Friday, September 30, 2016

Quick Gluten Free Meals with San J Tamari Sauces

I received this product for free from Moms Meet (, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own. 

As a child, meal preparation included me and my sisters banding together to help my mom. Most of the time, dinner took about two hours including prep time, sitting down together, and the clean up. Those dinners gave me a love for home cooked meals and taught me how to read recipes to cook from scratch. I still prefer home cooked meals as do my grown up children and husband but that doesn't mean I always have time to make dinner. With mountain bike practice twice a week and me working, it doesn't leave a lot of time for meal preparation.
To add a kink in our meals, my adult daughter had to go on a gluten free diet. When she eats with us, I have to find gluten free options the whole family will like so I don't have to cook two different meals.

I was thrilled with the opportunity to try some new San-J Gluten Free Sauces. We already use their soy sauce but I had never tried the Thai Peanut Sauce or the Orange Sauce. With the San J Orange Sauce, I was able to have a meal ready in less than 30 minutes and it was one the whole family enjoyed. 

After putting the rice in the rice cooker, I cooked the chicken in a little bit of olive oil. As it was cooking, I cut up cucumbers and fruit for our side dishes. After the 10 minutes it took to cook the chicken, I added the orange sauce. This was one of those no recipe needed fast dinners. My family really liked the taste of the orange sauce and ended up being better than the other two brands I've used.
 I usually don't have extra family members around to help cook like my mom did but I was still able to beat her prep time by quite a bit.

As for side dishes, San-J has some awesome recipes on their website that are really easy to prepare. I tried the Thai Peanut Pasta Salad with gluten free noodles. I used the fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from my garden. All I had to do was cook the noodles, cut up the vegetables and add the San-J Thai Peanut Sauce. Honestly, I wouldn't have thought to use the peanut sauce this way but it was a nice change to what we usually make.

While it the pasta salad didn't end up being our favorite recipe, it is still one we would make again.
With all of the flavors of San-j sauces, I can't wait to try even more recipes. 
Next up is the Mongolian Stir Fry and Marinade Sauce.

I like that the sauces are made with 100% soy instead of 40-60% wheat blends of other sauces. It's crucial to have a gluten free sauce when my daughter joins us for dinner and the higher soy concentration sauces make them taste better anyway. I've done away with buying regular and gluten free soy sauce and made the switch to all gluten free.
Besides being gluten free, San-J Sauces are organic, kosher, vegan, and Non-GMO Project verified. The boys in my family could care less about all of that. They just want to eat something that tastes good and San-J passes the taste test with them.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hiking Cardiff Peak From Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah: 2016 Peak Goal

Cardiff Peak can be accessed from Big or Little Cottonwood Canyons. I hiked it from Little Cottonwood Canyon. While I enjoyed this hike for one of my quicker peaks, it's certainly not as picturesque as some of the other peaks I've done this year. Cardiff Peak is also known as Pole Line Peak which is evident with all of the power poles along the way which really is distracting to the overall beauty if the hike.

Getting There

Drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon past Alta's entry 1. Look for Shallow Shaft Restaurant on the left side of the road. Just past this restaurant is parking on both the left and right sides of the road which is about 8.2 miles from the Y junction at the bottom of the canyon. I parked on the left side as the trail begins on this side. Park here and walk down the road past the Shallow Shaft Restaurant. Take the short paved road by the Alta Police Station and the Our Lady of the Snows Church. The paved road changes to a gravel road which I followed around the police building. Follow the road to the snow study plot. There are bunch of ropes around this area which is a training area. Turn left past the plot. Watch for a trail sign pointing left. Here the trail is still wide but will narrow.

After a short climb on this part of the road, the trail sits on the left. The day I hiked, there was a small cairn marking this trail. At this point the trail narrows which is how I knew I was on the right trail.

There are a few rocky switchbacks before the saddle but the route is pretty direct. My favorite part of the hike is the short trail through the trees before the saddle.
 It is short hike at only one mile each way and the summit can be reached in less than an hour. I was able to do the round trip in an hour and half and that included the ten minutes I spent stopping at the top and exploring the summit.

At the saddle, the trail continues on the left along the ridge line and past the pole. Don't be confused by the trail that is just below the ridge line. While it is possible to summit from this trail, it is not the right trail and will add a more treacherous climb at the end. I know, I did this but I walked across the ridge line on the way back. As with many peaks in Utah, the ridge line is rocky and can be treacherous. I wore trail running shoes for this hike but the rocky terrain at the top is not something I would run on. 

Much of the trail is steep with a 1360 feet of vertical elevation gain that takes you to the top of the 10,277 foot peak. 

The views from the top are amazing. To the south are Alta and Snowbird ski resorts.

View of ski resorts from Cardiff Peak

Mt. Superior can be seen directly west of Cardiff Peak and can be summited the same day for those who are more motivated than me.

Mt. Superior from Cardiff Peak.

For my first time readers, my 2016 goal was to climb 13 peaks. Cardiff peak is my 14th peak this year and I have since raised the bar and decided to do 16 peaks for the 2016 year. 

For those looking for a good pair of trail running shoes and love shopping online: Road Runner Sports is offering my readers 10%-20% off their order. Use the following link and add the coupon code at checkout.

Post contains affiliate links.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dry Snugs Luxury Microfiber Towels by Travel Snugs: Product Review

Product received at no charge to facilitate review.

I can't count how many times my family has been on vacation and had to find a store that sells towels for either a day at the beach, a waterpark or another outdoor activity. Finding a good travel towel is long overdue. I've used microfiber towels before but I'm really impressed with the DrySnugs Microfiber Towels in comparison to what I already own. I like that these towels come in a compact carry case. It is perfect for traveling and doesn't take nearly as much room in my suitcase as the terry cloth towels we've had to purchase while on vacation.

 I was pleasantly surprised at how large these towels were after pulling them out of the compact carry case. The smaller towel is quite a bit larger than a hand towel. I like to take it to the gym as it works well in absorbing sweat. The larger towel is plenty big to wrap around my body. It's also great for laying on the sand at the beach and is comfortable to sit on while still being easy to shake off. The microfiber fabric absorbs water well and can hold more water than many of the bath towels I own. These towels are great for camping too as they dry quickly in comparison to regular bath towels.

I have already added these to my suitcase so I don't forget them on my next trip. I will end up saving a lot of money and time by not having to purchase towels again.

Rating ★★★★★

Saturday, September 10, 2016

2016 Peak Goal: Gobbler's Knob Hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah 13 of 13 Peaks

Saddle to Gobbler's Knob Peak

Gobbler's Knob is one of the peaks that can be accessed from both Millcreek and Big Cottonwood Canyons. The short route is from Big Cottonwood Cayon at the Butler Fork Trail head which is the way I chose for my 2016 peak goal. When I set out at the beginning of the year to make it to the top of 13 peaks, I thought it would be a challenge which it was. Gobbler's Knob ended up as my 13th peak and I realized it would be more fun if I tried for 16 peaks for 2016. Since I made my goal, it's fun upping the ante. 

Gobbler's Knob sits at 10,246 feet and is the highest point of the ridge separating Millcreek and Big Cottonwood Canyons.

Getting There

Head east up Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Butler Fork Trailhead is t about 8 1/2 miles up the canyon with parking on both sides of the street. It is well marked as it is a popular trail. A steep climb near the stream marks the beginning of the trail but levels out to a steady climb. 

The first fork in the trail is for Dog Lake and Mill A Basin. Stay on the Mill A Basin branch. The next part of the climb is my favorite. The trail continues through aspen groves and some switchbacks and is runnable for those who like to trail run. 

There is another fork for the Desolation Trail. Do not take the Desolation trail. Stay on the trail toward the saddle between Gobbler's Knob and Mt. Raymond. Right before the final ascent to the saddle, there is a trail that turns left across the base of Mt. Raymond. Do not turn here. Stay on the trail that goes straight up the saddle. Once on the saddle, turn right toward Gobbler's Knob. 

It does get steep and rocky in sections along the trail. The hardest part is dealing with the false peaks. I thought I would at the top only to discover I had a little more to go. That's always mentally tough for me. However, once I pushed through the false peaks, it was so worth it.

Me at the top: Gobbler's Knob overlooking Millcreek Canyon
Yay for me. I accomplished my 13 peak goal and decided at the top of Gobbler's I would go for 16 peaks for 2016 since I still have a few months left to the end of the year. I did learn a lot about myself hiking peaks this summer.

A few things I learned along the way of meeting my goal:

Climbing peaks is hard.
Sometimes things get in the way we have no control over (like injuries sidelining me for months)
It's hard to find hiking partners when you're pushing 50.
The views from the top are incredible.
I can do hard things.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Mt. Raymond Hike From Butler Fork Trail: Utah Hikes 12 of 13 Goal

Mt. Raymond in Utah

One of the great things about many of the peaks in Utah is that some of them can be accessed by trails in two canyons instead of one. Such is the case with Mt. Raymond. I accessed it from the Butler Fork Trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon but it can also be accessed from Millcreek Canyon.

Getting There:

Head east up Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Butler Fork Trailhead is t about 8 1/2 miles up the canyon with parking on both sides of the street. It is well marked as it is a popular trail. A steep climb near the stream marks the beginning of the trail but levels out to a steady climb. 

There is a well marked fork in the trail. Look for the sign that says Dog Lake and Mill A Basin. Stay on the Mill A Basin branch. The next part is my favorite part of the trail. 

As it climbs again it passes through aspen groves with several switchbacks. I like the shade and the fact that the trail is nice enough to do some trail running.
At the junction of Desolation Trail turn left at the sign. Do not follow the sign to Desolation. Follow the trail in through Baker's Pass to the saddle between Gobbler's Knob and Mt. Raymond. Before getting to the saddle, there is a trail that branches left, stay on the trail straight ahead to reach the saddle. 

Mt. Raymond Saddle

Once on the saddle or ridge line, turn left toward Mt. Raymond. This is the hardest part of the hike. The trail climbs another 1000 feet to the summit and is rocky on the approach.

Final push to Mt. Raymond summit

There is an area called the knife edge (not pictured) so named because it looks like a slippery edge. A faint trail goes through the area to the final rocky scramble at the summit. While I did this hike alone,

I would advise doing it with somebody. It is considered a class 3 so isn't super hard at the end. 
The peak sits at 10,241 feet and is about 4 1/4 miles from the trail head. I would allow about four to five hours for the average hiker or less if adding some trail running.

Since I was trying to reach my goal of 13 peaks and I was so close to Gobbler's Knob, I did both peaks in the same day. I'm glad I did Mt. Raymond first as it was the harder of the two peaks.

Top of Mt. Raymond feeling like it's the top of the world.

A great day to accomplish my goal and to make the decision to add a few more peaks to my goal. 
For those who want the world to know they made it to the peak, look for a metal tube. Inside is a journal of those who made it. I didn't sign in but lots of others did and will continue to do so on this popular hike.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Marsboy Dog Seat Cover Review

Product received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

I often pick up Koda, my daughter's dog, to take hiking with me. No matter what trail I pick, he always manages to find water. He can't stand on the side to get a drink, he has to get his whole body in the water. By the time we get to the bottom of the trail, he is a muddy mess. Frankly, as much as I like having Koda for a hiking buddy, I hate what he has done to the back seat of my car.

I'm thrilled to finally find something that protects my seat and makes Koda happy by not getting relegated to the very back. The Marsboy Dog Seat Cover keeps Koda in the backseat and keeps my seat from getting muddy paw prints all over it. I'm really impressed with this seat cover. It has a non slip backing so it stays in place even when the dog walks back and forth. 

When the cover is attached to the back seats and the seats in front, it becomes a hammock and creates just enough shield that it keeps Koda from jumping up to the front seat. It also acts as a bit of a barrier when stopping.

When Koda gets wet, I don't have to worry about my seat getting wet as the seat cover is waterproof. It's also well made and holds up well to lots of use and fits the back seat of our cars well.

FTC Disclosure: Product received at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Regardless, I only accept products that I would normally use and enjoy and base my review upon actual experience.

This item can be purchased on Amazon.