Did You Know? Friday: What really makes a food “spicy”?

Happy early holiday weekend!  Before we get started celebrating America’s birthday, how about some Did You Know? Friday! As a reminder, the first friday of the month, Emily from Sinful Nutrition, Amanda from Semi-Health Nut, and I bring you some solid nutrition/health information that we try to make short, sweet, and easy for everyone to understand!

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Sooooo, I don’t know about all of you, but I am a wuss when it comes to spicy and hot food.  I just learned to tolerate mild buffalo wings and mildly spiced thai food in that past couple years! On the otherhand, I have friends who just LOVE spicy foods…foods that make me cry at one taste, they can handle the heat no problem.

So what exactly gives foods the spice and heat flavor that makes some of us cringe? A mouthful of a molecule called Capsaicin.

Capsaicin is found in some peppers and binds to cell receptors in your tongue and mouth…when it binds to your receptors, is signals to your brain and you feel an intense heat and pain, depending on the capsaicin concentration.

Sooo let’s talk about peppers. Some peppers contain high levels of capsaicin. Common examples of peppers (with increasing capsaicin concentration) would be jalepeno, serrano, tabasco, and habenero peppers.  Most hot sauces that we might put on our eggs, buffalo wings, etc., are a mixture of these peppers…some sauces even contain pure capsaicin (diluted of course)!  Other foods may have chopped or dried peppers with capsaicin to add heat.    An interesting thing to note is that bell peppers do not contain any capsaicin, which is why they have a sweeter taste and very little heat.

So when you are enjoying some spicy salsa or hot wings at your barbeque’s this weekend, you can impress your family and friends with your nutrition nerd knowledge about capsaicin!  You can thank me later :)

What other questions would you want to see on Did You Know? Friday?  Go check out Em and Amanda’s posts for today and keep learning!

Triathlon Thursday: So how’s that going? And what the heck is a brick?

Happy Thursday!  Cannot believe it is July and that summer really is in full swing.  That also means triathlon training is here!

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Triathlon training for this lady was majorly delayed due to that epic road trip with the sis (miss the national park recap? go here).  I could have trained on the trip, but most days I was so tuckered out from our travels that I never once felt guilty for putting it off.

I mean, never felt guilty until this week when I realized I’m running a triathlon on July 11th.  Isn’t that how life always goes, though?  I’ve signed up for 2 triathlons this summer:  A sprint triathlon near my home on the 11th and then Superiorman in Duluth, MN on August 31st.  I’m doing the “41.5” Superiorman, which is a hybrid olympic triathlon with a longer bike.

You all remember that I hate biking right?  Well, one summer and a couple rides on my new fancy road bike later, I still hate it.  More on this later.

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Anyway, I started in last week by easing into some workouts so I didn’t overdo it and end up injuring myself.  Yesterday was my first “two workouts, one day” where I ran and swam, but not brick style.

SPEAKING OF BRICK.  I belong to 2 different facebook triathlon groups and at first, had no idea what “brick workout” meant.  For those of you newbies, a brick workout is where you train in 2 of the 3 triathlon sports in the same workout, with little to no break in between.  So think, “bike/run” or “swim/bike”.   I am hoping once I build up a base endurance that I can start doing these workouts.

So there we are, a starting point!  If any of you have biking tips, send them mah way!   Who else is tri-ing this summer?

That Time We Went To 4 Utah National Parks…In 5 Days

Oh hello!  Let’s keep talking road trip…this seems like it was so long ago!  The first part of our sister road trip was devoted to National Parks in Utah which we had never been to.  They definitely did not disappoint.  Here’s how I would rank them:

1. Zion National Park.

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Dude. This is the Taj Mahal of National Parks that I’ve been to in the continental USA.  I’ve seen the Grand Canyon and I’ve seen Rocky Mtn, but there is just something about those red/orange cliffs of Zion, the virgin river, and the blue sky that make it breath taking.  It is a completely different feel than Rocky Mountain or Grand Canyon National Park.

A couple of things- Zion is a hikers paradise.  Had i realized this, i would have walked my ass off before going there.  Also, Zion is CRAZY busy in the summer.  You can only access most of the park by tram, which isn’t as scary as it sounds, but just be ready for crowds on weekends/lines for trams…or go on the weekdays like we did!

2. Bryce Canyon National Park.

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We only spent a morning here, but I will definitely be back.  We stopped here on our way to Zion and was my favorite National Park…until we hit Zion.  Bryce Canyon has these crazy canyons/rocks called The Hoodoo’s.  I’m determined to hike through the canyon here in the next couple years.  Breath taking and an absolutely cannot miss.

3. Arches National Park.

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Cool.  Hike to the delicate arch (seen behind me), if you’re inexperienced and out of shape like I was, it’ll be kinda hard, but it’s only 3 miles round trip so you’ll live.  Bring water.  The 3 Gossips is also cool.  A fun park to drive around in and some short hikes to see cool rocks!

4. Canyonlands National Park.

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We drove through this in an hour the night we got to Moab.  It is beautiful and I am glad we drove through it, but was the least eventful of the four…except for those free range cows just hanging out on the road with us!  . :)

So that is it…4 beautiful parks.  I quickly became a fan of Utah.

What questions do ya have?  What is YOUR favorite national park?

Profs Love Summer

Friends. It’s been awhile. I’ve been enjoying my much deserved time off this summer…perks of teaching at a small college!  I don’t have many official responsibilities at school during summer…some planning meetings here and there, checking in on annual reports/reviews, and some prep for class.  I was so burnt out in May that I gave myself 4 weeks off completely to recharge.  These days, I am starting to spend a small amount of time prepping for next years classes and planning for other department things.  While it’s great to have a break, it still never really “ends” for educators, in which my parents (long time teachers) are laughing at me for realizing.

Right now, I’m spending my days in Northern Minnesota getting some fam time in at our lakehouse before my sister moves to the east coast.  It’s so nice up here and please don’t slap me for saying this, but I am exhausted at the end of each day from all the relaxing and boating activities!  We celebrated my mom’s birthday this week, dealt with some more health issues for my dad, and have managed to not crash our boat, so we’ll call it a win.

If ya follow on Instagram, you may have noticed two things:

ONE– The blog has an insta now.  Holla.  Shoulda done this about 3 years ago. Follow below if ya wish!

TWO– I went on an epic 3 week roadtrip with my sister during May and June.

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Our Itinerary…

Iowa-Denver-Moab (Utah)-Arches Natl.Park- Canyonlands Ntl. Park- Bryce Canyon Natl. Park- Zion Natl. Park- Vegas!- Pismo Beach- Driving up Pacific Hwy. 1 along the coast- Monterey, CA- San Fransisco, Napa (WINE), and Portland (cousins’ graduation).

All that, almost 6,000 miles,  in 20 days.  It was awesome.  The real question I know you are all wondering is if my sister and I can still stand to be around one another after that.  Happy to  report that my sister and I still like each other and are still speaking after all that time together!  She was a blast and a great road trip partner in crime.  I cant even fathom recapping it all, but definitely expect some posts on it.  Travel is such a huge passion of mine and I think every little bit of info helps when planning and inspiring others.

Last night when I was laying wide awake at 3 am (normal, right?) it popped into my mind that June is the anniversary of this blog.   4 years.  It seems like an eternity ago!  So many thoughts…for another post, which I may or may not have the motivation to crank out during the last few days of this month.  :)

Last thing– anything specific y’all are dying to hear about the roadtrip? Tell meeee.

Peace.

Did You Know? Friday: What do electrolytes and summer have in common?

HAPPY DID YOU KNOW? FRIDAY from California!

Yes, I’m serious. California.  If you’ve been following me on instagram (morethanjustdessert) you know that currently I’m on an epic trip with my sister. We’ve been to Colorado, Utah, Vegas, and now the California coast!  But of course, that isn’t the point…it’s Did You Know? Friday and we’ll get to it.  Remember, if you have a post you’d like to share, link up below!

I thought of this month’s post last week while we were hiking in Arches and Zion National Park in Utah.


While it is BEAUTIFUUUUUUL, it was soooo hot while hiking.  One day we hiked 8 total miles in 96 degree heat!  This was my first real exposure to summer this year, as it was still cold in MN before I left.  My body definitely didn’t adjust well and was sweating like crazy  I hydrated with water,but also knew a secret that many average joe’s may forget…

When you sweat,you not only lose water, you lose electrolytes too.

Electrolytes?  I know that phrase…propel? gatorade?

Sort of.  Let’s start from the beginning.

What do electrolytes do?

Electrolytes are minerals that your body needs.  Sodium, Chloride, and Potassium are  common electrolytes.  They are important because they help your body balance water in cells, conduct nerve impulses, and make sure your blood pressure/volume stays at a healthy level.

So when you sweat, your sweat glands not only release water, they release these electrolytes as well.  With summer coming up and a lot of warm days, we all have a lot of sweating ahead of us, so it’s important to remember that in some situations, we may need more than just water.

The easiest way for most athletes to consume electrolytes is by sports drinks.  You want to aim to have less than 6% glucose as a guideline.

Times you probably don’t need electrolytes/sports drinks**:

Exercising less than 45 min- 1 hr.  I know that this sounds crazy, but it’s true.  Studies have shown that by consuming a meal within a couple hours of working out, your body is able to replace the small amount of electrolytes lost.

Times you probably need electrolytes/sports drinks:**

Exercising more than 1 hour, or 30-45 minutes high intensity exercise in extreme heat. It’s important to consume electrolytes during long-duration exercise and after, so your replace what you lost! This all plays into total hydration, as again, the electrolytes help balance water in your cells.

Sports drinks aren’t the only option for electrolytes.  Cheese, Milk, Bananas are examples of foods that contain electrolytes as well.   Salt is essential all electrolytes as it is made up of sodium and chloride.

Questions?  Remember, hydration is so important in the summer months! 

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**Please note, I am NOT a doctor.  These recommendations are from scientific studies and what I have learned in graduate school through textbooks, etc.  If you have questions or concerns about your electrolyte balance PLEASE see a dietitian or doctor.

Road Trip Picnics Are My Favorite (+Blue Diamond Nut Thins Review)

So here’s the deal.  I’m on day 5 of an epic road trip with my sister. We’re currently in Utah hitting up some fabulous National Parks!

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Throughout this road trip, we’ve been trying to figure out ways to save money.  One of the easiest ways, in my opinion, is to eat simple snacks/meals for breakfast and lunch on the road, unless there is someplace extremely unique.  That way, we can have a nice dinner out wherever we are without breaking the bank!

So insert road trip picnics.  Liz and I packed a cooler with carrots, hummus, PB, bananas, some badass Wisconsin cheese, turkey/salami, and Nut Thins from Blue Diamond Almonds.  Hence, the road trip picnic.  I love simple lunches like this and the Nut Thins from Blue Diamond have been clutch.

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I know what you’re thinking.  Dang Em, you’ve been reppin’ Blue Diamond hard lately.  But that’s the thing…I LOVE THE STUFF they produce.  When they offered to send me Nut Thins to review, I had already been obsessed with them for a year or so.  If you are gluten-free, this is a great option for you.  Don’t worry, I still love the gluten, but I choose these tasty crackers anyway because they are light, crispy, and tasty!

Thanks again, Blue Diamond!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Nut Thins.  I was sent free product to review but received no other compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Blue Diamond Almonds + Yogurt = Happy Emily

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.  I was given free product to review, but was not compensated monetarily.  All opinions are my own.

One of my favorite things about blogging is the opportunity to work with companies and foods I love and believe in.  I partnered with Blue Diamond Almonds to test out their products a few months ago and it has been a pretty sweet partnership so far.  Almonds are a great food from a nutrition point of view…they are filling because they have fat, but it is unsaturated fat (the healthy kind) and are also a great source of minerals.  And let’s face it, they are just delicious.

But speaking of filling foods, one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast is greek yogurt.  I try to choose plain greek yogurt because it has wayyyy less added sugar than the flavored kinds.  But lets be honest, plain greek yogurt is BOOOORING and not very tasty.   So I try to add in some type of whole grain cereal (usually cheerios), fruit, and I also love adding in almonds!

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This month, Blue Diamond sent me the Oven Roasted Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate.  They were the perfect addition to the yogurt!  Of course, the dark chocolate almonds definitely upped the sugar content, but because I added a small amount it wasn’t outrageous and I was in control of the portions!

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The Oven Roasted Sea Salt almonds made a great snack while I was coaching ultimate frisbee, also!

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Thanks again to Blue Diamond for keeping me full!

How To Add an Image Widget with Link to Your Blog

Happy Tuesday!  Still loving summer break so far up here even though it was a whopping 38 degrees when I woke up.  I THOUGHT THIS WAS MAY?!

Anywho, let’s get to it.  Over the past four years, blogging has made me a better problem solver and more resourceful.  I learn new tricks everyday and last week was no different.

There is this fabulous newsletter called The Skimm that provides a roundup of the news around the world.  I’m a skimmbassador, which means that a) I looooove The Skimm and b) I help share it because I think its the bomb.  Disclaimer: I’m not compensated monetarily for sharing The Skimm OR writing this post.  I simply love that it keeps me in the know and helps me appear smart at happy hour.

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A number of skimm’bassadors are bloggers and so a few weeks ago, Skimm HQ sent out an image for us to display on our blogs.  Only problem for me was that with my generic wordpress theme (I use two thousand eleven), I had only added images by an embed code…meaning that the image was housed on another site and they gave me an html code that would display the image and link back to their site.  Groups like Healthy Living Blogs and Fitfluential do this, when I joined their groups I was given the code and used a text widget to display them.

Image Widget Tutorial

But as for sharing The Skimm, I had to figure out how to add an image without an embed code and then how to include a link to a page where a reader could sign up.  After asking a couple questions and the power of the google, I was able to complete the task quickly! Here’s how I did it.

Adding an Image Widget With Link Tutorial

Step one: Go to your plugins and install image widget.  If you search for “image widget” it should be the first one that pops up.  Install and activate the widget.

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Step two: upload the picture you want in the badge/widget to your media (this is just like when you upload your pics to wordpress for a blogpost).  Make sure you edit the picture to resize it to fit your sidebar or where ever you choose to put the badge.  For me, it’s about 190 x 190 pixels-ish to fit my sidebar.

Step three: click on widgets under the “appearance” tab on the left side of your dashboard. You should see your new “image widget” on the list of widgets available. Mine is in the first column on the left in the image below.   Drag the image widget to whichever sidebar or menu you would like to put it on…my “main sidebar” is where I would drag mine to.

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Step four, five, six:  Click on the image widget in your sidebar on the right side of the page. You can now upload your image to the widget.  You should be able to use the image you uploaded to your media. Then add a title if you want.  This should be relevant to your image/link if you do add it. Lastly, add the link you want it to send the reader/clicker.  For the skimm’bassador badge, the link I added was my unique reference code, so that those interested in receiving The Skimm would be referred by me!

imagewidget_tutorial4 Last step: MAKE SURE YOU HIT SAVE!  You should be good to go and see your image/badge on your sidebar or menu now!

Helpful links: WP Beginner

Disclaimer (again): I receive no monetary compensation for being a skimm’bassador or for writing this post.

Connect with Emily:

Twitter@mtjdessertblog  Instagram@morethanjustdessert  Pinterest: @emhi10s    FacebookMore Than Just Dessert
More Than Just Dessert...

5 Minute Taco Dip (for one)

1st things 1st: Big news, More Than Just Dessert finally has it’s own instagram! Appropriate username is: More Than Just Dessert.  From now on, most of blog life will be posted on there instead of my day to day life acct (@emhi10s)

Ok, onto the real deal today. So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  Blog thinking.  It’s no secret I’ve been less frequent on the blogosphere this past year, due to the time demand of being a professor.   The first year was hard and once again, I lost my blogging mojo.  The past week as I’ve started to gain my time back, I thought long and hard about the future of this blog.  Was it even worth it to keep going? What did I want out of this? Does anyone even read what I say? I ended up writing down things that I wanted to see in a blog/website to make ME interested in reading  and one of the things was recipes for only 1 or 2 servings.  It’s just me at my house and I want leftovers for lunch for one day, max.  Last week I was then whipping up an old favorite when I realized, “hey! this is a single serving recipe! and i actually have time to share it!”.

So here we are. First recipe in forevs. Enjoy.

TacoDip

I’ve been making this dip for about a year now and it is so simple!  I concocted the recipe last fall when I was craving taco dip but unwilling to pay the outrageous prices for pre-made dip from the deli.  My new found love for sour cream/greek yogurt fueled the base and it took off from there!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons light sour cream or plain greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning

2 tablespoons refried beans

1 tablespoon cheese

2 tablespoons shredded lettuce (I usually guess-timate this)

1 tablespoon diced tomato

2 green onions diced

Directions

In a small custard cup or rammekin (I use these pyrex custard cups), mix sour cream and taco seasoning.  On top of the sour cream, layer beans, half the cheese, lettuce, tomato, green onions, and remaining cheese.  Serve with peppers or tortilla chips for dipping!  You can also easily multiply this recipe to make more servings.

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Thanks, Ma

First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there!  I have seen many of my friends become mothers over the past few years and it has been such a treat to see their new lives and roles develop.  Please know that you all inspire me everyday!

Most of all, Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, Ann.  Last year, I told you what I admired about my mom, this year, we’re changing it up a little!

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Every year, I have come to appreciate more and more about my mom in various aspects of life.   Over the past couple years, I’ve watched my mom provide for our entire family…taking care of my dad by herself during his continuing health battles, but also still being there for my sister and I.   I was amazed at the strength she showed when walking through fire.

This past year, I began to see my mom in an even different light than before.  One of the things that really stuck out for me in what I appreciate about my mom came from my own experiences.  I just finished my first year as a professor and essentially, this was my first real job.  It was fun to trade teaching stories this past year with my mom, who is a high school business teacher.  It was also necessary and nice for both of us to have someone to rant to that understood the struggles educators go through.

I won’t lie to you, there were days during this first year that I was so stressed out I could barely take care of myself.  And it’s just me living in my house…unlike so many other women who have others they are responsible for!  I constantly asked myself , “How the heck do the profs with kids do this when I can barely do this alone? How did my mom dedicate so much time to being a good teacher and still have the energy to be a good mom?”   This year I’ve been in awe of how much my mom accomplished in her career all while raising kids.  She picked her battles. She asked for help when she needed it.  She always stuck to her guns.  She has knocked being a working mother out of the park and dedicating herself to the things she loves.  I hope to gain your perseverance and patience as an educator, but also as a mom if I do decide that’s what I want some day.

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I know a lot of us will be saying thank you to our mom’s today, so here are just a few things I’d like to thank my mom for.

Thanks, mom…

…For being a mom instead of trying to be my best friend.  (I loved this article!)

…For supporting my love of travel and even joining in a few times over the past few years! And always helping me make it work so I can learn about the world first-hand for myself.

…For the fabulous text messages, sometimes even complete with emojis!

…For not leaving me at the mall after I threw fits in Abercrombie and Fitch during my teenage years when you wouldn’t buy me everything in the store because you thought that store was ridiculous.  I will publicly admit here that you were right. :)

…For being my harshest critic, yet biggest fan.

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…For when I brought home my first B midterm grade  in high school and was distraught, that you weren’t upset, you just thought I could do better.  That simple conversation has stuck with me til today, as I ask myself in many situations, can I do better?

…For never ever pushing me too hard and forcing me to do anything I didn’t want to do so I didn’t burn out.

…For reminding me that marriage is a big freakin’ deal without even having to say anything.  Through sickness and health? For better for worse? You never formally refer to those, but I see you live out those vows everyday and especially being dad’s sole caregiver over the past couple years.  You set a great example of what it really means to be a partner in a relationship.

…For still sending me $10 on Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Because it’s the little things. :)

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…For the 2,304,476 times you turned out the lights in rooms in our house after I left them because I didn’t.  Also I apologize for the thousands of dollars that probs cost you in bills. :)

…For financially helping me out during college and graduate school, yet still holding me responsible for part of it.  You knew I would eventually be successful, yet it would be a journey to get there.  So you did whatever you could to help me….I am forever thankful.

…For always being up for a chocolate martini!!

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…For being a fantastic role model.

…For surrounding me with other strong women my entire life.

 

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Thanks for everything mom, I am so lucky you are mine!