Thursday, October 27, 2016

Celebrating #Oatober On the Trails with Vegan Chocolate Monkey Trail Bars

Post sponsored by Quaker Oats on of behalf of Influence Central #IC.

Yay! It's Oatober and time to celebrate.

My way of celebrating is to hit the trails and I can't think of a better way to get my oats than in a trail bar I can pack in my bag.
I've teamed up with Quaker Oats to come up with a recipe to incorporate into my routine. Of course the best recipe would be a trail bar I could use for fuel my hiking adventures. I love that oats are versatile and can easily fit into my lifestyle. I've always loved the taste of oats so using them in a recipe should be easy, right?

While reaching the far corners of my brain to create a trail bar, I had to think outside the box for inspiration. My adult daughter, Kalina, has been my cheerleader in getting me outside and exploring new trails. I wanted a recipe she could eat with her dietary needs and one that reminded me of her. Kalina loves monkeys and chocolate. Monkeys love bananas. That was it. I had three solid ingredients to work with, oats, bananas, and chocolate. From there it was easy. We use coconut oil for baking so I knew that would hold the bar together. I also wanted almonds for protein.

The Vegan Chocolate Monkey Trail Bars I created ended up being a great hiking bar. The added bananas make it moist which means they're easier to swallow than dry bars. I'm excited to share my recipe with my readers.

Vegan Chocolate Monkey Trail Bars
Printable Recipe

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Mix together the following dry ingredients:
    3 cups Quaker Old Fashion Rolled Oats
    2/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds  
     2/3 cup coarsely chopped dried bananas 
     ½  cup sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes
·      2 tablespoons chia seeds

·      1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a larger bowl stir together the following:
·      3 mashed ripe bananas
·      1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
·      ½ cup coconut oil
·      3 tablespoons real maple syrup

Add the dry ingredients and still until moistened. Do not over mix.
Fold in 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips or pieces.

Press the mixture into a 8x11 pan and cook 18-20 minutes.
Cut into bars.

I wrapped the bars in non-stick tin foil and packed them for hiking.
They held up well.

Be sure to check out Quaker for more recipes, tips and fun.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fresh Salsa and Smoothies with Oster® Pro 1200 Food Processor and Blender

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.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never made fresh salsa. I grow tomatoes every year and still haven't used them for salsa. I hate to see my fresh tomatoes go to waste and have always wanted to make salsa but imagined that it takes too much work. The minute I got my new Oster® Pro 1200 Food Processor and Blender, I vowed the first thing I would so with it is put my garden tomatoes to use and make salsa for the first time ever. My family loves fresh salsa and we're always excited when somebody else makes it for us. I never imagined it would be so easy for me to make in the Oster Food Processor. 

I didn't even need a recipe. I just checked out several recipes, made an inventory of what I actually had on hand and came up with my own. Here is what I added.

1 pound tomatoes (I used a variety from my garden)
 jalapeño peppers
1/2 large white onion
1 tbls. lime juice
1/2 teas. salt
2-3 tbls. cilantro

I cut the tomatoes, jalapeño, and onions into chunks and put into the food processor. I added the lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Then I turned on the power button, pushed the salsa button on my Oster Blender and within seconds, I had my first batch of salsa. It ended up tasting great and was mild enough it didn't burn. However, I think I'll add a serrano pepper to make it a little hotter next time. 

The best part about making salsa it is incredibly easy in the Oster Food Processor and takes so little work that I can't believe I've never done it before. I had a batch made up in less than 15 minutes.

Using the Blender

One of the great things about the Oster Pro1200 is that it is a two for one appliance. Besides the food processor, it also comes with a blender. We make a lot of smoothies with frozen fruit. I've found that most blenders don't have strong enough motors to handle the thickness from the frozen items.

The Oster Pro 1200 has a Dual Direction Blade Technology which gives the blender extra power so I don't have the smell a burning motor when trying to work in frozen fruit. The all metal drive makes it durable. In fact, my first smoothie in my new blender mixed together amazingly well and fast without the sluggishness I've experienced in other blender models.

My Smoothie Ingredients

1 Scoop chocolate whey protein
1 Cup Almond Milk
1 Banana
1/2 Cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 Cup spinach

I dumped all of the ingredients into the blender, turned on the power button then hit the smoothie button. The Oster Blender has a preset button for smoothies. It automatically adjusts the speed as it blends.

In no time, my whey protein shake went from boring to flavorful and extra nutritious. I got one serving of greens to jump start my day. My smoothie filled me up until well into the lunch hour. I'm excited to try some new combinations. 

The blender bottle is dishwasher safe which helps with clean up time on mornings when I need to rush to work or when I want to hit the trails. I'm impressed with my blender and food processor already. I would definitely recommend this to my readers. Especially those who want a jumpstart to new ways of using their fruits and vegetables.

Special Offer From Oster® and Target

Also, download Target's Cartwheel App HERE for more Oster promotions through the holiday season. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Clayton Peak Hike Via Guardsman's Pass: Peak Goal 15 of 16

Clayton Peak is easily accessed from both Brighton Ski Resort and from the top of Guardsman's Pass in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I did the hike from Guardsman's Pass. To get there, take I-215 and exit on Wasatch Boulevard (exit 6) and head south. Turn left on at Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (7-11 on corner) and drive to Guardsman's Pass where you take another left. At the top of the pass, before dropping down into Park City, is a parking lot which sits at the bottom of the trail.

A word of caution, the parking lot fills up fast on weekdays and is almost impossible to find a spot on weekends. It's best to go early.

The trail starts at the parking lot. Head south on the trailhead from the parking lot. Stay above the big white sign on the ridge line.

The first part of the trail is steep but has some shaded spots in the pines.

The climb through the pines is my favorite part of the trail.

At a flat part of the trail, the trail splits. Head straight for Clayton Peak. From here, you can go over peak and unnamed peak known as peak 10,420 or you can take the trail right and go around the peak but you won't be far from the peak. It's more fun to climb to the top and get a two for one.

From this point, you will see Clayton Peak. It's a flat trail across to the saddle then gets steep and rocky approaching Clayton Peak.

Along the saddle, looking to the right (west) is a Brighton Ski Resort lift.

The trail passes through boulders on the near the summit. It's helpful to have trekking poles to help with footing.

As always, the views from the top are stunning but even more so in the fall when the colors change.
Even though this is a short day hike, always bring water. I used trail shoes and had no trouble navigating the trail.

Trail Info:
Distance: 2.5 plus miles round trip
Elevation: 10,721 feet
Elevation gain: 1371 feet
Rating: Moderate
Other Names: Also known as Mount Majestic