When you think about difficult running weather, what comes to mind? Apparently for me it’s Winter and Summer. I’ve written several posts on that subject. What I’ve never written about? Spring running tips! Spring may be lovely, but it roars in with its own set of challenges.
I know, I know — we’re almost in summer. But some of you are still dealing with cooler temps — I hope you find something to help you here.
Wardrobe Amnesia I still sort of consider myself a new runner, and I’ve been running for 10 years. You would think I have dressing down pat, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong! Winter and Summer can have their own challenges when it comes to dressing, but for most of us it will either be warm or cold.
Spring can have all four seasons in one day.
What’s a weather weary runner to do? It’s all about the layers! Windbreakers, arm warmers, jackets or tops that zip and unzip — they’re all your friend. You’ll probably be freezing before you run, but you’ll warm up quickly and either need to unzip, tie something around your waist, or shed a layer if that’s a possibility.
Also remember you need to look at way more than the temperature. I see this again and again: but it’s 55F out! Is it cloudy? Is it windy? Is it humid? What’s the dew point? 55 can feel an awful lot like 45 — or 60!
Try to keep your core, your head, and your hands & feet warm — doing so will make you feel warmer overall.
Different runners have different tolerances for cold and heat. You need to know what’s comfortable for you, and don’t worry about those runners in the shorts over there (or the ones in sweatshirts).
In almost 8 years of running half marathons, I have only run one in April. April can be nice, but there’s a reason they talk about April Showers. My half was called Mud & Chocolate, was outside of Seattle, and totally lived up to its name — but I knew that going in.
If you choose in the middle of Winter to sign up for an April race, don’t be surprised if it’s not warm. Obviously its location can make all the difference, but everywhere except the south the weather can be very dicey in April (and even in the South!).
If you do get caught in a rainy race or training run, a baseball cap with a long brim (or at the very least a baseball cap with a brim!) just might be your new best friend. Raincoats have a tendency to not actually be very breathable, causing you to feel like you’re running in a sauna — or be too breathable, not keeping you dry. Ponchos (or the ever popular garbage bag) may be better option.
And do not forget the lube! Friction + wet = a recipe for pain
Even Worse: Snow Showers!
Yup, Spring Blizzards are a real thing. Heck, three years ago I did a half in Maine on a May Saturday. It was unseasonably warm. As we drove home through New Hampshire & Vermont, there was snow.
Never, ever, ever trust the forecast. Two days before my half the high on race day was predicted to be 50F. The race started in the 60s with lots of sun. I had only brought one race outfit and I totally regretted that decision.
Spring has a tendency to be windy. If possible, plan your route so that you’re running with the wind on your way back, when you’re more likely to feel tired. Accept that you may (and probably should) run slower, because it’s tiring running into wind. Even better, deliberately slow your pace a little.
Don’t wear baggy clothes. You know those crazy Crossfit people who run with a parachute on their backs? Yeah, you don’t want your clothes to create a parachute (a parachute’s job is to slow you down, after all!).
Finally, the wind will make it seem colder than it actually is. Especially if you work up a sweat. Dress warmer than you might if it weren’t a windy day (and make sure that your layers aren’t baggy again!).
Hello Sunscreen, My Old Friend
After the gazillion layers of Winter, it’s easy to forget that you need to put on sunscreen again. Just one sunburn will probably remind you quickly. Do yourself a favor and put it on before you get dressed — this allows you to get at areas underneath your clothes without getting the sunscreen on your clothes.
Doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy. You can get burned on a cloudy day. Don’t forget the sunnies (sunglasses) either — again, even on a cloudy day. Sunglasses do more than just keep the sun out of your eyes; they help to protect them from foreign objects and just protect your vision in general. You will rarely find me without sunglasses on, no matter what the season is.
Is it still Spring-like in your neck of the woods?
Which season is the most challenging for you to dress for?
Do you actually wear sunscreen and/or sunglesses year round?
Today’s topic is are you a solo or group runner? The quick answer for me is both. I believe both have their pros and cons.
The Group Run Nothing will get you out the door quicker for a run than knowing you are meeting other people.
It always feels easier to run with other people (unless, of course, you’re running with a much faster person — like I was last week!). I believe that is part of why it’s easier to run at a faster pace in a race.
You are more likely to stick to the training plan if there are other people along for the run. Unless, of course, those other people tend to cut runs short.
Misery loves company, right? Running with a group in adverse conditions feels a lot less difficult than running alone in the same conditions. Running in a Nor’easter with a group definitely made it more fun!
The Solo Run
You have more flexibility of where and when to run.
Despite the built in group that comes with racing, you’ll be on your own during the race (unless you’re really lucky). I believe in the specificity rule: do in training what you’re going to do in your race. If you’re running a trail race, run mostly on trails. Try out your race day outfit and fueling before the big day. Sometimes tackling those hard runs by yourself are the true confidence builders.
While running with friends can make the run go by quicker — sometimes literally — it’s also so easy to run at a pace that just isn’t right for you. A pace that could potentially lead to injury.
Sometimes we can work through things on our own easier than if we’re in a group — sometimes it’s just the opposite, of course, but there can be real peace in a solo run.
I started out as a completely solo runner, mainly because we were new to the area and I didn’t know anyone. I joined a local running club, but never found my BRFs there. Then I joined a summer running group, and made running friends I still run with sometimes (I’d run with them more often if our schedules synched up more often!).
I actually do love to run in a group, but finding the right group — people you actually can run with — it’s not always easy. There are also times I truly just need to be out there by myself.
Hopefully this is the blog post you will never need, but if you do, I hope it’s helpful to you. Having stomach problems is never fun. You can either help or hinder your healing with the right foods.
The BRAT Diet I got really familiar with this one last week — luckily I already knew about it. BRAT stands for:
Rice (preferably white)
These are foods that are easy to digest and good for an upset stomach.
Usually I’m all about the brown rice, much to Mr. Judy’s chagrin, but when your stomach is upset, white rice is your friend. It’s just easier to digest. I won’t say Mr. Judy was actually happy I was sick, but he was happy he didn’t have to eat the dreaded brown rice. Soon, honey, soon.
Unless you have a sensitivity or an allergy, eggs are generally an easily digestible protein. You’re probably less active, so you won’t need as much protein as usual, but if you don’t get any, your body is going to turn to your muscles for its protein.
You don’t want to lose your muscles, right?
I almost always have bone broth around. I don’t actually enjoy drinking it on its own; usually I use it as a base for soups. However, I drank a whole lotta bone broth while sick and while recovering. It’s another easily digestible source of protein, but if you believe the hype, it will cure anything that ails you.
Probably not, but it is soothing to the stomach in addition to an easy source of protein.
Rice is a little easier to digest than potatoes, but potatoes aren’t far behind. White or sweet, it’s all good.
Jello or Gelatin?
Jello got its reputation for stomach soothing sort of the same way bone broth did — it’s the gelatin. The problem with actual Jello is that it’s usually full of additives and sugar. It may soothe your stomach but it’s not doing a whole lot for your health.
Making home made? That’s a different story, and it’s really not that hard. There will still be a fair amount of sugar, but there will also be easily digestible protein — again. And let’s face it, unless you’re a vegetarian, jello is a nice sweet treat. I started craving sweets, no doubt because for a week I wasn’t eating a whole lot at all. Home made jello will soothe your stomach, provide you with easily digestible protein, and curb your cravings for sweets.
I used Vital Proteins Unflavored Beef Gelatin (Amazon Affiliate link here) — make sure you don’t buy the Collagen Peptides, as that won’t gel — although you can use that in cold or hot drinks for the same benefits, minus the sugar. Great Lakes is another commonly recommended brand.
Chocolate: for Medicinal Purposes Only
I’m not kidding! Okay, so chocolate isn’t necessarily good for an upset stomach — it’s high in both fat and sugar. Ginger, on the other hand, is a known tummy soother (as is peppermint — I drank a lot of ginger tea!). I prefer to get mine in the form of dark chocolate covered crystalized ginger. I have that on hand because I also like to use some for long runs & races.
I ate it several times a day while my stomach was still upset, and it did not upset it further. You can, of course, stick to the teas or use ginger candies or plain crystalized ginger or grind up ginger root in your smoothies.
When you’re feeling better
It’s time to start adding in some actual lean protein: chicken and fish are usually good choices.
Raw vegetables, unfortunately, are hard to digest when you’re not feeling good. I’m used to a lot of veggies and a high fiber diet, but I went pretty much a week with nary a vegetable.
When you’re feeling better, adding in some green smoothies is a great way to reintroduce veggies. Blending the veggies helps make them much easier to digest. I have a smoothie board on Pinterest here, and I added several smoothies that are good for upset stomachs and foods to eat for an upset stomach to it (some day maybe I’ll make that two boards).
While you know how much I love my Skirtsports, I understand: not everyone can afford them (although you should totally check them out during a sale, and I will try to alert you when there are sales!).
I joined Fableticsmany years ago. And for a while, I was pretty obsessed, I’ll admit. Each month you have the chance to skip the month within the first five days, but if you forget, you’re charged $49.95 (which you can apply to an order). You accrue reward points for your orders and for reviewing your orders, and that can be applied to free stuff; in fact, I bought the Augustina Tank with reward points.
Over time, though, I rarely ordered anymore. Most months I remember to skip (they actually do send you a reminder email), but occasionally I got caught and had to order something.
I checked them out on Cyber Monday and they were running a really good sale. I ordered all the items below then, and I must say, that they have really upped their game. Unfortunately, they have upped their prices, as well, but they are still cheaper than many activewear lines and usually a good value for the price.
I always read the comments, though, because fit can really vary and you only have a short window to return items. One other quibble: the damn tags. They’re really, really long and always bothersome. I cut them out. I kept the photos large on this post because let’s face it, I may love fashion but I’m not the greatest fashion photographer and I wanted you to be able to see the clothes.
If you’re still shopping for that hard-to-shop-for fitness enthusiast, you might consider a subscription (or gift certificate) to Fabletics(or Skirtsports, just sayin’).
Colleen Tregging & Zaylee Pullover The Colleen Tregging is a nice weight for cold days — I wore it on a day when the temps barely reached 20F, and that was without factoring in the wind chill. It has two deep side pockets and two smaller zipper pockets, too.
I’m not a super fan of light colors, and I kind of felt like I ought to be sitting on a horse in them, but they’re very comfortable and I love the pockets. They also come in black. Black doesn’t fare well in this house with the furkids.
The Zaylee Pullover is also a heavier weight, and as you can see, it features thumbholes. Love me some thumbholes! The mock neck is a bit awkward on a petite person like me — too short to fold, almost comes up over my mouth standing up, but most of you aren’t 5’1″, either. It’s got a kangaroo pocket and a zippered pocket. It will be great for walking the dogs.
I’m trying to show you the side pockets on the leggings above. While I won’t be wearing the Augustina Tank anytime soon, I love the fact that it will be great to workout in and can be worn when not working out. It doesn’t have a shelf bra but does have double layering at the top.
High Waisted Mesh Powerhold Legging & Liane Pullover
These leggings aren’t quite as heavy a material as the Colleen Treggings, but they’re not lightweight, either. They have mesh on the sides to cool you off as you heat up. They also have a pocket on each leg that’s quite deep.
The Liane Pullover is velour, has thumbholes, and also sports a kangaroo pocket. It will also be a great item to throw on after a workout so I don’t get chilled. Love the below hip length on both this pullover and the Zaylee Pullover. Unfortunately it seems the Liane top has sold out — I’d really love to see this in other colors (umm, teal? Pretty please?).
This is another super cute tank that I won’t be wearing for many months. There’s no shelf bra or double layering (as you might notice). On a side note, my belly looks flatter due to the higher waist of the leggings! It will be interesting to see how this stands up in the wash. One downside is that the opening for your head is very small, and I have a small head!
It’s been a long time since I loved my Fabletics order This much, anyway. I pretty much live in activewear, since I don’t work. Especially in the winter! If I have to change clothes to work out, it probably won’t happen. But if I’ve already got leggings and a tank on, and all I have to do is take off a sweatshirt or sweater, I’ll get it done.
And with Fabletics, I’ll look cute getting it done, too.
I make nothing from Fabletics and I do not represent them. Just a happy customer and thought someone out there might still be looking for gift ideas.
Now you’ve decided you want an Instant Pot (buy the 6 qt Duo Plus from Amazon here— Affiliate link), you’ve bought it, it’s sitting there on your counter . . . what will you do with it?
First Things First
First, per the instructions, you do the steam test.
It’s just a matter of putting in some water and creating steam. You do that to make sure your Instant Pot pressurizes properly.
Our First Meal Was a vegan meal. Think an Instant Pot is only for meat eaters? Think again. I made a black bean quinoa dish as our first meal. Mainly because it was a recipe from a food blogger that I’ve followed a long time and trust.
Mr. Judy, who is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, was not real enthusiastic, but honestly, that had zero to do with the Instant Pot. He’s just not a fan of quinoa or beans, but I believe it’s good for him to have the occasional veggie meal, especially after all the Thanksgiving indulgences.
I’m not sure that the quinoa was completely cooked through — it seemed just a tad crunchy — but I enjoyed the meal and then had multiple lunches out of it. You can find that recipe on my Pinterest Instant Pot board here.
If I’d planned to write a post on the Instant Pot, I would have taken a lot more photos! I had no plans, but once I saw how many people were interested, I thought I’d share.
Frozen fish Next up was fish that was frozen. I’m forever forgetting to take stuff out to thaw, it seems. Granted, you can also cook frozen fish in the oven, and I have, but it takes longer. Much longer.
It came out a little dry, but I actually increased the cooking time by one minute because I thought I was making more fish than the recipe called for — I made both salmon and cod, as Mr. Judy is also not a fan of salmon.
This is where that steep learning curve comes in. With some experimentation, I’m pretty sure I’ll get tender, flaky fish from frozen in much less time than it would take in the oven. This will probably also be a great time to explore the pot in pot method — once I have an appropriate pot — for a “one” pot meal (or at least the whole meal cooked in the Instant Pot.
Brisket I have made brisket in a slow cooker a few times. It’s definitely not TX BBQ, but I do throw Mr. Judy a bone, so to speak, every once in a while.
At first I was thinking of just doing a steak, but then the light bulb went off. Basically the whole thing (2 briskets) was done in about 2 hours, including prep (let sit with dry rub on for 30 minutes, sear) and cooking and depressurizing.
The pieces with a lot of fat on them were tender; the pieces with less fat were a little dry. That may just need an adjustment in cooking time. More? Less? I’m still confused about that one. Still far better (and quicker) than my attempts with a slow cooker.
Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs Typically, my attempts at hard boiled eggs have ended in green tinged hard boiled eggs. So I just buy them. Except sometimes I don’t eat 6 hard boiled eggs before they go bad.
4 eggs. 15 minutes start to finish (including 5 minutes in an ice bath) and voila! Indeed, perfect hard boiled eggs. And only 4, which is probably just perfect for us.
Brown Rice We have a rice cooker; one of the best things we ever bought, by the way. You can also cook quinoa in it. It takes a lot longer than the Instant Pot does. Technically it cooks rice in 4 minutes, but then there’s the whole pesky pressure/depressure thing. It’s still far quicker than my rice cooker.
We used to make rice in a pot on the stove, by the way — but for whatever reason, it always boiled over on our stove in this house (never used to be a problem). After seeing how much my SIL loved her rice cooker, we bought one.
The brown rice probably came out perfect, except we like our brown rice sticky, not fluffy. I never actually liked rice until Mr. Judy made “sticky rice”. It will again just take some experimentation to find out the right settings for us. I am almost out of quinoa, so that is probably next up. I like to make some to always have some on hand (same with rice). I also plan to be cooking up some dried beans — my first time ever! I’m looking forward (I hope) to saying goodbye to canned beans. Forever.
I am not an Instant Pot expert. Heck, I’ve had the thing less than a week. But since I got a lot of comments on it in my Weekly Wrap post (read it here), I thought I’d share what I do know about it. So far.
Of course, the very first question is do runners need an Instant Pot? Seriously, no one needs anything. But I think most runners who actually cook for themselves could definitely benefit from the time saving abilities of an Instant Pot. And for the meal preppers, this is an awesome tool.
Be aware, though, that there’s a relatively steep learning curve for it and you need to be willing to experiment. Although I think that’s part of the fun.
As I mentioned, I bought Duo 6 quart Plus Instant Pot on Amazon here(Amazon Affiliate link). It was a Cyber Monday deal and a lot cheaper. Be patient and I’m sure there will be more good deals soon.
What is an Instant Pot? An Instant Pot is a programmable pressure cooker, but it’s also a lot more:
Pot you can saute in
Cooking food under pressure allows it to cook much quicker than conventional methods.
Yes, sometimes I wonder if there’s something it doesn’t do, but of course there is: despite the saute function, if you want a nice crisped turkey you’re going to have to finish it off in the oven. But it will cook that turkey way faster than roasting it in the oven.
Is it scary like my grandma’s pressure cooker? Yes and no. Apparently most people get it and leave it on their counters for a while because they’re scared of the thing. I got mine and used it the very same day it came, which doesn’t mean I wasn’t a tad scared of it.
Unlike old pressure cookers, though, you are very unlikely to blow yourself up with it; there are far more safety measures. In fact, I had one of the huge, older pressure cookers that I used to can with (and in fact, an Instant Pot isn’t a canner, although I’ll bet there’s a hack for that).
You do have to be careful opening it and moving the steam vent. Yes, it’s possibly to burn yourself, but if you take the proper precautions — don’t lean over it when opening the lid or moving the vent from sealed to venting, tilt the lid away from yourself when opening it, use a wooden spoon to turn the knob from sealing to venting, you’ll be just fine.
It doesn’t make a lot of noise and it doesn’t move around.
Will it really save me time? Yes, but it’s not “instant” — it’s a catchy name, but definitely not true. Instant Pot recipe cooking times don’t include the time it takes to come to pressure and release that pressure when your food is done cooking.
Typically it will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure (about the time it takes to boil water). Releasing the pressure when your food is done cooking can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.
There are various ways to release pressure. You can let it release naturally, which takes the longest time. You can let it release naturally for a while then open the steam vent. Or you can open the steam vent to quickly release pressure.
I haven’t had it long enough to figure out which method is best for what I’m cooking, so I just follow the recipe’s directions.
Lest you think “well, what’s the big deal then?”, last night I cooked brown rice in my Instant Pot. Full disclosure, I have a rice cooker that I love and use frequently. It took me about 30 minutes to cook the rice (including the pressurization & depressurization time). It would have taken at least three times that long to cook the rice in my rice cooker.
Yes, it will save you time, and once it’s sealed and pressurizing, you can sit back and relax. And of course it uses far less energy than your stove, and since it takes far less time, too, you’re saving on electricity.
I have a crockpot. Why do I need something new? Of course you don’t need something new. But an Instant Pot is a crockpot, too. One review I read said the crockpot function didn’t work on their particular model, but I don’t remember what model that was. I haven’t yet tested out that function on mine, but I plan to this week.
There are many accessories you can buy for your Instant Pot, and apparently a crock is one of them. Be aware that my model (and most, I think) do not come with a glass lid, but it’s an accessory you can buy (useful if you’re using your Instant Pot as a crockpot). I’ve read that if you can find a glass lid from a pot that fits it, you can just use that — that’s my plan. Pretty sure I have a 6 quart glass lid but we’ll see.
How big an Instant Pot do I need? I thought I wanted the 8 quart version because I already have a 6 quart crockpot and I know that occasionally it’s too small for the job at hand. Tuns out the same crockpot and Instant Pot are different sizes, as you can see above.
A crockpot is a simpler gadget but doesn’t do as much as an Instant Pot. Pay close attention to the dimensions when you’re looking!
I’m also intrigued by the smaller 3 quart Instant Pot. It seems the perfect size for things like rice, oatmeal, quinoa.
Can I cook multiple things at once? Why, yes, yes you can. You can actually make one pot meals — but you do need a pot that goes inside your Instant Pot, which they sell, of course. I do not have one so I have not tried this yet.
Supposedly if you can find a pot that fits, you can go with that — but apparently if something happens to your Instant Pot, that could potentially void your warranty.
How hard is it to clean? Easy peasy. Wash with soap and water or wash in the dishwasher. Like a crockpot, of course, the inner pot does take up a fair amount of space. I’ve been washing mine by hand.
The inner pot is also far lighter than a crockpot, by the way.
I’m going to try to put together another post for tomorrow with more photos and talking more about what I’ve made so far and the results I got, as well as links to more resources.
Date Almond Bars
An oldie but a goodie, from Nutrition for Runners (not an affiliate link). These don’t even require cooking. You pulse together some oats, almonds, dates, cinnamon and salt until they hold together. Press into a pan and refrigerate.
I like to cut them into small pieces and roll them into little balls. They stand up surprisingly well to a long run.
I’m pretty sure I won’t be fueling with the rice balls from Feedzone Portables (Amazon Affiliate link) in my half, but I’m also pretty sure that I’ll be taking some along for snacks.
Essentially oats and sushi rice cooked together; you add some sea salt, some cinnamon, some coconut sugar and some chocolate chips. Roll them into little balls. Very easy to digest, very light.
My only problem when I tried them out on the run? Too messy. I do like them as a nice dessert for a meal where I want to stay generally low carb but still include a little carbs.
These were kind of a bust. Not because I didn’t like them; oh no, quite the contrary, maybe I liked them a little too much. Essentially equal parts brown rice syrup, nut butter, and protein powder microwaved together until they bubble. Add a little salt.
They’re kind of like malted balls. But they’re sticky, and they have a tendency to stick together on the run.
I really like these post run — so much that I found myself indulging in them too much. These came from ROAR (Amazon Affiliate link).
Fig Crumble Bars
I am so in love with these bars from Rocket Fuel (Amazon Affiliate link) I can’t even tell you. Like the Salty Balls above, though, rather high in calories. Which is fine while you’re running many miles, but maybe a bit too tempting when you’re not.
Plus, crumble. Although using my Amphipod SnapPod (Amazon Affliaite link), they actually stood up fairly well. I did the same thing with these as I did with the Date bars: cut them into little pieces and rolled them into balls. And while that worked, it was hard to cut them into really small balls.
You can try Fig Newtons, too.
Chocoloate Chip Cookies
The first time I made these cookies, I didn’t have the potato flour called for in the recipe. After some research I subbed in quinoa flour. I think I actually prefer them that way — I finally found potato flour (not the same as potato starch, btw), and made another batch with it after I ate up the first batch.
These really are quite plain, but they work for me.
So let me know in the comments:
Have you ever tried anything other than sport drinks, chews, or gels?
Have a favorite recipe/book to share with us?
How do you carry your fuel with you during a race?
I’m Thinking Out Loudabout10 of my favorite kitchen gadgets. And the super moon. PRing at a race I meant to use as a training run. Little body niggles.
Doesn’t get much more random than that!
Soooo Sleepy Was I the only one that had trouble sleeping the night of the super moon? I tossed and turned most of the night, and it didn’t much help that Giz decided to throw up a little grass right outside the bedroom around 2:30 am (but I’d rather he do it on the laminate than the carpeting on our first floor).
I don’t usually have trouble falling asleep — it’s staying asleep that’s the problem.
A holiday cleaner Most people do spring cleaning. I do Thanksgiving cleaning. Because I have to to whip the house into shape. Because most of the time no one sees it.
Getting ready for Thanksgiving would be a lot easier without the decluttering. Will my house get just as cluttered by Thanksgiving of next year? Probably. I get on organizing kicks and then life gets in the way (or running).
Another epic failure Did you read my race recap for Stockadeathon? If not, the short story is the plan was to use it as a long, supported run at race pace. Except I ended up PR’ing it (without trying to) at a pace that most definitely won’t be my race pace in my next half, unless FL gets a cold snap.
Clearly I really need to find me a half in the 40s!
I caved My next half is a bit over 2 weeks away. Yesterday I added that city to my weather app. I was actually pleasantly surprised by what I saw, but . . . 2 weeks away!
But I have to mentally pack even if I want get to the actually packing for more than a week.
I hate that my body rebels Seriously, I really try my best to give it what it needs — healthy food, a few treats, sleep (I did say try), movement . . . and yet I’ve had this on again, off again pulled muscle or something in my left leg the last few weeks.
Which meant I needed to take a few extra rest days this week. And missed out on running on the most gorgeous day on Monday.
Tis the season for giving I will probably have a lot of running related gift giving posts coming up, but today, since our host blog is a cooking blog, and I do love to cook/bake, too, I’m sharing some of my favorite tools for the kitchen:
Joseph Joseph Elevate Carousel Kitchen Tool Set
Seriously the best, because you don’t have to lay them flat on your counters and get food all over your counters. I gave a set to my mom, too, and she even moved them with her — she doesn’t cook a whole lot anymore and there are lots of things she didn’t move.
Cuisinart Mini Mate Chopper
After decades of use — no exaggeration — mine finally bit the dust. It still worked, but the plastic finally broke. I don’t use a garlic press — just a whirl in my mini mate, and presto! chopped garlic. Obviously it has many great uses (grinding herbs and nuts, for instance). In fact, you might want to get yourself two, so that garlic doesn’t overwhelm your nuts.
I can’t speak to the Nutribullet or the Ninja, having not tried them yet. I used my Magic Bullet to death — twice! Seriously, there are things it doesn’t handle all that well, but it’s great to make banana soft serve, to mix salad dressing, and a myriad of other uses.
It can struggle with harder ingredients like dates, for instance (unless well softened in warm water first), and that’s how I killed it the first time. Or so I thought. It was tucked away for years, and for some reason, I took it out one time and tried it and voila! It was alive.
Now it is going the way of my Cuisinart Mini Mate Chopper: plastic pieces are beginning to break off, and let’s just say it’s out of warranty and their customer service sucks. But it has been well used and served me well and I highly recommend it.
This is definitely a big list item, but I can’t live without my Vitamix. I’m not sure how long I’ve had it — at the very least 10 years. It’s beginning to get a bit long in the tooth, but it still works well.
I use it for smoothies, to puree soups, to make sauces, very occasionally as an ice cream maker, to puree cooked veggies. Anything that is too tough for the Magic Bullet goes into my Vitamix.
It cleans up well without having to ever go into the dishwasher. The only thing it doesn’t do well is small amounts of food.
Yes, it’s a big ticket item, but I highly recommend it for the serious cook. I’ve linked to a refurbished model to take the stink out of the price.
Real Simple Baking Mat
Gone are the days that you have to scrub your baking pans or waste parchment paper. I’ve been baking on this mat for years, and cleanup is easy breasy — I love it!
Quite a few years ago we took a cruise to Alaska, and I bought one of the Ulus offered on the ship. There were such beautiful ones available in the towns we visited, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something I wouldn’t use.
And I’ve been kicking myself for years for not buying one of the nicer Ulus. I’ll be honest — I don’t use it often, mainly because it has to be hand washed, and house cleaning just isn’t my thing.
Yet it is one of my favorite tools for chopping nuts and herbs. Obviously this is not the one I bought, but it actually looks a lot like it.
OXO Cookie Scoops
While I kind of wish these cookie scoops came in different sizes, I use them all the time. Over the years I have tried a variety of gadgets for creating drop cookies, and once I purchased this set I never looked back.
Spice Jar Spoons
You know how hard it can be to get a measuring spoon into a spice jar? This set makes it easy.
Long handle measuring cups
I have spent literally years trying to figure out the best way to store flours — and then the best way to get said flours out of containers without making a godawful mess. Mason Jars are my go-to storage vessels, and these scoops make it relatively easy to get at the contents. I just really wish this set came with a 1/3 cup spoon!
As I wrote above, a few years back I fell in love with all things Mason Jar. And it’s an ongoing love affair. My family has gotten used to seeing a mason jar tucked into their refrigerator when I travel (usually with a salad inside, or maybe some soup).
I use them to store food, baking ingredients, lettuce for salads (it keeps longer that way), smoothies, I travel with them — they are just so darn useful. And I love the cool colors they come in, too.
Whew! When I decided to put in some of my favorite kitchen gadgets, I didn’t think I had that much to offer. But once I got started — boy, I could go on and on! Maybe next week I need to do some of my favorite baking ingredients — what do you think?
I hope you find something on this list that makes your time in the kitchen a little easier.
Disclaimer: All the links above are Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and buy using my links, I will make a small amount of money. And I thank you for that.
The Jack Chi Bandit is supposedly a Jack Russell Terrier-Chihuahua mix. I don’t see the chi, but I definitely see the JRT. Mr. Judy found this link about that mix. A lot of it rang true for Bandit:
Extremely active with high stamina
They can be protective
If not taken care properly they can display bad behavior like space aggressiveness and can suffer from separation anxiety (yes and yes)
They are extremely intelligent and eager to please
They do not cope well with the cold (remains to be seen, but we’ll surely find out)
Responds well to positive reward training
They are usually quiet but do like to bark sometimes
They need attention and companionship
Bandit update Things have calmed down a lot with Bandit. We are slowly giving him more and more freedom in the house, although I made the decision not to try him on the furniture (where a lot of problems with him began) until after Thanksgiving. We’ll have 6 extra people in the house, so seating is at a premium, not to mention I’ve no idea how he will react to everyone.
He is extremely attached to his bed by the couch. So I’ve tried not gating him in the kitchen a few times, and having him in his bed while I’m working in the kitchen. Only invariably I turn around at some point and find him curled up in Lola’s bed. On the couch.
I must say he’s pretty good about getting back off when I tell him to.
If there’s someone on the couch, on the other hand, he generally stays put in his bed. We’re working on his stay . . .
When we first got him, he would growl at random people and dogs on our walks. I haven’t heard him growl at a person in a long time. Or a dog, for that matter.
On the other hand, he has also gone ballistic when walking by yards with dogs running around in them (like Monday). I was trying to work on getting him into a sit — it’s a great training opportunity — when he yanked the leash so hard with his shenanigans that I spilled the tin of treats all over the road.
On Tuesday, however, when the beagle who is always starting something walked by, I had them both in a sit and they both did quite well. So obviously it’s the dogs running around free that is bringing that out.
I’d love to start him on some agility — it helped Lola a lot with that. Plus it’s great mental and physical activity for them. I just need to find something closer to home, as the trainer’s classes are not close and with winter closing in, I’d rather not have to drive that far at night.
He sure calmed down when I get very annoyed at him.
Talk to me. Tell me in the comments:
What kitchen gadget is a must have in your kitchen?
I am not vegan; no, I’m not even vegetarian. Yet I often do eat vegan and vegetarian — I also eat meat, cheese, and fish; but I try to limit the meat and cheese, as I don’t consider them the healthiest options.
I do eat a lot of eggs, but as I said, I like to mix it up, so I do love vegan baking. Maybe someone in your family is vegan. Maybe someone in your family is allergic to eggs.
Never fear, you can still bake!
It is the end of an era: I feel as though my blog has grown up the Friday Five from Cynthia fromYou Signed Up for What?, Courtney fromEat Pray Run DC, and Mar fromMar on the Run, and today, while helping you bake without eggs, I’m also saying thanks to these three bloggers for helping me grow my blog. The Friday Five will be missed.
Each of these hacks is the equivalent of one whole egg.
Mix 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds with 3 tbsp water and let it sit approximately 10 minutes until it gels.
Flaxseed does have a nutty flavor, so take that into consideration when choosing where to use flax eggs.
Mix 1 tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsp water and let sit approximately 10 minutes until it gels.
I know, I know — this is the same thing as flax eggs, only using chia seeds. While flaxseeds will give a slightly nutty flavor to baked goods, chia seeds don’t — but they do have a tendency to stick in your teeth. On the positive side, chia seeds have a lot of healthy benefits, like lots of fiber and calcium, for instance.
Chickpea Four Mix 3 tbsp flour with 3 tbsp water.
I have not actually tried this method, although I do have quite a few chickpea flour recipes I want to try!
Banana One ripe banana (mashed).
This works well in anything sweet: pancakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, etc. The riper the banana, the more sweetness it will add. You may need to cut back on the sweetener — it all depends on your sweet tooth.
Pumpkin Use 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix).
Cinnamon Roll French Toast
Trader Joes makes a cinnamon roll bread that is really good — no doubt because each small slice has 9 grams of sugar. It’s actually been sitting in my freezer for at least 6 months, but this week I hit it up for French Toast. Twice.
I actually still managed to lose weight this week, which is sort of a mystery considering the sodium from the soup I was drinking all week and the sugar in this French Toast (I top it with nut butter, not syrup, so there’s that) and the fact that I ran right before my meeting, too.
New Frolic print from Skirtsports
I shared this on instagram (I’ll follow you if you follow me!) but this new print is just so cheery and cute and I want it in everything that Skirtsports offers (don’t forget Code CRJ20 for 20% off regularly priced items).
Scenes from my run
Yup, I got out for a couple of quick runs and enjoyed the wildlife at the park. Even if the ducks swam away from me.
I was actually concerned for the cow nearest the fence in the photo abvoe — she stuck her head through the fence, but as soon as I stopped to take a photo she pulled it back in.
Sushi . . . twice On Sunday my appetite was beginning to come back, but I still didn’t have the energy to actually get changed and go out, so we ordered sushi in (yes, one of my favorite places delivers, but sadly we couldn’t use the coupon Mr. Judy had).
He also had another coupon that was expiring on Tuesday, and we did go out so that we could use it then. We rarely go out to eat twice in one week, and definitely not sushi twice in one week!
Works for me. In the photo above I’m dressed to go to my Weight Watchers meeting, although I did wear a different dress and some heels to go out on Tuesday!
I have one more episode to watch, actually, but I should definitely finish it by the end of the weekend. A lot of nudity in it, and I do think a lot of it was actually kind of gratuitous, although some of it is important to the plot. I just think they went overboard.
I think they did a fairly good job with most of the casting, except for Frank. He definitely wasn’t as cute as I’d pictured him in my mind.
Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:
Do you pay attention to the sugar in foods?
What would be your pick for your last meal?
What was a favorite from your week?
* Disclaimer: this is an affiliate link. I make a very small commission if you buy this product from Amazon after clicking through my link.