Saturday, November 7, 2020

Blueberry Protein Bars

I've been making these protein bars for years, but the way I make them has evolved enough that it was time to write an updated blog post. 

It is also worth noting that these bars are perfect snack material for Feast Days. If you are not following the FASTer Way yet, Feast Days are when we strategically increase our food intake by 25%. For a lot of people on health journeys (trying to lose weight), this sounds like a crazy and even scary idea. However, eating MORE helps with metabolic adaptation and prevents plateaus.

  • That means the thyroid will be active and functioning which raises the metabolic rate increasing the fat burning process. 
  • It helps prevent muscle breakdown which also keeps our metabolism revved up. 
  • When we eat a little more than our body is expecting, our cortisol levels and hormones are in check and happily letting the body burn fat for fuel.
So, like I was saying, we aim to eat more food, but we still focus on whole food nutrition.

The recipe:

2 cups quick cooking gluten free oats

1 cup protein powder (I use vanilla)

1/4 cup organic buckwheat flour

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

1T chia seeds

1 tbsp cinnamon 

1 cup sunbutter

1/4 cup honey

6-8 oz blueberries (mash half)

I combine all the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients. Then I gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry. Sometimes I need to add a little water to help the mixing along. I toss the whole blueberries in last.

Spread mixture into a sprayed baking dish. Bake 350 degrees 15 min. Let cool. Cut and refrigerate.

If you make them, tag me in your post @amycainefitness and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Baby bella Taco Salad

Apparently fall is the best season for mushrooms.

I honestly don't eat mushrooms unless they are mixed in with something else -> gravy, salad, sandwich. 

They came to be on my radar when I started the final stage of my healthy gut journey. My functional medicine practitioner has me doing a Liver and Gallbladder detox to flush out any toxins that may have been present as a result of my bacteria imbalance. So, for five days (and I'm on day 3 as I write this) I will start my day with a very terrible detox beverage, take some supplements and only eat fruit and veggies (non-root). 

Back to the mushrooms :) I read somewhere that mushrooms can be used as a meat substitute, so I got a crazy idea to use them to make a taco salad. I bought an 8oz package of baby bellas at Whole Foods and used my mini chopper (like this one on Amazon) to mince them up. Once they were minced, I used them just like I would minced meat.

Baby Bella Taco Salad:

8oz minced baby bella mushrooms

Taco Seasoning:

4 1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp seasoning salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 tsp dried minced onion

1/2 tsp beef bouillon powder


I sautéed the mushrooms in taco seasoning and approximately 1/4 cup water for about 10 minutes. I suggest adding water in small amounts so that your minced mushrooms aren't soggy (learned the hard way).

Build your bowl - I use about 3+ cups lettuce (romaine and leafy green) and top with baby corn, Black beans (usually), salsa and avocado.

This is a great plant-based option for vegetarians who like taco salads! I'm not vegetarian, but I did a plant-based month with the FASTer Way VIP community and have kept some favorite recipes in my rotation.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Hiking: Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

Moderately hard = hard work, but totally worth it!

That's what we would say about the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail. This hike went on our list because it has amazing views.

This trail is popular, but because the trail head is located inside an affluent Honolulu community, it probably never really gets crowded. Which is good because it's an out and back. We decided to go on a Friday morning to avoid the weekenders and I think it worked. We checked in with the friendly guard at the gate to Waialae Iki, who took down our license plate number and gave us a parking pass, and made our way through the neighborhood to the trail head parking area.

They have some amazing views in this community!

We were the 6th car to arrive. It was a short walk down the street to the trail which starts off as the access road for the water department. It quickly turned to gravel, which is actually hard to walk on and then the typical Hawaiian red dirt. 

Although there were clouds lingering on the ridge that we hoped would scatter by the time we made it up that far, it didn't take long for us to get some views of what was to come. I'm pretty sure those clouds were also keeping all the humidity packed in on us. We were sweating!

The first part of the hike is best described as a slow and steady climb. Fortunately, there were plenty of places to stop and take peeks at the views that continued to get better and better.

We knew that the real fun began when we made it to the first of a series of steps - created to help hikers and erosion prevention.

I tried to count how many different sets of steps we came to but lost track. The trail would dip and rise in between and eventually the steps became a little more intimidating. 

Every so often we made it to electrical towers. The openings here were a great space to take a break and take in the views.

We used the All Trails app to track ourselves, but that didn't stop us from looking up and thinking we were almost there several times. The clouds blocking our view of the summit kept playing tricks on us.

The higher we got, the more it looked like the clouds were going to cooperate and make their move out of the valley.

Some spots along the trail were challenging and required using a rope to pull ourselves up. The ladders were convenient, but a little scary climbing up on the side of the ridge.

The closer we got to the top, the more the clouds cleared, which was good news for us. We didn't want to climb all the way up and miss out on the views.

After a final push to the top, we were at a tower but not quite at the summit with the 360 degree views. We had to walk to the left of the tower and follow the trail just a little bit more. Finally we spotted the end of trail sign and a single bench to sit on. We took a break there and waited for the clouds to finish blowing by.

Once the clouds cleared, we took our time taking in the views. We spotted Kailua in the distance, Bellows AFB, Flat Island where we swim to and the Mokes. Right before heading back down, we decided to take a selfie on a timer and got swarmed by a bunch of gnats!

Going down wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, thanks to mrC helping me. Even though the clouds lingered just above us, the views were even more amazing on the way down. I loved seeing Diamond Head and Waikiki in the distance. 

Other than my knee getting a little cranky, there was no trail first aid administered on this hike unlike when we did the Aiea Loop Trail. A few hamstring stretches were all I needed to finish.

And just like that, we crossed off another hike from our bucket list. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hiking: Aiea Loop Trail

I would have loved to explore a little on the Big Island or return to Kauai for our anniversary this year, but since inter-island travel in Hawaii is still subject to COVID quarantine, we decided to go for a hike. We have actually been checking hikes off our list, I just haven't blogged about it...until now. 

We choose the Aiea Loop Trail from the list of popular hikes for a couple of reasons: 

  • it's a loop - which I prefer over an out and back 
  • it's rated moderate - so not easy but also not hard
  • it can be muddy and since we've been in a bit of a drought on Oahu, it was good timing
It was about a 20 minute drive to Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area for us. As we headed up the hill through the Aiea Heights neighborhood to the parking area, it started to rain. Ha! The weather app on my phone claimed it would only last about 30 minutes, so we went for it. I admit that I was in full hiking mindset and excited to be in my hiking shoes and hiking shorts again, so a little rain wasn't going to stop me.

It was our first time to this park and we were unfamiliar with the different parking areas in relation to the trail head, so we grabbed a spot in the first lot we came to. There were public restrooms and covered picnic areas under the massive trees. mrC spoke to a nice gentleman who had just finished his trail run who pointed us in the right direction and gave us his best tips.

Our hike began with a half mile warm-up walk UP the road to the trailhead. We passed camping areas and more parking before finally seeing the start. Starting at this trail head sign takes you counter clockwise around the loop, which at the time we didn't realize made that big of a difference.

The first thing we noticed was the beautiful Hawaii red dirt. mrC explained to me that is is a result of the island being created from volcanic activity and the soil has high iron content. 

It rained lightly off and on during the beginning, so by the time we made it to the first overlook, the benches were too wet to sit on. We got a great pic of the roots before moving on. When it was raining, I was in keep it moving mode, as if that would help us stay dry! 

Even though a ton of cars drove by us when we were making our way up the road to the trailhead, we weren't seeing many people on the trail at all. 

I had read a tip on the AllTrails app to explore the short side trails when we came upon them. The first one we had to climb up a short ways, but it gave us a great view over Aiea and all the way to Pearl Harbor. You can see a tiny bit of a rainbow.

The trail at this point was mostly flat. In some places it was very wide and others it narrowed quite a bit. The drop off could be pretty steep along the edge, so I liked to hug the inside. My knee did not like that.

This hike definitely had great views of the valley. If you wondered what fall looks like in Hawaii, here it is! Not being a plant expert, I can't tell you what we saw or what we smelled but the aromas were amazing!

Great background for a selfie with my hiking buddy!

Eventually we made it to another seating area that opened up to a large view of the Halawa Valley. 

It was occupied by some young hikers and their dads having a snack, so we didn't get to sit. They did help us get a pic though.

At this point, we were trying to take in all the nature around us and stay dry between the showers. 

Right after these steps, the trail became muddier and my toes started rebelling at being in normal shoes (not flip flops) for such along period.

The highlight of the trail is the amazing view overlooking the H3 Highway. This was the turning point of the hike. We got several glimpses that kept getting better and better until we came to the main overlook.

Another highlight along this trail is the wreckage of a B-24J. We weren't sure we would be able to see it, but it was right below the trail and easy to spot.

The rest of the hike, we took in the more of the nature surrounding us. I loved seeing all the Norfolk trees and can't wait to get one for our Christmas tree this year.

We kept things moving at this point. We stopped a couple times to take in the beauty and twice for me to administer a little first aid to my toes. Hiking lesson of the day: trim toenails and apply vaseline before putting on socks. Also, carry bandaids in backpack.

A little over a mile from the end of the hike, we realized that we should have gone clockwise on the loop to avoid some major uphills at the end on super tired legs and a cranky knee. The cherry on top was the steps we had to climb to get back up to the road and walk down to where the car was parked.

Back at the car we cleaned up at the rest rooms and changed into dry clothes. I carried a lot of mud with me off the trail.

Even though I enjoyed the hike, it felt really good to take my hiking shoes off and put my flip flops on. We were both impressed that my leaf band-aid held up so well. I wish I had thought to do it sooner than I did.

Overall, this was a great hike!

Maybe this will show our age, but we were a little achey, so we sat in the hot tub for about 30 minutes after dinner, haha! 

Have you hiked the Aiea Loop Trail?