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Normally in the years past, grilling is a past time I enjoy year round…but I’ve been a slacker and am once again trying to redesign my life-style. Recently I participated in a quasi health study in which I confirmed that my cholesterol is much higher than it should be, but aside from that, I’m in tip top shape.

What does this mean to me and my change in life-style? Sadly enough, the butter, bacon, baked goods, and cheese need to be eliminated for a while and eaten in a moderated fashion after I’ve regained the levels of cholesterol that are recommended. The bright and beautiful silver lining to this ominous cloud is the fact that we are on the brink of Spring and in Denver, CO this means I can get on my bike to exercise, the garden is beginning to grow, and the cornucopia of delicious vegetables are coming in greater variety and abundance. What I need to replace those bad-habit-foods are high-nutrient veggies that provide for a better source of fiber. The following is the beginning of a year long journey with my body to make sure it is a better machine to take with me on the many explorations I hope to embark on in the years to come.

Luckily, I work for the best market in the world that offers such an amazing selection of veggies, I can hardly figure out what I’m going to eat while I’m there. I finally figured it out this time and I this is what I found; Belgian Endive, Eggplant, Kale, Tofu, and yes there is still some cheese in the meal (Rome wasn’t built in a day).

The idea for the eggplant was to create a version of Caprese Salad using the eggplant in place of tomato as good tomatoes are difficult to find this time of year. All is to be grilled though:

Everything on the grill was prepared with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the tofu had cayenne dusted over it as well. I grilled the kale until the edges were lightly blackened, the endive halved and flat side down until grill marked, the eggplant until tender, and the tofu until dark golden and firm.

The finished product smelled so good I could hardly keep it out of my mouth long enough to plate it for the blog. While at the store I decided to try a local hot sauce that is to be drizzled over the tofu.

I have a basil plant growing in the house, balsamic vinegar and olive oil are also on hand to create the final dish.

With everything on this plate, it’s hard for me to choose a favorite, but the endive is the one that I devoured first and I could have had just a plate of that and been happy, but I would have hated to miss the rest of it. Healthy eating is certainly no punishment for me, and I’m looking forward to my journey to good cholesterol levels, by way of delicious veggies, bike riding, hiking, and adventure!

Cheers!

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There is a hike that is close to home, is challenging, and has breathtaking views. Green Mountain is its name, and it shouldn’t be confused with the much smaller Green Mountain (hill) in Lakewood, CO. Driving from Broadway and Baseline in Boulder, head west on Baseline Ave past Chautaqua Park. There is a bend to the left, and as it starts to go right there is a driveway that takes you to the parking area for Green Mountain’s trail heads. There you can choose from Gregory, Saddle Rock, and Amphitheater trails. Eventually, these three trails will lead you to the E.M Greenman trail which will take you to the summit. Hikers who might consider themselves beginners will find this trail to be on the lower side of difficult, intermediate – Moderate, Expert – Easy. I have a trail difficulty calculator which can be located here. This hike, round trip is 6.6 miles, and has an elevation gain of 1400 feet; some say the equivalent of a short 14,000 foot mountain or 14er as us avid hikers like to call them. Generally, this hike takes me roughly 3 hours round. Connor, my son, is 6 years old, and will be turning 7 this November. I told him the day before that we were going to get to the top this time. We had been out on a few other occasions where it just didn’t work out, but this time he seemed to be on board. We went to the grocery store (not to be named), and picked up some energy bars. I told him to go find some fruit, his favorite, which we would save until we made the summit. This was to be his “King of the Mountain” food, our victory food. We made it to the trail head for Saddle Rock somewhere around 9am. Saddle Rock has bigger steps and rises faster than the others, and I thought this one may work out better since it was the last one we tried. Connor can be hard to motivate, so we just took it in sections. I drew pictures in the dirt for him along the way to show him our progress. There was a bit of, “How much further is it?”, but a tolerable amount. He gets focused though, and once that happens, he’s like a pro. He takes the lead, he charges the dangerous sections and gets through them with ease. The trail gives us a look at the green belt that stretches north of Boulder, climbs that take you off the trail which take you a little higher for a different perspective, and even wild raspberries to snack on if you pay attention. We reach the summit, we explore a bit, then I have Connor make his final climb to the top of the giant Boulder at the summit. I asked him, “What do you see?” “Wow.”, he replied. My job was finished. I pointed out to him Eldora (the ski resort he learned to snowboard at), then he signed his name in the Colorado Mountain Club Ledger that is kept in the pile of rocks on top of the boulder (afterward he mentioned that he made his “r” too big). We came down off the boulder and ate our victory food (Connor with his pistachios and me with my pink lady apple) and rested for a good half hour before starting back. Connor chose our route on the way back, and he chose a different trail leading down called Ranger Trail, which leads back to Gregory, and home. Half way down we arrive at what looks like a rental pavilion for parties but out of commission for years I assume. We rested. Connor’s little legs were getting tired, but we still stopped for the butterflies. We even stopped for a special little inch worm. We ran out of water three quarters of the way back and that last half mile seemed like alot more, but we made it. 5 hours altogether. I’m proud of that boy…I think he’s proud of himself too.

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Getting Started

As you may realize, roasting vegetables is something I love to do. Somehow it feels healthier and fresher than steaming, or sauteing; the only other way I prefer them is grilled, but some veggies are more difficult than others.

Ingredients:

About 20 Brussel Sprouts – trimmed and halved
6 Cloves of Garlic
1 TBS Butter
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 Cup Chablis
5 TBS Rice Vinegar
2 Lemons
6 Strips of Bacon
1 Fresh Sprig of Oregano
1 TBS Brown Sugar
10 Hazelnuts

Halved Brussel Sprouts on a Baking Sheet

With half the olive oil over medium low heat, press 3 garlic cloves into the oil and let simmer for about 3 minutes; not to cook but to infuse the oil with the garlic. With the sprouts in a bowl, pour the oil and garlic over top, toss to coat, and arrange on a baking sheet flat side down. With the oven preheated to 425 degrees, they will take only 20 minutes.
With the oven hot, toast your hazelnuts for about 3 minutes, then crush to add as a topping later.

Just Out of the Oven

Crisp the bacon in a pan. Pour the drippings into a sauce pan and bring to simmer on medium heat, add the butter, remaining oil, chablis, lemon juice, brown sugar, vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, season to taste. Put in a small food processor or blender, the rest of the garlic (pressed), fresh oregano (minced), pour dressing in and blend. Chill everything.

The parmesan crisps are super easy as well; with fresh parmesan, shred a cup worth. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Heap the parmesan in four separate piles, and gently push them out a bit. Bake for 3 minutes or until golden, this will vary depending on the size of the pile.

Construct:

Sprouts in a bowl
Piece of Bacon
Piece of Parm Crisp
Dressing
Hazelnuts for topping

Voila!!! Yum...

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Red Rocks Amphitheater, 9am, Morrison, CO, 6/23/2011.

Red Rocks is an exercise and music mecca considered my musicians to be one of the greatest venues in the US.

Since I’ve been here, I have only been here for four shows (I think); Rush, Mark Knopfler w/ William Topley, Rush (again), and Big Head Todd & the Monsters. The acoustics are good, the ambiance is unparalleled. Many musicians in fact have recorded their live performances for CD and DVD release including: U2, The Dave Matthews Band, John Denver, The Moody Blues, and Incubus, to name a few. Geddy Lee of Rush said, “It’s an amazing location. One of the most beautiful concert venues in America…or anywhere. I would hazard a guess that it’s one of the most beautiful anywhere.” I certainly agree with that.

Though its hard to show up there on a day when there are hardly any people around, its a peaceful place where one might go to just be.

Them Crooked Vultures.

These guys are an all-star team of rockers. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin built this who’s who with David Grohl (formerly of Nirvana, Foo Fighters), and Joshua Homme (formerly of Queens of the Stone Age).

I’m not not a huge fan of Queens, though admittedly, I don’t know them well, Josh Homme’s voice is as the child of Layne Staley of Alice in Chains and David Bowie; his even-flow transitioning and edginess stands out here unlike in his previous work. David Grohl’s eclectic style is a great match for the music they’re playing; I have to say that I haven’t noted anything special from John Paul Jones yet, but I also have yet to listen to this self-titled album on quality speakers. I’m lovin’ it!

Check them out!