Category Archives: Adventure Journal

Hot Day? Cold Soup!

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A few days ago I tried making my first soup out of The Plantpower Way cookbook. I made the cold heirloom tomato soup, since it was both incredibly simple to make and the temperature in Salt Lake has been soaring lately in the 90’s, so anything with “cold” in the title sounds automatically appealing. Ugh. The heat always gets me down, especially when I try to do fun things outside but then end up in a hot, sweaty mess within minutes. This cold soup, however, was just the right thing to finish off another roasting day in the valley: totally quick and totally refreshing!

If you’ve ever had gazpacho, this soup was basically a chunky version. I am hesitant to post the actual recipe here, since it came out of a brand new cookbook. However, the basic idea was to put about 6-7 heirloom tomatoes, celery, cucumber, fresh basil, and fresh mint into a blender/food processor and process until the soup became a lightly chunky gazpacho. So easy!! So if you ever need a simple, light, refreshing, quick dinner, skip the prepackaged stuff and blend up some veggies into a cold soup. You won’t be disappointed! (They also say it is great for your skin, so it’s worth a try).

In other news, I have started my summer job working with the Outdoor Program! Thus far we have been working with a lot of the summer camps that come to campus, mostly just being their belay slaves at the climbing wall. Luckily, I get to go outside tomorrow and take a bunch of young ladies out on a hike up in Big Cottonwood Canyon! Hopefully the mountains will provide a nice outdoor break from the indoor climbing wall, as well as a break from the sweltering heat down in the valley. Also, next week I get to go out on a day-long flyfishing trip! I have never been flyfishing in my entire life, so I really don’t even know how to “lead” a flyfishing trip at all, but it will be an adventurous experience either way. All in all, I can’t complain too much about my summer. If I’m not working (or is it actually playing for pay?) I get to go do fun stuff with Bridger and enjoy all that the SLC area has to offer. Here’s a concluding picture (or two) of Bridger and I on top of Mount Olympus last weekend. It was a hot and sweaty trudge straight uphill, but the view at the top was pretty neat.

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Loose Ends Before Summer

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Alas, I have come back from the tropical paradise of Hawaii. I had a cup of fruit today with pineapple and it just wasn’t the same as the fresh, super sweet and juicy ones we had in Hawaii. Now we are all back with golden tans and ready to finish up our last assignments for our class. Unfortunately, we can’t get away with simply enjoying a 10 day trip to Hawaii for class credit, so we actually have to do academic things like write a paper and even take a quiz *gasp*. However, once this week is over, I officially begin my summer!

Shortly before I left on my trip, my wonderful parents sent me a copy of the new cookbook called The Plantpower Way. It is written by this awesome couple who are raising 4 kids on a plant-based diet, and the husband is actually an ultra endurance athlete who is in peak physical condition. And it’s not really just a cookbook, it’s more of a life book about the plantpower lifestyle. The recipes are mingled with sections on hot topics like getting enough protein and the environmental impact of eating meat, as well as more spiritual mind-body stuff like finding balance in your life. This book is pretty much all you could ever want in a guide to the vegan lifestyle, and it has become my bible.

Which brings me to my summer project: cook my way through The Plantpower Way. Just flipping through the pages makes my mouth water, and I know I have to try all of these fun recipes. The only downfall with the book is that it is most definitely not written for a college student; some of the ingredients don’t fall within a college budget, and a lot of the recipes seem pretty complex and time consuming. I’m hoping that with a little more free time this summer, I will be able to make a bit of a dent in this feast of recipes, though I may have to forgo a summer shopping spree or two in order to save up for my sea vegetables and weird asian ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Nonetheless, it should be a grand culinary adventure!

Last but not least, here’s a few pictures from Hawaii:

DSCN0339  gecko dropped in for breakfastDSCN0398 strangest flower I’ve ever seenDSCN0410 Kilauea smokin awayDSCN0437 the hot babes of our classDSCN0483  sea turtle!DSCN0492  cool beach angleDSCN0516 top of Mauna Kea, tallest peak from base to summit (13,700 ft above sea level)

Also, I never posted about my trip to Zion with Bridger, which we did the week before I left. It was pretty rainy for the most part, but it was also so lovely hanging out in the desert. Here’s a cool picture from the top of Observation Point, which actually looks down upon Angel’s Landing, which is the most famous hike in the park because of its knife-edge ridge and excellent views. We got the better view from Observation Point in my opinion, but we hiked Angel’s Landing the next day for good measure, and it was still an astounding view.

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Pause

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Woohoo! I’m alive!! I have finally come through the other side of an incredibly stressful and completely jam-packed week and a half. I am now a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR), after spending 5 full, consecutive days from Friday-Tuesday practicing how to deal with emergencies or any kind of injury/illness in the outdoors. The course was extremely intensive and required a lot of critical thinking, so I was exhausted by the end of each 10-12 hour day, but then still had to stay up late to do homework for my other normal classes in order to not fall behind. As of today I have now made up the TWO exams that I missed on Monday, and all my work is back up to date. Finally, I have a chance to pause and breathe. And sleep.

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A few vegan things that the WFR taught me included how to pack a full day’s worth of healthy snacks and lunch without relying on Shaw, which should be quite useful next year when I won’t have a meal plan. I went with the ol’ PB&J or AB&J (almond butter) for my lunches, and then brought an assortment of veggies like baby carrots or bell pepper (that I cut up that morning), cashews, apple + PB or AB, and a Bobo’s Oat Bar just in case. I try not to eat a lot of bars since they all have a disheartening amount of sugar, so I didn’t end up resorting to the Bobo’s bar after all. They key to vegan snacking, I discovered, is to have a protein/fat source along with it, such as the cashews or PB/AB, or else you can snack all day long on your low carb carrots and never feel satisfied. Also, for the sandwiches, PB&J gets old pretty quickly for me (especially since jam has LOTS of sugar), so I like to do hummus/salad greens/cucumber/whatever veggies you want sandwiches, which turn out really well and stick to you for a good while due to the hummus. And all of my sandwiches go on Dave’s Killer Bread! Recently I found a type of Dave’s bread called Powerseed (comes in a red bag) that is only sweetened with fruit juices, has low sugar, and has lots of protein from all the yummy seeds and nuts inside! Highly recommend it.

Back on the adventure front, I am excited to be shadowing our Ladies Rock Climbing Trip to Moab this weekend! Shadowing is the first step to becoming a Trip Leader in our Outdoor Rec program, so I’m on my way. Also, I plan to stay in SLC this summer, rather than go home to Nevada, and work with the Outdoor Program for their really cool Summer Program where we work with younger kids from the South Salt Lake area and take them on fun day trips and camping trips. This is the best way to really get my foot in the door with the program, so I’m hoping by this coming fall I will be a member of the main lead team on a trip or two!

The only thing still bringing me down (now that the WFR wall of doom has been broken through) is my very possibly broken middle right finger. I smashed the tip of it between two kettlebells at crossfit on St. Paddy’s day (how completely unlucky!). It began bleeding profusely from my nail bed upon impact and I started running around the gym shouting and grasping my bloody hand like a small child. It was quite the scene I must say. Anyway, it swelled up to be pretty large, and while the swelling is pretty much completely gone, my finger is still rather tender and weirdly kind of numbish/tingly when I put pressure on the tip. I would post a picture, but it almost made my roommate throw up when she saw it, so maybe it isn’t appropriate for all viewers. Unfortunately, this injury has set me back a little bit in crossfit, since I can’t really grip super heavy bars, and I’m a little worried about the upcoming climbing trip where all fingers are rather essential. Nonetheless, yesterday I made it down to crossfit after not going for a solid 6 days (darn you WFR!) and got a PR clean and jerk at 105lbs! What a great way to fully de-stress and get all the yuckies out of my system, even with a lame finger; it was the icing on the cake and totally rejuvenated me to return to the real world in my “life after WFR.” Just goes to show how amazing exercise and working out are for your body, mind, and soul.

I hope all of you who may be pushing through some tough parts in your life get a little hope from this post. Just know that whatever it is, it is impermanent. After some nitty gritty perseverance and hard work, you too will have a moment to pause.

A Report on Vegan Camping (And General Spring Break Adventures in Moab)

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A Report on Vegan Camping (And General Spring Break Adventures in Moab)

Back again! This week is my spring break, and I spent the first part of it, last Friday through this Wednesday, in the Moab area with my two friends Charlie and Devon. Charlie and I tend to do lots of crazy adventures together that result in interesting stories, and Devon added some craziness to the mix as well!

Charlie is not a big plan ahead kinda guy, so I was forced to either plan all of our meals and food or depend on Charlie’s stash of 15 bags of top ramen, a large jar of peanut butter, pancake mix, and various canned soups. Of course, I had to choose the first option, and I forced the boys into eating vegan with me for almost the entire trip.

When I began planning I realized I had no idea what to bring camping as a vegan. Also, I didn’t have a cooler, which was considerably limiting. I ended up purchasing a small cooler from Smith’s the day of departure and adding some hummus, salsa, mixed greens (which I didn’t use), garden burger patties (which I also didn’t use), and some soy milk. The rest of my stuff was relatively stable without refrigeration.

I had three staple camping foods on my menu plan for dinners that I have come across during my time with the Outdoor Rec program at school: burritos with beans, rice, and veggies; curried quinoa with veggies; and gado-gado (which I honestly have no idea how to spell).

For the Burritos:

Stir-fry some veggies and garlic in a pan; I used bell peppers and onion. Then set those aside and cook up some brown rice (boil-in-bag is pretty easy), toss in a can of beans, mix in the veggies, and season with some salt and pepper.  Add salsa on top and serve with tortillas.

Curried Quinoa:

Stir-fry veggies with garlic; again I used bell peppers and onion, also some chopped carrots. Set aside and cook the quinoa. Add in a ton of curry powder to the quinoa and maybe some salt and pepper too. Stir in the veggies. I also like to add some type of seed for a richer taste, so this time I added raw sprouted pumpkin seeds. Some people also enjoy raisins, but I prefer to leave those out.

Gado-Gado:

This dish is a Thai noodle peanut-buttery dish that really sticks to your ribs. Definitely my favorite, especially after a long day.

Stir fry some veggies with garlic (bell pepper, onion, and this time I added cauliflower too). Then cook some Thai straight cut rice noodles. Drain the water and add in quite a few scoops of peanut butter. The amount of peanut butter depends on how much rice noodles you have and also on how peanut-buttery you like it. Add in a few squirts of soy sauce, which you can also adjust to your tastes. Keep stirring it up until all of the noodles are coated (be prepared for some tiring stirring with all that peanut butter in there). Add in the veggies and mix it up one last time.

On the first night, we got into camp well after dark and had some considerable issues trying to fire up the stove. Charlie had neglected to test the stove before leaving. We made use of Charlie’s abundant top ramen store and ate raw, crunchy top ramen cakes for dinner. I also had a Bobo’s Oat Bar to give a little extra substance. Other than that, however, the planned meals worked out beautifully!

For breakfasts, we did pancakes, oatmeal, and cereal. Pancake mixes aren’t vegan, so that was a small fudge of my veganness for one morning, please don’t tell on me. Also, a camping tip for oatmeal: if you forget to bring any normal sweetener for your plain oatmeal, pancake syrup works pretty well.

Each lunch consisted of fresh-in-the-field as my dad likes to call it (not pre-made in the mornings) PB&J sandwiches. One jar of strawberry jam was just enough to get us through all five lunches. For trail snacks, I brought apples, lots of Clif bars, and Bobo’s Oat Bars. I also indulged in way too many Oreos because 1. Devon bought a package of double-stuffed, 2. Oreos happen to be vegan, and 3. they are stupidly irresistible and get me every time. However, I’m fairly sure I burned off the calories with all of our climbing, hiking, and rappelling we did.

Which brings me to the actual adventures we had! Unfortunately, I do not have the time or space to write it all out, and most people probably don’t have the patience to read through it all, so I’ll just add some photos and mention some highlights:

Charlie’s first trad leads (starting on ’30 Seconds Above Potash’ a classic 5.8 crack climb!)

First desert tower summits (Owl Rock and Bullwinkle Tower)

Three awesome rappels (Cable Arch, Looking Glass Rock, Morning Glory Arch)

Lots of hiking and messing around in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

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Powder, Comfort Food, and Movie

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Today was stupendous! Last night, 8 inches of beautiful Utah fluff FINALLY fell on the Wasatch mountains, including my lovely Snowbird ski area. This morning my parents and I jumped in the car, along with my two friends Seamus and Bridger, and we made a run for the mountains. Unfortunately, every other powder-starved person in the Salt Lake area also got in their car at the same time, because the normal 30 minute drive up turned into a good hour or more of bumper to bumper stop and go traffic. However, once we got up on the mountain, the poor traffic was completely wiped from our minds by the expanses of silky powder that awaited us. I think that was my best ski day this season by far. The turns were stellar. The pow delivered.

Around 1:20pm, we were doing a lap on the Road to Provo run, and Bridger, who is an exceptional skier, decided it was time to “ride the wave.” In other words, it was time to gain lots of speed going down so that he could jump a ridge in the middle of the slope and clear the top so he could land on the back side of the ridge. We all watched from the top, and it was really one of the greatest jumps I’ve seen in quite some time. We all shouted and whooped, because it was that awesome. However, we didn’t see his landing, since it was on the back side. Unfortunately, his landing resulted in a chin-to-knee collision where the impact split a nice gash in his chin, as well as a mild concussion. But, being a typical guy, we had to thoroughly convince him that he really did need to go to the medical clinic, as he dripped blood onto the snow. Here’s a shot of him looking smiley as ever, but a little dazed and oozing some gore out of his chin. And yes, it turned out the clinic was a good choice, since he got a few stitches.

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After today’s adventures on the slopes, we went to yet another vegan place for dinner, this time the Vertical Diner. I’d heard of this diner a couple times before, but still had not experienced it. As opposed to our other vegan meals this weekend, the Vertical Diner is known as “vegan comfort food.” I ordered a California burger made with a black bean and corn patty, and it came with veggies and guacamole on top. Also, I chose the 7-grain bun which is a MUST: soooo yummy with all those crunchy seeds and grains in it. Mom got a burger too, but with a different patty and more of a french dressing on it, and dad went all out and got the American Diner meal which was fried “chicken” (seitan) on top of a heap of mashed potatoes and gravy. Talk about classic comfort food. We all decided that the Vertical Diner was a very interesting experience compared to Sage’s and Omar’s. The other two places seemed to be going for an independent vegan style, creating dishes that work well with plants and vegan ingredients, whereas the Vertical Diner is going for a vegan take on very un-vegan foods. I still liked the Vertical Diner quite a bit though, and the price is definitely right for the college crowd. It is truly amazing how normal you can make things taste, such as bean-based burgers and fried seitan “chicken.” Of course, we also indulged in dessert, this time a Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownie Sundae. Oh my, it was to die for.

IMG_20150221_195627_100On the left: a soy chai latte for starters     IMG_20150221_201552_203

On the right: our burgers and classic American fried chicken dish

Below: the peanut butter chocolate dessert heaven.

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After our delicious meal, we went and saw the Imitation Game at the independent theater in downtown SLC. It was an extremely interesting movie, and I highly recommend it. The film was about Alan Turning, who was the main guy behind cracking German code during World War II, which saved the Allies a lot of lives and time, and helped determine the final outcome. However, Turning was gay, so he never really received the proper recognition for his brilliance until recent years. Go watch it, if you have a free night. It will be well worth your time.

Vegan Valentines

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

I did not have a traditional Valentine’s Day today, but I definitely had a great day anyway. Part of the greatness of my day is due to vegan pizza from The Pie, which is one of the most famous pizza places in Salt Lake, especially for the college crowd. Part of being a true college student is eating some really really really good thick pizza every once in a while, and normally, going vegan would really hinder that. But not at The Pie! Audrey and I ordered a vegan veggie delight pizza, which consisted of marinara, vegan cheez, and a pile of yummy veggies. This was my first experience with melty vegan cheez, and it was pretty positive! The taste is quite comparable, but the texture is a little interesting. When melted, it reminds me a bit of cheese sauce out of a can (which could be further proof of how unreal that cheese sauce stuff is), except that it definitely is shredded cheez, not sauce, before baking. But when combined with a bunch of other toppings, the cheez texture is hardly noticeable and the pizza is still on a godly level of deliciousness.

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Another highlight of my day was completing my first ever lead climb. I know this is un-vegan, but it is also a huge milestone for me, so I think it is totally worth reporting. For those non-climbers out there, lead climbing is when you climb up a rock trailing the rope, and you clip the rope in as you go. This is as opposed to top-rope climbing, where the rope is already anchored at the top of the rock before you climb. Lead climbing results in a lot more responsibility safety-wise for the climber, and falling can be a lot more serious (although you still won’t die or get too injured hopefully). Anyway, I lead a 5.8 climb up Big Cottonwood canyon this morning with my friend and climbing partner Charlie. I was so stoked!! The goal is to climb Cathedral Peak this June with my parents, so today I made one huge step towards that goal.

All in all, between climbing achievements and heavenly slices of vegan pizza, my Valentine’s Day was a success! And it just goes to show that there are so many ways to find happiness when you are surrounded by good friends, food, and mountains; you don’t need a bouquet of roses to be content.