Gluten-Free Hiking

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were the staple food of my childhood. Anyone else? From the playground to hiking trails, the sticky-sandwiches were Ziplocked and stashed in my pack on an almost daily basis.

So you can feel my despair, when all of a sudden…no more PB&J. It’s the Gluten-Free (well, almost GF) life for me now. So here are three of my favorite gluten-free hiking snack alternatives to keep you feeling like that energizer-bunny, school kid on every mile.

Recipe for a good hiking snack:

  • packed with protein and calories
  • light weight to carry
  • doesn’t need to be refrigerated

Trail Mix

Try making your own! It’s cheaper, plus then you don’t have to pick out all the ingredients you don’t like. I enjoy a simple mixture of raw almonds with white raisins and chocolate chips.

trail mix

Rice cakes with peanut butter

Slap two of these together and enjoy almost like a real PB&J! If you want to mix it up more, try the apple cinnamon cakes with almond butter or nutella.

Apr:11

Home made granola bars

These are way cheaper than the prepackaged snacks and customizable to be gluten-free – just make sure to use GF rolled oats. I like adding sunflower seeds, toasted almonds, white chocolate chips and coconut to my creations. Just bake and wrap in plastic to make it to-go friendly. Here’s a tasty recipe!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

What is your favorite treat to bring hiking?

*Always check package descriptions and ingredients when buying gluten-free snacks.

Tapas at Red Agave

For a small meal that is oh so fine…oh so fine, take a seat at Red Agave in Eugene, Oregon for their tapas. Ranging from $6 – $14 these small meals tingle the taste buds and satisfy your gourmet food fix for the month without killing the pocket book. Swing in right as they open to grab a table or go late in the evening to enjoy with their specialty drinks.

Ahi Ceviche

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatility keeps life interesting and for someone who ends up juggling the equivalent of ten plates, two swords and a can of peaches each week, it is the sole thing that keeps me sane while driving me crazy at the same time. One of the my many joys in life though is sharing all these countless passions with you.

On January 19, I was nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award. With this award comes responsibility – three simple rules – which I joyously and adventurously accept!

Rule 1: Thank who nominated you for the award & include a link to their blog

Thank you so much Custom Trip Planning for nominating me and engaging with my blog. Custom Trip Planning is a fantastic blog penned by Beth and Graham Rankin offering great travel planning tips, trip insights and fabulously descriptive posts.

Rule 2: Reveal seven things about yourself:

Shark Cave Diving

7. I am extremely afraid of fish. I’m not sure when or why this phobia came about. I  feel super silly even admitting to it, but truly I hate fish. Whenever I’m in water near those creepy swimming creatures it is as if spiders are crawling up and down my arms and legs – my body wells up with tension and anxiety until a toddle tantrum feels inevitable. I first discovered this fear while snorkeling in Hawaii with my family about ten years ago. As soon as the first school of fish ventured near, I curled up into a ball – thus sinking and freaking out even more. However, even with this fear, I somehow went shark cave diving and for five years had a pet fish named Bruce.

6. I have lived abroad twice and dream of traveling the world. For three months during my junior year of college, I lived and studied in the small Italian town of Paderno del Grappa through the CIMBA program. This is where I first fell in love with wine and travel blogging (Italy Travel Blog). A year later during my senior year of college, I moved to South Africa and worked at a winery just outside of Cape Town for three months. (SA Travel Blog). Ultimately I’d love just to travel and write about my trips and experiences. Check out my Travel Bucket List.

5. I have Crohn’s Disease. Diagnosed only last year, I am still trying to get the disease under control, but a little tummy trouble won’t get me down.

4. I almost studied to be a fashion designer. I can’t even image how different my life would have been if I traveled down that oh-so-trendy path. Though I still love sewing my own clothing and crocheting and secretly watch Project Runway religiously (well on-demand), I am happy to keep that side of my life as just a fun hobby.

3. I never ate a full salad until I was 18. When I was young I turned my nose at anything green – unless it was lime Jell-O or kiwi and that was still a stretch. Yet one day during my freshman year of college I tried a salad and discover that there is a huge world of deliciousness beyond ranch dressing. Now I eat a salad a few times a week.

My Grandma and Grandpa

2. I started writing in third grade. My best friend and I actually wrote an entire short story series with full color illustrations. Since then I have written poems, newsletter articles, magazine features and hundreds of blog posts (I currently have two blogs of my own – Oregon Winette is my second). I hope to one day write a book – the topic is yet to be determined.

1. I am related to a quarter the population of Wyoming. Not really – but really. My grandfather is one of twelve siblings who grew up on a back country dude ranch in Wyoming and my grandmother one of ten. Between all of these cow-folk and their children, it seems every time I go to visit, other relatives appear out of the wood-works. Yet I love them all – third, fourth, fifth cousins too – but I would never date someone from the state without a detailed background check!

Rule 3: Bestow the honor to other blogs you enjoy reading

Here are 10 of my favorite blogs:

Northwest Food and Wine Festival

Last night I attended the Northwest Food and Wine Festival hosted at the DoubleTree Inn at the Lloyd Center in Portland, Oregon. Featuring hundreds of different wines from Washington and Oregon along with 50 restaurants best finger foods, the festival buzzed with happy sippers.

Roaming the aisles of wine and food merchants, I scooped out the company before excitingly jumping in with a splash of Carton Cellar’s Pinot Gris, a crisp, dry Gris with a lovely minerality and bright citrus. A delicious start to a night that was filled with tantalizing and varied flavors that took over every corner of my month.

A few of my favorites from the night include:

J. Scott

Poured by the wine maker, who looked like he just walked out of the vineyards in a hat, jeans and work button up, J. Scott ‘s Grenache was a delicious and smooth red wine with a light blackberry aroma like the first hot week of August along the river. Based out of Eugene, Oregon, J. Scott is a small boutique wine producer blending handcrafted batches of Oregon wines.

Tesoaria

The only bottle of wine that we purchased from the festival was a deep, fruity Sangiovese by Tesoaria. Smooth on the tongue but not short in flavor, this Italian style red wine abounded with bright cherry and a floral nose. Plus never doubt the influence of a knowledgeable and personable pourer. Jay Schmidt, the winery’s proprietor greeted us like best friends and spoke openly about the wines. We had a fantastic time hanging out later in the night and swapping wine suggestions. Tesoaria’s home soil is in Roseburg, Oregon.

Chateau Lorane

Another Eugene area winery representing with wonderful wines, Chateau Lorane sampled three fantastic wines at the festival. A light, fruity red with a smooth & silky finish, Chateau Lorane’s Counoise surprised even my wine saturated mouth. With an alluring fragrance and amazing drinkability, this is a wine I would most definitely buy and drink regularly.

I also enjoyed Van Duzer Vineyard’s Pinot Noir and Mt. Defiance’s Hellfire wines.

Beyond the wine, the NW Food and Wine Festival also featured a wide selection of vodka, gin, whiskey and some more unique liquors like Pisco. From a fresh, herby gins to Cofia Hazelnut Espresso vodka by Bend Distillery and Trillium Absinthe by Integrity Spirits with a refreshing licorice flavor, the festival had a little bit of everything for guests to sample – and a lot a bit of Pate. After sampling about five different varieties of pate, which before this night I had never had before, I found out that the mushy, meat mixture was the food competition piece for the festival. Other noteworthy food items included a thinly slight beef open face sandwich with lamb meatball and a blue cheese sample topped with nuts and drizzled with honey.

Thanks to @WineJulia and Eugene Daily New’s Wine Down Eugene for the tickets and a fantastic night of wine, food and fun.

Packing For My First Multi-Day Bike Trip

In less than 36 hours I will be testing my leg strength and sunscreen in my first multi-day cycling trip through the Willamette Valley. While passing lush, growing vineyards and farm grounds being tilled, there are a few essentials that I know I’ll need along the way and a few things that are bulk just out of pure want – luckily for me my group has a support vehicle for the three-day trip north from Armitage County Park to Champoeg State Park.

For my packing list I divided my needs into four categories: Food, Clothes, Bike Needs, Blogging Needs/Others

Food

Our bike trip is not only about the peddling but also about the stops, so many of our meals we plan on enjoying a local eateries. But with covering 139 miles I needed to pack at least a few snacks to keep up my energy. Additionally I am on a gluten and dairy light diet, so my food packing list is a little different from the ordinary crowd.

My yummies for the road

  • 2 Peanut Butter & Jelly, Rice Tortilla Rolls
  • 3 mini boxes of rice milk
  • 1 baggy of cereal
  • 3 baggies of peanut M&Ms
  • 2 Gluten Free Lara Bars
  • 2 Bags of Gluten Free crackers
  • 1 Gatorade
  • 3 days worth of vitamins & medications

 Clothes

For my trip, I not only needed bike gear for three days but also outfits for evenings out and sightseeing.

Outfits

  • 1 neon yellow wind/rain proof bike jacket
  • 1 warm zip up
  • 3 sports tank tops
  • 1 half-zip biking top
  • 1 pair cushioned bike shorts
  • 1 back-up Capri exercise pants
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 2 sports bras
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 skirt & blouse for night out
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 1 dress shoes
  • 1 pair of tennis shoes
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Undergarments

 Bike Gear

Now for the real essentials of the trip. Most of the articles I plan on having on me during the trip on in my bike bag.

Bike essentials

  • 1 helmet
  • 1 bike light
  • 1 tire tool
  • 1 spare tube
  • 1 bike lock
  • 1 water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Tylenol
  • Bike!

Blog

I also plan of keeping all of my blog fans (you!) updated during the trip along with other writing opportunities so my list continues with blogging needs:

writing is no longer as simple as paper and pen

  • 1 iPhone
  • 1 phone charger
  • 1 camera
  • Spare batteries
  • 1 note pad
  • 2 pencils
  • 2 pens
  • ipod
  • iPad (work is providing this)

If you were taking a three day bike-ride what else would you bring? What would be leave behind?

Freshly Picked from Lone Pine Farms

Took my grandparents out to Lone Pine Farms on River Road in Eugene this weekend while they were visiting from Wyoming to pick up some fresh veggies, fruit and flowers.

Need to spice up life?

We also stopped to pet the super cute goats and give them a small snack.

Grandpa petting the goats

Goat walking the trellis

With fall and harvest quickly approaching, this farm is a wonderful stop close to Eugene for all your wonderful fresh produce needs. They also have in October an epic pumpkin patch and corn maze!

 

Plate Cleaning at Cafe 440

I eat like a bird, but my first flight into Café 440 I said bye-bye birdie, hello appetite.

A locally owned eatery that has the swank of a big-urban city restaurant but with comfortable space and locally grown products, Café 440 is a fresh, fun and fabulous foodie spot in Eugene. Located on  Coburg Road near Vanilla Jills (an organic frozen yogurt place that is a must-try if you have been for dessert), Café 440 offers a lunch, dinner and gluten-free menu with northwest specialties, fresh produce and locally harvest meats – additionally all the natural “knee Deep” burger are available with a homemade black-bean patty. Beyond the usual, this classy restaurant also pads up their menu with coosh-redos of mommy-made comfort foods such as gourmet Mac N Cheese with a creamy cheese sauce over petite penne and House Meatloaf that is all natural and served with mashed potatoes topped with garlic-basil butter. Plus for you Eugene beer fans out there, Café 440’s Executive Chef Kathryn Reeves also serves up a Ninkasi braised beef short ribs.

For my dinner selection I went with the black bean burger on a grilled ciabatta roll with French fries. As one of my favorite go-to choices when I’m eating out, I have tried many-a-vegetarian burger – but this thick, not-overly seasoned version definitely stood out – so much so that I finished the entire thing! With a soft texture and taste that actually resembled black beans (imagine that) with a light mixing of corn, the burger didn’t cut corners on size and quality – I think it was actually bigger than my sister’s traditional beef burger. The ciabatta roll gave the burger a nice structure and helped to keep this finger food in hand while also offering a nice contrast of texture to the mashed bean. The fries on the side also stood their own (I would go there for just the fries, sad I know, but sometimes you just want some good deep-fried potatoes). With an even crunchiness and a soft seasoning that reminded me of gourmet version of Arby’s or Shari’s seasoned fries, this side dish didn’t need any condiments for dipping because they were tasty enough to savor alone. The only downside of my meal was that I had to pay a dollar more for cheese (most of the add-on cost more unfortunately) but with a fair starting price and my simple burger style, it didn’t break the bank.

Café 440 also has a great drink menu with local wines, beer and a fruity selection of cocktails. Every Wednesday, the bar also offers an evening wine flight to try three small tasters of something new.

Hours:

Monday – Thursday, 11am-9pm; Friday, 11am-10pm; Saturday, 11am-9pm; Sunday brunch, 9am-2pm

44o Coburg Road, Eugene, OR, (541) 505-8493

For special deals and updates follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Some Eugene Restaurant Love

I’m not usually someone who eats out often, but in the past two weeks you could say that I have significantly boosted the Eugene economy with my food cravings. For those who haven’t experience the culinary mastery that is Eugene’s eclectic and exciting foodie scene, it’s easy to get wrapped up into delicious ethnic cuisines and signature fresh provisions.

Sushi Pure

Just one of the many amazing restaurants located in the Fifth Street Public Market, Sushi Pure creates a Japanese flare that is hard to forget. Serving traditional Japanese cuisines and a wide variety of hand-made sushi, the dark-lit restaurant pops with high-quality food paired with an atmosphere that emphasis the customer experience. Soft black and red fabrics balanced with the sharp edges of the dark tables and offset by soft yellow wall lanterns, the interior demonstrates the restaurant’s value to detail like its hand-rolled, made to order sushi.

Sushi Pure, photo courtesy of Yelp.com

With a wide variety of sushi from simple to chef specialties and ranging in price that makes sushi accessible anytime, Pure Sushi is a wonder spot for a light lunch or formal dinner. The menu also provides sushi alternatives such as traditional chicken teriyaki served in a creative lunch box to soups and other full Japanese entrees.

Sad when I clasp the last piece of sushi, my meal was beyond good. Served on a modern, white square plate and perfectly presented, my dinner consisted of eight spicy tuna rolls surrounded by light purple sticky rice and six mini sushi rolls with soft, succulent shrimp accented by crunchy cucumber. Each piece I ate slowly to enjoy the lovely mixture of flavors and textures and in hope that the experience would continue for as long as possible – something that I hope each new visitor to this excellent sushi restaurant can enjoy and savor sweetly.

296 East Fifth Avenue, suite 220, Eugene, OR 97401, (541) 654-0608

Open Monday – Saturday, 11:00 am – 2:30 pm (lunch), 5:00 – 9:30 pm (dinner), Sake bar open until 2:00 am Friday and Saturday

Sabai

In a light, modern space at the Oakway Center, Sabai, one of the newest residents to this lively outdoor shopping complex, sends you in hungry and sends you out blissfully content. Serving diverse flavors and cuisines from the Pacific Rim, the restaurant emphasizes fresh ingredients with simple recipes that are light on the stomach but precisely prepared. Accented with traditional Thai food, the menu also offers the opportunity to individualize your dish with level of spice and protein options that include vegetarian selections, hand-cut meats and fresh seafood.

Sabai, Sarah enjoying Pad Him Ma Parn

With a variety of Noodle dishes, curries and stir fries on their main entrée menu, my selection was difficult – but I was excited to see that each of my friends chose a different item. I had Sabai’s signature noodle dish, properly names Sabai Noodle with chicken as my protein. A Pad Thai rice noodle stir fried with egg, fresh bean sprouts and topped with peanuts and a dash of lime, my meal was evenly coated with the lightly sweet sauce and the texture varied with the crunchiness of the nuts with the cool, pleasant slim of the thin noodles. Contrasting to the Sabai Noodle, my friend’s plate of Pad Him Ma Parn dazzled with spice. A stir fry with chili paste, onions, bell peppers, carrots, water chestnuts and cashews and served with family style rice, this meal cleared my sinuses with a delicious mixture of spices.

Highlighted by extremely accommodating and friendly wait staff, Sabai is one restaurant that I imagine will stay bustling for a long time. But with that fact in mind, reservations are recommended for dinner especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. Also look out for the bathroom hall door, it sometimes locks itself! But just peak your head in the kitchen and they will free you to your food again.

27 Oakway Center, Eugene, Oregon 97401, (541) 654-54-24

Izakaya Meiji Company

More than just whisky – though this bar has a very extensive list – Izakaya Meiji Company in the Whitaker Neighborhood of Eugene, is a moody low-light, local-filled restaurant whose scents make you salivate as soon as you enter door. With wonderful service and even better food, this Japanese influenced restaurant offers an exquisite mixture of spices with fresh vegetables, grilled items and rice bowls. Served family-style servings to share that come out individually throughout the meal, the dining atmosphere is like a casual conversation with your food that thrills your mouth with each bit.

My dinner partner and I enjoy two appetizers and two entrees so to be able to taste a variety of items. The first to appear on our small square wooden table, lit by a hanging bare, industrial light bulb were five Gyoza. Perfectly pan-fried with a lit crispness to the outside of the sticky casing, these pork, cabbage and garlic homemade pot stickers slowly disintegrated in your mouth with a lightness of air. Our second appetizer, shitake mushrooms with miso butter served on a skewer, had a powerfully pleasant flavor that was by far my favorite item of the night – and I’m typically not a big mushroom fan. The shitake mushroom grilled lightly and mixed with the salt along with the full texture of the butter made me savor the spongy fungus with the delighted expression of the richest ice cream. And from there it continued to be amazing. For entrees I had a Japanese Style Curry with chicken and vegetables that had been cook gingerly for an hour and my friend had the Mabo Dofu, a minced grass fed beef balanced with tofu textured in spicy garlic and served with rice.

Outside the restaurant, photo courtesy of Yelp.com

While the food deserves five stars at this restaurant, the drink menu is definitely not to be ignored. With a full two-page list of whiskey and bourbons, along with beer, sake, wine, and unique house cocktails (I recommend the Black Chai – Jim Bean Black, chai tea infused vermouth and Angostura) you will not go thirsty. Both a great dinner location with surprisingly fare prices and after-hours hang out, Izakaya Meiji Company is a hot spot that I will return to every chance I get.

Open daily 5 pm – 1am

345 Van Buren, Eugene, OR 97402, (541) 505-8804

P.S. Can you tell what type of food I’ve been craving?

What’s your favorite Eugene restaurant? Where should I go next?

- Kelsey