazy!

Here we are at the Libera Rodeo with our great friends Carl & Kelli.

Here are the brave locals being chased by a bull. You can see there are A LOT of brave souls in there!

After the rodeo, the streets were blocked off and there was a horse parade.  Being horse people, we were interested in seeing this.  We ate dinner up on a balcony that overlooked the parade route and started to watch.  It got dark, so it was hard to get good pictures, but there were a lot of horses and the parade lasted for over an hour.

The beginning of the horse parade. There were over 1,200 horses.

Being so close to Nicaragua, we thought it might be cool to see another country while we were there.  So, we took an entire day to see some incredible sights in Nicaragua.  We were VERY impressed with the beauty of this country  and felt very safe there (considering it has a “scary” reputation).

We visited Granada.  Founded in 1524 by the Spanish conquistadors, Granada represents an elegant and historical city in Nicaragua.

Granda had pristine architecture. This is an old church building.

We then transitioned to a boat ride in Lake Nicaragua where we discovered some of the 365 small islands created by an eruption of the nearby Mombacho volcano years ago.  We also saw monkeys in the trees while we were out-and-about.

This is one of those small islands and you'll notice that people buy the real estate and actually build on the island. Some people use them for vacation homes and some people actually live there year-round.

Next we went and actually saw an active volcano! There was no lava to be seen, but it was hot and smoky.

This was taken at the top of a lookout & you can see the crater as well as the smoke coming up from behind us. It also had a STRONG sulpher smell.

We also visited the city of Masaya which we all really enjoyed.  We ate lunch there, met a few locals (who were SO nice), and did a little shopping.

To wrap up our trip to Nicaragua, we stopped to see the Apoyo Lagoon.  This is an old crater that is now filled with warm water.  As you can see, it is beautiful!

Laguna de Apoyo

Now, let’s head back to Costa Rica!  There’s fun stuff to see/do there.

We visited one of the largest, most famous waterfalls in GuanacasteWe were able to swim in the water, walk behind the falls, and I honestly felt like I was on a movie or something.  We happened to see some spotted owls and Jesus Christ Lizards here (they got that name because they can walk/run across the water).

We traveled into more of the rainforest to experience a zip-line.  We heard that it is practically unspeakable to think about going to Costa Rica without doing a zip-line.  We understand why!  We hiked through the rainforest for a while (seeing butterflies in colors I’ve never seen before, lizards, monkeys, birds, and agouti).  We then jumped on a zip-line comprised of 11 cable-to-cable jumps.  It was BEAUTIFUL and SO much fun!

Here I go! Check out all that greenery!

Yep! That's right! I went upside down! Whooohoooo!

They had one section where there were two cables side-by-side so Beau & I could go together. The picture is a little blurry, but it's still fun (at least I think so).

After we hiked and played at the zip-line we went to Volcan Miravalles, known for its sulfur springs, fumaroles and bubbling mud pots.  It sits 6,653 feet high and is the highest peak of the Guanacaste Mountains.  We took a mud bath, sat in some warm springs, and even when down a water slide that used the sulfer spring water.  It was a GREAT way to end the day because it was so relaxing.  Oh, and I must mention that we saw Toucan Sam while we were here.  Maybe it wasn’t Sam, but it definitely was a Toucan bird!

Here I come down the water slide.

Here we sit and soak in the relaxation of the warm spring water.

We ended up staying about a half mile off of the beach (Playa Hermosa).  We could walk there within 5-7 minutes.  There were also several beaches that were within about 5-10 minutes (driving time).  We visited Coco Beach in addition to the beach right off of our villa.  We stopped at fruit stands to buy local fruit (melon and pineapple are in season right now).  We also tried the local cuisine which consisted mostly of rice, beans, and plantains (pretty healthy, right?).

I’ll leave you with a few images that we were able to capture while there.  You can’t leave Costa Rica without seeing the monkeys or without seeing a gorgeous sunset!

Beau tried to get as close as he could to this monkey. He kept inching closer and closer and finally the monkey looked at him with big eyes, and quickly turned around and ran back up the tree. It was so cute!

We found a family of monkeys in the trees down on Play Hermosa. We found them because they are Howler Monkeys and they were howling. We heard them, looked up, and there they were. There were even baby monkeys! This one cracked me up because he was dead asleep, all sprawled out on this branch. They were SUPER fun to watch!

Here is a Sunset on the beach. Not bad, eh?

I took this picture just a minute or so after the one above. The sky went completely orange. It was muy bonito!

I’m already missing the warm weather, but I’m happy I had the chance to explore a new place and to have had the opportunity to go!

Hasta Luego, Costa Rica!

Pomegranate & Apple Winter Salad With Creamy Pomegranate Dressing

This salad is soooooooo perfect for holiday parties.  It’s also sooooooo perfect for winter time.  This looks so festive and tastes so yummy too!  I first made this for Thanksgiving dinner and we’ve had it a couple of times since then.  The only ingredients that are sacred to the recipe are the apples and pomegranate arils/seeds.  After that you can totally play with the vegetables that you might enjoy in the salad.  I LOVE the sweetness and crunch that the fruit offer to this salad.  The apples and the pomegranate really compliment each other and you’ll be delighted how the tart meets the sweet.  The dressing is a cinch to throw together and it continues to highlight the star ingredients.

If you’re looking for a healthy and delicious side to take to your next party, you ought to consider this one!  If you’re just looking for something to change things up at home, this may be your ticket too.  If you want to turn this into a full meal, you can easily add chicken to your salad with great success!  Enjoy!

Pomegranate & Apple Winter Salad
With Creamy Pomegranate Dressing

Mimi Original

3 cups mixed greens (I used romaine)
1 medium apple, diced (I used honey crisp)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced cucumber

Dressing:
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt

To prepare salad, place greens in a serving bowl.  Pour lemon juice over chopped apple and stir to coat (this helps to prevent the apple from browning).  Top greens with apple, pomegranate seeds, and remaining vegetables.

To prepare dressing, combine juice and next 5 ingredients a small bowl; stir well with whisk.  (You can also put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.)

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information – Salad Only (Per Serving = 1/6 of Recipe)
Calories:  56.2
Protein:  1.5g
Carbs:  12.8g
Fat:  0.6g (0g = Sat.)
Fiber:  2.9g
Sugars:  7.8g

Nutritional Information – Salad & Dressing (Per Serving = 1/6 of Recipe)
Calories:  101.6
Protein:  1.6g
Carbs:  17.3g
Fat:  3.7g (0.4g = Sat.)
Fiber:  2.9g
Sugars:  11.7g

 

Hoping to Adopt

Today I am posting a slightly different post.  If you’re wondering
where the recipe is for today, well . . . there will be one tomorrow.  So,
don’t forget to stop by again this week to grab it!  However, I thought
you might be interested to hear a bit of my good news today!

Beau and I have been diligently working on the opportunity to adopt.  Well (drum roll please!). . . . . . we have officially been approved and are hoping to adopt a sweet little baby.  We are excited and anxiously waiting for the next stage of actually being selected as an adoptive family!

As uncomfortable as it is to talk about ourselves, we know that it helps for others to know what we are doing.  As you are located in different places around the world, many of you will have opportunities to be in contact with circles of friends that you might be able to share our information with.  If you know of anyone looking to place a baby, please keep us in mind.  Even if there is no one currently in your mind that is looking for an adoptive family, please continue to keep us in mind for future reference.  We cannot wait to provide a great home and life for children.

The road to get to this point has had its ups and downs, but we cannot be happier that it led us to this juncture!  Adoption is such a wonderful opportunity that we are excited to be a part of.   Thank you for letting me share a piece of it with you!

Ham, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sammy

When I have time, I love to whip me up something different for breakfast and this is one of the things I love to make.  I love ham and eggs together and when I can indulge with a little cheese, I love it even more!  This sammy makes for a comforting breakfast and I often times wish I have more time most mornings so I can eat one of these more regularly.  You can easily adapt the protein content that you personally need by adding or reducing the amount of eggs you use.  You can also reduce the cheese amount if you’re watching your fat intake.  (Speaking of the cheese, because I know that reduced fat cheese isn’t the easiest to come by . . . Costco currently has a pack of reduced fat cheese slices that you can buy.  It’s even a variety pack so you end up with options.  Yay!)   So, make it the way you know you should eat it, but be sure to enjoy every bite along the way!

Ham, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sammy
Adapted slightly from  Bill Philips, “Eating For Life”

1 whole egg
2 egg whites
2 tablespoon skim milk
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 slices whole-wheat bread (such as Sara Lee Delightful)
1 slice lean ham
1 slice reduced-fat cheddar cheese (see note in my text above)

Lightly coat a small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, egg whites, skim milk, and black pepper.  Pour egg mixture into skillet and stir (scramble) until set.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Lightly respray the skillet and add one slice of bread.  Layer with ham, cooked eggs and cheese.  Top with remaining bread slice.

Cook over medium heat until bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Turn and cook for another 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.  (I often times take the lid to my skillet and cover the Sammy because the heat gets trapped inside and melts the cheese better.)

Serves 1.

Nutritional Information Per Sammy
Calories:  304.7
Protein:  33g
Carbs:  19.8g
Fat:  12.2g (5.2g = Sat.)
Fiber:  5g
Sugars:  3.4g

Nutritional Information Per Sammy (If only using 1 whole egg)
Calories:  270.7
Protein:  25g
Carbs:  19.8g
Fat:  12.2g (5.2g = Sat.)
Fiber:  5g
Sugars:  3.4g

Live From Hawaii

ALOHA!!!

So, you will notice that there will be a slight slow down in recipe posts this week.  I’m blaming it all on my awesome vacation to Hawaii!!  I’ve been having so much fun basking in the sun, playing in the ocean, spending time with my family, and visiting some of my favorite hot spots on Oahu.  I suppose you might understand why I haven’t gotten around to the usual recipe posts this week.  Everyone deserves a vacation, right!?  Among several fun things I’ve been doing, I’m boogie boarding with my nephew Nic (he’s my little buddy here on this trip) in the picture above.  We tried to catch as many waves together as we possibly could – and did so with GREAT success!  After catching dozens of waves, we both decided we were worn out and would try to catch one more.  With it being our last one of the day we both agreed that it HAD to be a good one.  So, we waited for the perfect wave and, as luck would have it, we didn’t catch that wave . . . it caught us!  It sucked us both under, sent our boogie boards flying in the air, and we tumbled under the water for a few seconds before we could find which way was up.  That’s what we got for wanting to end the day on a HIGH note (or should I say a high wave?)!  Don’t worry!  We didn’t allow ourselves to go out like that and we did eventually catch a good wave back into shore.

Waiting for the Perfect Wave

Of course, that is just part of my adventure here on the island of Hawaii.  Stay tuned as I plan to share more details (especially as it relates to nutrition and fitness) in a later post.

Until then . . . keep eating right and get your exercise in!  I’ll be dreaming of you all as I spend my last few days in paradise.

Hugs to you all!
~Mimi

Fresh Start to Healthy Eating

I’ve been talking about starting this healthy cooking blog for a long time, and now I am FINALLY doing it!  I dare say that I am somewhat of a “food snob” and I really appreciate good-tasting food.  I am also a health, nutrition, and fitness fanatic.  In many people’s eyes….there is NO WAY that these two worlds can happily combine.  Well, I beg to differ!  I am constantly finding new and healthy dishes to throw on my kitchen table and  I am super excited to start sharing them with you!!

Because calories and macronutrient levels (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) are important to me, I will be sure to include such information with each and every recipe.  Because we all require different calories and macro-nutrient levels to run at our very best, I will usually provide recipes that you can adjust according to your nutritional needs.  If you know you need more/less protein or carbohydrates for a meal, then you can adjust the recipe accordingly.  If you’re not sure what you should be eating. . .well, hop on over to my About Me page, or my Lose Weight/Get Fit page for more information. There is even a FREE GIVEAWAY listed on these informative pages.  Who does that right out of the blogging shoot?  I do!

So. . .bookmark the blog, subscribe to the blog in the right-hand column, and get ready for a many delicious recipes to come.  And, feel free to share the blog with those you love.  After all, couldn’t we all use some more HEALTHY recipes.

Here’s to helping you along your healthy journey!

~Mimi

P.S.  May I beg you to be patient with the logistics of the blog?  This isn’t exactly how I envisioned the blog looking, but I continue to be begged for my recipes and I figure that it’s better to get this thing going so you all can start getting the recipes, regardless of how perfect I think it is.  That being said, we may experience a few changes together over the next few months (hopefully more than just blog changes, right!?).