Recipes for the Trail

Posted by on Sep 1, 2012 in For the Trail, Healthy Recipes | No Comments

Getting ready for a Couch Potato Hike with Easy Trail Recipes

This section of our website features many easy-to-make recipes for the trail. After all, you don’t want to be in the kitchen, you want to be on the trail!

Over the years, I have created and have been given many recipes that are perfect for the hiking Couch Potato.  A few key things I have learned is to ensure these snacks are portable, easily consumed (you won’t have a table to sit at on the trail), and always nutritious!  Of course, being the “Original” Couch Potato, these snacks are also delicious!

Each recipe includes the necessary ingredients (and sometimes suggestions for substitutions) and special instructions for taking it on the trail (you might have to keep it cool).  If you have comments or other suggestions for modifying the recipe, please take a moment to comment.

And, if you have some recipes that your fellow Couch Potatoes might enjoy, feel free to email them to info@forthecouchpotato.com - we’ll be sure to give you recognition!

Happy hiking and eating!

Easy and Healthful Snack

Posted by on Aug 30, 2012 in For the Trail, Healthy Recipes | No Comments

(In Hiking for the Couch Potato, this is called “Andrew’s Favorite Snack”)

An easy and healthful snack – My son Andrew loved and I still do!  As long as you are not allergic to peanuts, this tastes SO good!

1 apple per person – any variety you like will work

Peanut butter – crunchy or smooth – either will work

Core the apple (take out the seeds and hard area in the middle of the apple – plunge a small knife down near the center – dig down and remove the apple seeds until you get to the bottom)

Fill the hole with peanut butter.

Crunchy apple, rich peanut butter, such satisfying contrasts – sweet, salty, and tart.

Eat!

When preparing a snack, you want to be quick, have easy-to-store ingredients, and know that whatever you are making someone wants to eat.  After all, what good is food if no one wants to eat it?

Voila! – Easy and healthful snack- protein and fiber – and it tastes good!

This can become messy, so you might want to bring along something to wipe off a messy face.

You can put this in a small cooler bag to keep it cool to bring on the trail or just eat it at home.

Recovering from Hiking Injuries

Recovering from hiking injuries took me months.  How did I, the “Original” Couch Potato, get a hiking injury?

Just like everyone else, I tend to overdo things if I am enjoying what I’m doing.  As a result, I wound up with plantar fasciitis, a very painful injury that results from tiny tears in the tendon at the bottom of the foot.

I’ve been in labor during childbirth and I have to tell you, this hurts worse! (You mostly feel it when you first put your foot on the floor first thing in the morning.  If you have this happening, get to a podiatrist quickly!)

After hiking and walking much more than I ever had, I had not taken it gradually and, as a result, the injury resulted.

How to treat plantar fasciitis – which is not a treat

What do you do for plantar fasciitis?  According to my foot doctors – podiatrists – you stop walking as much as possible for about six weeks and let it heal!

Oh – sedentary again – not a good feeling!  But, I persevered and spent a lot of time getting ultrasound treatments to accelerate the healing.  I was also strapped to support my feet and strengthen them.

When my rehabilitation was complete, I started walking again and  – slowly  – gradually – began adding time to my walks and, eventually hikes.  Being careful was my strategy so I would not have a recurrence of hiking injuries.

Fast forward two years.  Again earlier this year, I woke up, put my foot on the floor and felt – uh oh!  Pain!  I made an appointment with my podiatrist right away.  This time I was fortunate and he said I was not bad this time.  After one try with a rocking support boot, we decided that a softer Velcro–strapped partial boot was going to do the job better.

Foot in soft brace to aid in recovering from hiking injuries

Using this soft brace enabled the Original Couch Potato to recover from a hiking injury of plantar fasciitis

Two weeks later, (after I had lessened my weight-bearing activities a bit), my foot felt healed. I started, again, to gradually increase my walking.

What do we learn from this?

First, learn not to overdo anything!  Our bodies will resist and respond in ways we can’t predict and probably won’t appreciate.

Next, find a good podiatrist who can help when/if you need one.  He/she will make all the difference!

And, most importantly, know that even if you have good intentions and get active, sometimes things might be a problem.  Be careful and take care of your body, since it’s the only one you have!  Learn from my experience and take it a bit at a time.  You don’t have to prove anything to anyone!  And, if you do the right things, you can be back hiking again! Recovering from hiking injuries is possible, but takes a little help and some patience.

Please don’t let a setback stop you from achieving the healthy results you can reach by consistently going hiking or healthy activities.  I did it, and you can, too!

After a break, the joy of hiking will be even sweeter when you get back on the trail again!

 

Original Couch Potato Visits Big Idaho Potato

Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in Kids Blog | No Comments

Couch Potato Meets Spuddy Buddy

The Big Idaho Potato is traveling across the country in celebration of the 75th year of the Idaho Potato Commission, and the “Original” Couch Potato just had to be on hand to join the celebration! Even more fun, was the introduction of the Hiking Couch Potato to Spuddy Buddy, the official mascot of the Idaho Potato Commission.

Hiking Potato gathering

Hiking Couch Potato meets the Big Idaho Potato, Spuddy Buddy and Friends

While visiting the giant spud, the “Original” Couch Potato also met the people who are accompanying the potato on its 7-month journey. Among those involved were Kaiti Frickey, who had heard about the opportunity to join the Big Potato via Craig’s List, and her friend, Ellis Nanney, who was also chosen from among the many candidates who applied. Paul Humbracht, their driver, was also there, chosen because of his ability to manage media relations and handle the miles of driving.

Couch Potato asked the three what was most exciting about their cross-country journey.  Kaiti mostly enjoyed “interacting with people and …seeing the ‘doubletakes’” on the part of people who saw the giant spud.   Her favorite potatoes are those she has for breakfast, since she loves breakfast – “Hashbrowns, with scrambled eggs, and with salsa” are her “faves.”

Ellis, a recent college graduation, really enjoys the travel. Having backpacked around Europe, his favorite potato recipe is a Spanish variety that involves potatoes, onions, and eggs cooked and flipped like a pancake – and served sandwich-style.  After the long journey is over, he plans to continue his travels by backpacking in South America.

Paul was handling the 3-4 hours of driving per day, but was looking forward to seeing his 7-year-old son, who was not able to fly out to visit.

The Big Idaho Potato and its wranglers were gracious and friendly – and planned to blog about the visit.  Their next stop, after a day in Phoenix, is Las Vegas. As for the “Original” Couch Potato and the Hiking Couch Potato, we are headed back to Maricopa after the visit, planning to continue spreading the word about healthy eating and getting active through various workshops she is offering to corporations, schools, camps, organizations, and libraries.

To learn more about the Big Idaho Potato, visit them on their official website – http://www.bigidahopotato.com/ – or become a fan on Facebook. We did!

Searching for the falls

Posted by on Aug 11, 2012 in Hiking Adventures, National Forests | No Comments

On a recent visit to Oregon, we decided we just had to go see a waterfall. The one my husband chose as a “Couch Potato Hike” – labeled easy – was Wahclella Falls. When we arrived, we found no parking in the lot nearest to the trailhead. Leaving the lot, we headed up the road, looking for a spot to park. Maneuvering into a spot with a drop-off, we settled in and got our gear to go hiking.

Wahclella Fall Trailhead Sign

The start of our 2 mile hike.

What we didn’t do was leave a pass in our windshield so we were “legal” to park in the area. Back at the trailhead, I decided to go back to the car and leave a pass so we wouldn’t be in trouble and have an unhappy surprise when we finished our hike.

Once out on the trail, the first part of the trail was quite flat, definitely qualifying as an easy hike. Then, just about 10 minutes after we started, we found the path was rocky, steeper, and not at all an easy hike.

We persevered. Further on, we were faced with a fork in the road. We chose the right fork, which went downhill. Not too much further, the path led us through switchbacks and got steeper. We kept going, eventually seeing a wooden ramp that headed uphill again.

 Wooden path at Wahclella Falls Loop

Part of the “not-so-easy” trail to Wahclella Falls

Uphill Climb at Wahclella Falls

Beyond the fork in the road & the switchbacks, lies the uphill climb to Wahclella Falls

 

Passing a family whose son had fallen in the mud, we could see rapidly flowing water and began to see the falls from a wooden footbridge.

Suddenly, we were just across from the falls, which has spewing water and making the air misty. Dozens of photos later, I hiked a little further to get another angle and more photos.

Wahclella Falls - Oregon

Well worth the hike…a stunning view of the falls

Satisfied that we had seen the falls, we headed back, knowing that we would complete the loop that started at the left fork we had previously not chosen. The way back was not difficult. We felt a sense of accomplishment that we had been able to see a waterfall and enjoy the rush of water, the power of nature.

And, you might wonder, why have I spoken of this?

Perhaps it is Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” personified. We chose a route, even though it was harder than we thought, and succeeded. It gave us something powerful to experience and remember. I was glad we’d taken the hike.

And the metaphor is that no matter what you experience – or how hard it is to be successful – you can learn something, and find a measure of pleasure and satisfaction, by just completing the task.

Hiking is just one way to enjoy nature. I invite you to find your own paths and create your own memorable success. See you on the trail!

For more great information on hiking Wahclella Falls or other great hikes in the area, click here.

For great information on a plethora of other hikes, all throughout the United States, consider purchasing your very own copy of Hiking for the Couch Potato!

Kicking Back after the Hike – A Visit to Beaver Street Brewery

Posted by on Aug 9, 2012 in Hiking Adventures | One Comment

Kicking back after the hike is an essential part of the experience.

After you’ve exerted yourself, a Couch Potato will need some sustenance. This is one place we’ve liked -

We’d been to Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff, Arizona before and trying the restaurant again was like coming back to an old friend. The place was bustling with people of all ages, friendly and efficient wait staff, and food served that exceeded expectations. The atmosphere has an old time décor, but everything is sharp and well-maintained.

I do believe I ordered the same thing I had the previous time – the Enchanted Forest pizza. This time I asked for it on a gluten free crust. The thin crust arrived crispy with slight burn spots from the coal-fired oven, giving it a smoky, earthy and delightful depth. The cheese was melted and wonderful. It was adorned with portabello mushroom and artichoke strips and fresh basil. Ah, the flavor and freshness!

My husband opted for a barbecued chicken pizza , also on gluten free crust. It was covered with a barbecue sauce that was not cloyingly sweet and a generous amount of chicken. He ate every morsel.

Now, we decided we could not resist dessert and wanted to try everything, so we tried the sampler, which included a chocolate bread pudding with sauce, an apple stout cake (using their own stout), and a seasonal fruit cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream. The seasonal cobbler was apple and cranberries. All of it was delectable. We had to resist the urge to lick the plate.

They serve children, but BSB is really more of a grown up place to indulge your taste buds. My husband also tried their Pale Ale, which they brew, and really liked it better than most he’s had.

Beaver Street Brewery is located on Beaver Street – but of course – in Flagstaff down the street from the old train station at 11 S. Beaver Street. They have even opened another facility – the Lumberyard Brewing Company with a slightly different menu – very large servings!

Beaver Street Brewery is open daily at 11:00 am and closed at 11:00 pm, except for Friday and Saturday when they are open until midnight. And, they don’t take reservations – no matter how large the party – a truly egalitarian philosophy.

Hiking Hats: Don’t leave home without them!

What the well-dressed hiker will wear

As a Couch Potato hiker, I would be remiss if I did not remind everyone to wear a full-brimmed hat on hiking adventures. The current trend to wear baseball caps is just not enough protection.

I can attest to that, as my husband has become a red-necked hiker far too often.

My hiking hat for many years has been a wide-brimmed hat with an adjustable crown (it includes a drawstring) and a chinstrap. Why the chin strap? When a gusty wind comes along, you will be glad that you don’t lose your hat! I know, because I was at an activity wearing my “Hiking for the Couch Potato” baseball-style hat and stepped outside on the Grand Canyon Railway’s train platform. In less than 30 seconds, my hat had blown away! (And they don’t back up trains! I put in a “Lost and Found” request, but it was never recovered. I hope some coyote is now enjoying wearing my hat!)

 

Hiking hat with brim is important hiking gear

Wearing a protective hiking hat makes a big difference!


  1. Go with a neutral, light color and light fabric. Dark colors attract the sun and heavy hats are no fun in the sun.
  2.  Find one that has vent holes to air things out. 
  3. Make sure you have a chinstrap – made out of fabric, not elastic, preferably with an adjustment “bead.” 
  4. Your nose should be totally shielded and your neck should be fully covered by the brim. 
  5. Have an adjustment pull for the size of the brim, which allows breathing room and airing so you don’t build up a lot of heat. 

 

A hiking hat is essential hiking gear

What the well dressed hiker will wear – a hiking hat with UV protection, a chin strap and adjustable brim with venting.

After many years of begging, cajoling, and rubbing on sunblock (and aloe on my husband’s sun-burned neck), I finally bought him a hat that has a long back brim that will truly cover his neck. Hurrah! Red is not his most flattering color.

Grand getting there – to the Grand Canyon

Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Hiking Adventures, National Parks | One Comment

If seeing the Grand Canyon is on your bucket list, a great way to get there is by hopping the Grand Canyon Railway, which leaves from Williams, Arizona. Taking the train for the two-and-a-half hour ride to the Grand Canyon gets you there relaxed and in style.

As in bygone days, the Grand Canyon Railway chugs along through what can be boring desert landscape that turns to pine forests. With such anticipatory delight as seeing the Grand Canyon, that scenery seems bland until you get to your destination after the 65-mile journey.

Grand Canyon Railway

At mile marker 57, we are only eight miles from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim

However, the Grand Canyon Railway provides entertainment to make the trip go quickly with a roving group of individual entertainers who fiddle, play guitar and banjo, and offer up jokes, singalongs and other participatory opportunities.

The customer care attendant (the staff member in charge of each car) does his or her best to make everyone feel at home. To the extent of that car’s offerings (there are four classes with varying perks and amenities provided), the passengers can experience plush, couch-like lounges, to large cushy seats in the domed observation cars, to Naugahyde double seats like an upgraded bus. The top two classes include a champagne toast at the end of the trip. Snack foods are offered in the three upgraded classes; coach class can find snacks for sale in the café car.

Grand Canyon Railway - Coach Class

Coach class has comfortable, two-person bench seating and large windows to catch the views.

Grand Canyon Railway - Observation Dome Car

Mark is the customer care attendant in one of the Observation Dome Cars.

Grand Canyon Railway - Luxury Parlor Car

Carol, a 12-year veteran of the Grand Canyon Railway, serves passengers in the Luxury Parlor Car.

After the trip, passengers disembark to spend almost four hours at the Grand Canyon before re-boarding at the Train Depot for the trip back to Williams. If four hours doesn’t seem like enough time at the Grand Canyon – and you are right – it isn’t – you can book a night at a hotel at the Grand Canyon through the Grand Canyon Railway. Then, you can stay another day – or more – so you can explore, hike, and see more sights.

At the Grand Canyon

When you arrive by train, you are near the shuttle bus that takes people around the Grand Canyon Village to places like the Visitor Center. You can start there, or you can climb the paved path that winds back and forth that takes you to the famous El Tovar Hotel and head past it to the Rim Trail just beyond it.

Grand Canyon Lodging at El Tovar

El Tovar has been providing lodging to visitors at the Grand Canyon since 1905!

And, beyond the Rim Trail is why you have come. You will see the Grand Canyon – stretching on forever, deep and layered, and hazy. Yes, lately it is hazy in the distance since there have been fires in Arizona whose smoke have drifted there and that make it harder to see some of the details further away. It is almost mysterious-looking. Vast is a great word to describe the endless layers and depth.

South Rim Grand Canyon

At almost 7,000 feet high, the rim of the Grand Canyon is breath-taking in many ways!

South Rim Lookout Studio

Every view of the Grand Canyon gives visitors inspiring new perspectives. (seen with Lookout Studio to the left)

There are a number of vantage points from which to see the Canyon, but you can walk any number of miles of the 11+ miles of the Rim Trail for an easy, paved walk. If you are staying for multiple days and are intrepid, you might have time for a hike down the canyon, a mule ride, or a group tour.

We didn’t have a lot of time as we stopped for a lunch and had some stops to make. However, we certainly can see what all the fuss is about!

Wending our way back to Williams

After our all-too-short stay at the Grand Canyon, we returned to our Luxury Parlor Car on the Grand Canyon Railway by 3:30 PM and settled down for a comfy ride back to Williams. We knew the Railway had more planned to entertain us.

Our attendant, Carol, alerted us that there was going to be a bank robbery. And, we had rules to follow! (Don’t hurt the robbers, put your hands up so they think you are surprised, etc.)

What a hoot!

When the train slowed and the bank robbers boarded and worked their way through the cars, whom should they be but the very funny Cataract Creek Gang who had entertained everyone before we boarded the train in the morning!

Robbery on Grand Canyon Railway

The quick-witted Cataract Creek Gang entertains passengers as they “rob” them. It’s all in jest.

A talented lot, they could ad-lib as needed and rise to the occasion when challenged by the passengers.

When one passenger challenged one of the robbers who was wearing sunglasses – “Since when do robbers wear sunglasses?” – the robber responded with a quiz on which two famous robbers had glasses. (His comrade in robbery coached the audience with the right answers.)

They were gleeful and looked for willing “victims” to perform their hijinx.

They certainly did not disappoint. As they headed to the next car, the “sheriff” showed up to apprehend them. However, as in the Old West, the law enforcement was not much more honest than the robbers. When asked how the “victims” (this is purely voluntary, by the way) could get their money back, the sheriff replied, “Money taken is kept as evidence in the Old West.”

The audience laughed appreciatively.

Back at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is affiliated with the Grand Canyon Railway, so the timetables and services are all nicely coordinated. All personnel are professional and friendly.

Grand Canyon Railway Hotel Lobby

The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel’s two-story lobby evokes a bygone era of luxury travel.

Grand Canyon Railway Hotel Standard Room

A standard room offers two queen beds and free wifi.

The hotel also has four classes of rooms that range from $109 per night (Standard Room with two double beds) to over $349 per night for the “Rail Baron” highest upgrade. The Standard Rooms are immaculate, while not fancy, but they are now sporting free WIFI in each room. All rooms now have triple-layered sheets which ensure that all bedding is clean. They have banished the bedspreads and just have contrasting decorative swags near the bottom of the beds.

Bathrooms are spacious and clean. They are now using the typical shower amenities in dispenser bottles that are fixed in place and have a pine scent. This is also part of their recycling campaign, as they also have small recycling bins in each rooms, as well as garbage wastebaskets.

The hotel also has Spenser’s, a dark-wooded pub, which was attracting a crowd, who seemed to be enjoying themselves. With a small menu, Spenser’s had a “Shepard’s” pie and a few other items.

Spenser's at the Grand Canyon Hotel

Spenser’s offers a place to kick back, grab a meal, and meet friends after a busy day at the Grand Canyon.

The hotel also has “The Buffet” restaurant that includes a pasta and meat carving station with soup and salad bar, and comfort foods like meatloaf and mac and cheese.

We opted to try one of the other restaurants in Williams and wound up seeing the Cataract Creek Gang perform in the street outside our restaurant. Those fellows sure work hard!

For a quick visit to the Grand Canyon – or a longer stay – we recommend a ride on the rails – it sure puts life in perspective and is a memorable experience.!

Enjoy healthy hiking in the heat – and other options for healthy activities

Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Healthy Living, Motivation | No Comments

Summer season starts with Memorial Day weekend and it is oh-so-easy to indulge in the many feasts with the extra calories and poundage that can add. In the heat of summer it is still possible to have a healthy hiking experience!

What can you do to preempt the pounds?

1) Get up a little early and walk while the temperature is still temperate – or bearable.

2) Taste a little of what you like. Savor the flavor.

3) Use smaller plates, which give the illusion of more food.

4) Organize excursions which involve walking or other active efforts. Even a walk in a mall – with them paying for the A/C- can give you some time to exercise.

5) Join a gym and seek refuge from the heat while you exercise. You might even meet new friends.

6) When you cook, put some of the food away in the freezer for future meals. That will keep it from being too accessible for nibbling.

7) Try some yoga – a kinder, gentler, but good meditative exercise that stretches and limbers you up!

8) Swimming is also a great, cooling exercise.

Healthy hiking is possible in the heat of summer – and the strategies we’ve suggested will help you stay healthy!

Enjoy!

New, Exciting Changes to Couch Potato Site!

Posted by on Apr 15, 2012 in Healthy Living, Hiking Adventures | No Comments

Although we haven’t been posting much new on the Couch Potato website recently, we’ve have been busily creating some new things.

First  - TA-DAH!

Our brand new book

Hiking for the Couch Potato Kid: Birds, Bugs, Butterflies and Other Beasties

is now available to tempt kids to get off the couch and go explore the outdoors.

Our new, full-colored, interactive children's book!

We have also set up a special page for kids to see on this website – (Just have kids hit the “Kid” button on the tool bar.)  On the kid’s page, there is space for them to record what they like about the outdoors.  We have some samples from the children’s book posted as well.

COUCH POTATO KID is a full-color book intended for children ages 5-8.  And, the good news – kids can write or draw in the book since it is meant for them to record what they see and think about when they are outdoors.

(At this time, we are not planning an e-book version, since that would defeat the idea of kids getting out and experiencing nature first-hand.)

Also, we have added more items to the STORE, so you can purchase the kid’s book right here, as well as a cute T-shirt.  Paypal is available to pay for all of the store items now.  This is secure and we will not personally ever see your credit card account numbers!  (However, we will need your mailing address and email to send you your purchases and confirm shipment.)

If you would like more than six books, please email us at orders@forthecouchpotato.com, so we can discuss a discount.

We are now offering workshops where the Couch Potato would come to your school, organization, or meeting and provide a group with individualized outdoor workshops. Please contact us at info@forthecouchpotato.com to discuss this!

ALSO – CHECK OUT THE FORUMS! THEY ARE NOW USER FRIENDLY – YOU CAN EVEN SIGN IN USING FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!


 

So much new and exciting happening – we can’t wait to get all generations excited about getting active in the outdoors!