A Journey Through Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is located approximately 140 miles east of Los Angeles and a short distance to neighboring Palm Springs area. This protected land is comprised of vegetated high desert and low desert making up this extraordinary national park.
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This park has many interesting and diverse parts that will appeal to any exploring hiker.

Much of this land expands across both the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and is home to a variety of species living in this desert ecosystem. Here are a few of the living residents of this amazing national park:

Big Horn Sheep
Chuckwalla
Cactus wren
Beavertail cactus
Greater roadrunner
Desert tortoise
Desert iguana

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Vegetation includes:
Joshua trees
Prickly pear cactus
Hedgehog cactus
Juniper
Scrub oak
Mojave yucca
Cholla cactus
and many more.

Our day of exploration at the park was on National Public Lands day so we enjoyed an entry fee free day. The next fee free day at the parks is November 11, Veterans Day. As we continue our journey through this park, we were more amazed the further we went. The beauty, quiet, serene, and peaceful ora of the desert is intoxicating.

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Big Horn Sheep
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Barker Dam Hiking Trail

We were lucky enough to also spot some big horn sheep and capture them wandering around near the Barker Dam area of the park.

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Some of the key points of interest that you may wish to explore on your visit to Joshua Tree National Park are listed here:

⭐️Quail Springs
⭐️Keys Ranch
⭐️Barker Dam
⭐️Hidden Valley
⭐️Keys View
⭐️Ryan Mountain
⭐️Lost Horse Mine
⭐️Geology Road Tour
⭐️Cholla Cactus Garden
⭐️Cottonwood Spring
⭐️Indian Cove

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Joshua Tree   fitlifeandtravel.com

Barker Dam Trail

Check out the hiking trail at Barker Dam: a short, easy pleasant trail to the historical dam. And wow those boulders and rock formations are incredible!


Skull Rock Trail


Hidden Valley

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Hidden Valley Camping area

Camping is also allowed and the sites are located near impressive boulders and lovely trails, this particular site is located at Hidden Valley; this area was where a cattle rustlers hideout was.

Views throughout the park:

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Quiet, serene and peaceful surroundings.


Silver Bell Mine

Cholla Cactus Garden
This garden is comprised of jumping cholla, so you do need to be careful and cautious as you stroll this attraction. It is a bit mesmerizing as the endless number of cholla cactus dominate this particular area of the park.

The cholla cactus (jumping cholla) with its barbed spine, are known to attach to skin, fur, and clothing.

The day we tipped toe through this garden, a female in the group in front of us ended up with a cholla spine in her shoe, and it appeared to go all the way through the rubber sole of her shoe.

Another side note; be cautious of bees near and around the cholla cactus garden area.
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Here is a bit more information you should know before you visit Joshua Tree National Park:
1.There is no cell phone service in the majority of the park.
2.Stay away from abandoned mines.
3.Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.
4.Flash floods are a danger; avoid drainage areas during and after thunderstorms
5.Do not climb unless you are properly trained and equipped. (Rock climbing is allowed).
6.Pets are prohibited on the trails and beyond 100 feet from any park road, campground, or picnic area.
7.Off-road driving is prohibited.
Some camping sites are available at a first come, first serve basis; visit www.recreation.gov to learn more. Campgrounds are usually full on the weekends from October through May. Check out the website to plan your next visit.

Joshua Tree National Park directions.
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
760-367-5500
www.nps.gov/jotr

The desert may not be high on your list of places to see and visit, but Joshua Tree National Park may change your mind. It is incredible how this desert land teaches us about adaption as these animals, plants, and landscapes adapt to the summer 100 plus degree temperatures, relentless sun, and so little water. That is impressive in my book.

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California Dreaming Series|San Diego

Imagine a life where you are surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes, ocean blue waters, and palm trees galore? We might call this California Dreaming as you may think that no such place exists in your world. Well, this is our attempt to bring that world to you.

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San Diego downtown near the Convention Center

 

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San Diego view from Petco Park

San Diego is a vacationers dream with so many exciting attractions, amusement parks, the famous San Diego Zoo, and exquisite dining. However, San Diego offers so much more for you other than the average everyday tourist hot spots. Here are a few different things to discover and see less traveled areas in the San Diego area. Enjoy this photo journal series capturing some of San Diego’s hidden treasures that you may wish to explore. Happy Viewing.

Torrey Pines State Reserve: Hiking and Views

 

 

This is a peaceful, beautiful trail for visitors to enjoy in a clean, natural environment, and stunning landscapes and views. This is a reserve; according to torreypine.org, a reserve is not a park. This reserve is a targeted area protected for conservation and also has other restrictions different than a park. Read more here:

Torrey Pines State Beach

The beach is at the bottom of 300 foot sandstone cliffs of white and golden stone, with a greenish layer sometimes visible at the very bottom.
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At the north end of the beach the cliffs ends and Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, a salt marsh estuary, empties into the ocean. A county highway crosses the entrance, with limited free parking along the beach.
Learn more here:

La Jolla Cove

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La Jolla Cove and Shores are one the most photographed beaches in San Diego County!

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La Jolla Cove

It is home to several species of sea life including seagulls, seals, and occasional spottings of Orca killer whales. See more photos of this area here: La Jolla Cove

Sante Fe Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest

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Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest

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The Sante Fe and Del Dio Gorge Trails are both segments of the San Dieguito River Park area and the Coast to Crest trails. Three pre-historic cultural periods describe parts of this region and portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

Miramar Air Show: Marine Corp Air Station

The Miramar Air Show was spectacular this year and certainly did not disappoint. This years air show theme was honoring 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. Also feature highlights were some impressive aircraft such as the F-35 Lightening II, F/A -18 Hornet, MV-22 Osprey, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, and of course, the infamous Blue Angels! Miramar Air Show is an annual event usually scheduled for some time in late September or early October.


Petco Park and San Diego Padres

If you visit San Diego, you must experience watching a baseball game at Petco Park with an unbelievable backdrop of the city surrounded by the ocean and spectacular sunsets!

You can watch airplanes arriving for a landing in the distance behind the city buildings as you watch the game.


Stunning sunsets

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Balboa Park

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Carlsbad State Beach

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Take notice of how this beach has a massive amount of rocks that comprise the beach. Then take a look at Moonlight Beach located in Encinitas just a short distance south of Carlsbad.

Moonlight Beach: Encinitas

Mount Woodson: Potato Chip Rock

Highly visited hiking trail in San Diego county. Mountain Lion and her cubs were just recently spotted in this area near the Mt. Woodson golf course. (Date: Oct 4, 2018)

Black Mountain Hiking Trail


Lake Ramona Hiking Trail

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Learn more about these hiking trails as I describe in one of my blog posts here:  4 Great Local Hiking Trails in San Diego.

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San Diego sunrise

San Diego is an exquisite city to visit and experience. It’s a vacation and travel destination for millions of people. And yes, there are the popular tourist attractions that visitors love to see but there are also the less traveled amazing spots that will leave you speechless. So when you make your trip to San Diego, be sure to explore one or two of the hidden gems that will make your dream vacation more complete. Thank you for reading!  California Dreaming!

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More Exploration and Adventure in San Diego!

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Coming Soon:  California Dreaming Series | Palm Springs

My Detour To The Valley Of Fire

Valley of Fire State Park is located about 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off of Interstate 15. We passed this sign while on our road trip to Zion National Park in Utah. The sign definitely drew our curiosity and peaked our interest. It is a Nevada State Park, and there are two ways to get to the park. The fiery looking red sandstone cliffs were formed as a result of shifting sand dunes during the dinosaur age. The earth moving, uplifting and erosion has now created this present landscape.

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This park happens to be an unexpected detour for us and we consider this a hidden gem and enjoyed exploring this interesting park thoroughly. It was a warm and beautiful day on our return from an adventure in Zion National Park, so this was a great place to top off the end of our weekend road trip. We arrived to the park using the east entrance.

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Take a look at some of these interesting and beautiful sandstone rock formations as well as the stories behind them.

Mouse’s Tank:
This area is named after an outlaw who used this area as a hideout during the 1890s. This area is a natural basin and can hold rain water collections for many months.

 

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Entrance to Mouse’s Tank
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Mouse’s Tank

On the hiking trail to arrive at Mouse’s Tank, you will find large boulder/rock areas that have prehistoric petroglyphs. The prehistoric wanderers were the Pueblo peoples. Their approximate span of occupation has been dated from 300 BC to 1150 AD.

 

Seven Sisters area:
Several beautiful rock formations easily seen from the road as you journey through the valley.
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Other cool rock formation areas to explore and visit in the park. A must see include:
Beehives
Arch Rock areas
Firewave
Petrified Logs
Rainbow Vista
White Domes

 

The Valley of Fire State Park also allows camping at first come first serve. There are two campgrounds and a combined total of 72 units. There are also RV Camping sites as well.

 

Rock climbing is allowed but is limited to designated areas within the park.

Thank you for reading!
Please follow my other hiking adventures in the desert! Click Below

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Summer of Sunsets

Summer is one of my favorite times of year, so I wanted to compile a recap of some of the most spectacular #sunsets in places I have had the privilege of visiting. In the last 10 months, I have had the opportunity to go exploring and travel a little more than previous years. We seen places that we’ve only talked about and had a desire to visit, and now finally we have made our dream come true. Although there are many places we have yet to see, these sunsets have made for lasting memories and remarkable experiences we won’t soon forget!

Take a look at these stunning places and sunsets!

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Arizona near Phoenix
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Grand Canyon area
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Santa Monica, CA
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Cannon Beach, OR
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Eugene, OR
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Bradenton, FL
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Honolulu, HI
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Bismarck-Mandan, ND
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Honolulu, HI
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Scottsdale, AZ
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Sarasota, FL
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Moab, UT
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Honolulu, HI

 

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Austin, TX
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San Diego, CA
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Hawaii
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San Diego, CA
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Kauai, Hawaii
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Honolulu, HI
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Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Some of the most memorable moments are captured during sunsets, make sure you don’t miss out on your next moment! Hope these inspire you to go out and explore and venture for that perfect view and/or #sunset!

Read more about my scenic adventures here!

See more gorgeous views in Hawaii here!

Please feel free to comment or contact me, I would love to hear from you! Please follow my blog and subscribe! As always, I thank you for reading and thank you for your support!

PCH Hwy 1 Roadtrip*10 Things To Know

A friend of ours was so gracious and shared her experience of her own coastal road trip with us.  She offered information that included some great points of interest to see and visit as we were heading out on our own coastal road trip. She mentioned a few rest stops, beautiful hiking trails, and gorgeous view points for photos. Here is an outline of what she suggested for us.

Guest Blog: By Sam J.
PCH Roadtrip San Diego To Seattle—>10 Things To Know Before You Go

San Diego –> Crescent City

Are you planning a road trip traveling north on Highway 1 up the coast for your next vacation? Here are a few great places to see and explore.

1.Hearst Castle/San Simeon are worth a visit if you have never done it and you have time for one of the tours.  I went on the Main House/Pool tour.

2. Make sure to explore around the town of Carmel, Big Sur, and the infamous Pebble Beach.

Read More Here:  

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5 Beautiful Hikes To Explore In Hawaii

5 Beautiful Yet Moderate Challenging Hikes to Explore While In Hawaii

Does the excitement of exploring a new place thrill you as much as it does me? Just the thought of seeing new landscapes and unfamiliar nature trails can get those butterflies buzzing around in my stomach! Then if you add the adventures and activities planning; whoa, the excitement plunges through the roof! The place that brings an abundance of excitement to me is visiting Hawaii.

Hawaii is such a magical place and presents a vibe that is like no other. While many people think of Hawaii as a place for charming resorts, sparkling swimming pools, and relaxing patios. Hawaii to me is full of nature, beautiful landscapes and adventure. There are so many hiking trails to explore in Hawaii, that we have yet to scrape the top 10 of them yet. So if you are someone who wants to get more out of your visit to Hawaii and create unique extraordinary memories, then you must explore these wonderful yet moderate challenging hiking trails.

  1. Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail: 4.5 mile roundtrip. Elevation 1597 feet  Directions

If you are hungry for a scenic yet challenging and adventurous hike while on your visit to Hawaii, then this one will surely put a smile on your face. We started off the day with a little sun and clouds hoping that the rain might stay away for this particular hike. I don’t know about you, but the word Ridge places just a tiny bit of fear in me being this is the first time we’ve hiked this trail.

Ignoring the on-slot of a bit of fear I seemed to develop, we proceeded to gather our water, hats, sunscreen and sunglasses and piled in the car and drove towards East Honolulu area. Actually, the journey to get to the trailhead was quite spectacular by itself as we cruised to higher altitudes through what seemed to be an upscale neighborhood of homes and hills. I noticed as we reached the trail head there was no guard or official person around at this time, so we proceeded to park in the appropriate designated spots. Usually you do need a permit to park in the designated areas to hike this trail.

The clouds started to build up around us making for a possibly muddy, wet, and slippery hiking experience. Early in the hike, we approached a beautiful canopy of trees of all sizes but mostly tall and large. The wind began to swirl and howl making for an eerie stroll through this part of the trail.WIL NUI 2

As we made our way through the tree tunnels, we encounter some of the challenges and views that this hike presents. The steeper sections of the ridge continue closer and we used the ropes when needed to assist in the climb to the top.

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Williwillinui Hike Trail

 This part of the hiking trail offered a few challenges and obstacles. The rope was very helpful in climbing to the next phase. This trail can be muddy and slippery when it rains, so take it slow and careful and you will gradually make your way to the summit.DSC_0324williwillinui hike1

The views and beauty of the trail aren’t the only things to be excited about. If you blink you may miss some of the most beautiful plants and flowers that are displayed on this adventure nature trail!WILI NUI6WILI NUI 1

Be sure to take a rest on the ‘Swing’ and tree area, and if you are hiking the trail on a weekday, you may be lucky enough to get a seat on the one lonely bench that sits at the summit of the trail. There are 360 views everywhere up here and they are incredible! Hang on to your hat as the winds can be quite wicked up at the top.DSC_0344webDSC_0346_web

  1. Aiea Loop Hiking Trail: 4.8 mile Roundtrip. Elevation 900 Directions

The Aiea Loop trail is located in Aiea – Pearl City area of Honolulu and is an interesting path as you begin at the trailhead located within a park. There are a few scattered picnic tables and the park is quite large in size. The trees are massive and the lemon eucalyptus trees offer a scent of sweet citrus as you ponder further into the trail. There are a few trail road blocks of large tree trunks, and you’ll climb a few steep switchbacks along the loop.

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Aiea Loop Trail

You will catch some views of the freeway H-3 from particular areas on the trail. This trail can also be a little muddy if you experience the hike on a misty or rainy day.

On this trail, I ended up hiking part of it on my own as my husband went on ahead of us, then my in-laws were slowing and I went ahead of them. I was beginning to question if I was going in the right direction at one point and if I might catch up with them or get to the end of the loop. There is an area where one bench sits at peak of a slight climb and elevated area, and I sat there for a moment hoping I wasn’t lost.   I finally came to the end of the loop and saw my in-laws trying to approach the friendly cat that hung around the park that day.IMG_5568 cat This hike is considered an easy hike with a few areas of moderate challenge.

  1. Waimano Falls and Pools Trail: 3 Mile Roundtrip. Waterfall Hike  Directions

This hiking trail was both challenging and rewarding. The trailhead is located near or in the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades.   Parking is limited, so you may wish to start this trail early. The trail begins with a smooth wide pathway of red dirt and rocks with plants lining the path.

As you continue further on the trail, it can become muddy and slippery depending if you hike this one on a misty or rainy day. You’ll have to keep an eye out where you walk and step because there are large tree roots everywhere and the elevation can create a slightly dangerous trail.Waimano Pools Waterfall Trail 4Waimano Pools Waterfall Trail 2
Going downhill may be easy and you can use the tree roots for stepping, but coming back up can get you huffing and puffing. This part of the trail is known as ‘Cardiac Hill’. 20180304_151702web
Again, this trail is really not that difficult, but it becomes slightly dangerous if it’s a rainy or misty day and especially when you are descending down towards the beautiful pools and waterfall, it can be very slippery.

This hike presents a wide variety of plants and trees to ponder over as you slither your way carefully down the path over red dirt hillsides, trees, and slippery mud. I lost the soles of my shoes and mud was everywhere. There are a few spots where you use a rope to help you down steeper rocks or hillside parts of the trail. You may encounter a wild pig or hunters with dogs so just be aware and don’t be alarmed. There are plenty of birds to listen to as they sing and fly from tree limb to limb. The hidden gem on this hike is the infamous Waimano Pools and Waterfall.

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  1. Manoa Falls Hike: 1.6 mile roundrip. Waterfalls (150 feet falls) Directions

If you are looking for an easy yet very rewarding and full of nature and very large trees, then this is the hike for you. At times, this hike can also be slippery and muddy depending on rain. The trees are wide, tall, and giants on this very interesting yet enjoyable trail.

On the day we hiked this trail, the falls didn’t seem as large as I expected, but it is still a beautiful scene of maze and wonder. If you are someone who wants to get away from large crowds and noise, and have a desire to explore and surround yourself with nature, then you’ll have to check this one out. This hike is considered an easy rated trail.

  1. Koko Head Stairs Trail:   1.8 mile roundtrip. Elevation 990   Directions

The spectacular views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing during this extraordinary hike up the Koko Head stairs.  This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad tithes) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast and will definitely offer a cardio workout like no other. This is rated as difficult.

Koko Head is the eastern side of  Maunalua Bay and the southeastern side of the Island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaiʻi Kai. You will enjoy wonderful views of Haunama Bay and beyond.  The climb can be grueling and scenic, so its a good idea to take a rest and take in the views.

There is a section where a larger drop to a ridge is located below, so you take your time and go slow if needed. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
You may be huffing and puffing half way up the climb, only to learn you have quite a ways to go and are getting higher.

This is a view from below it may be approximately half way up, but it still looks like there are quite a few steps to go to reach the top. You will be huffing and puffing by this point.

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Koko Head Stairs Hike

There is an no doubt an abundance of excitement and adventurous activities for those thrill seekers visiting Hawaii on travel. But don’t be tempted by those fancy boutique shops, crowds, and lounge bars that bombard you at the tourist beaches. You may want to change your travel strategies to add exploration and hiking to your itinerary.  This will no doubt make the most out of your visit to Hawaii and create remarkable memories.

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When you travel, do you plan for hiking or exploration to be added into your travel itineraries? If yes, which hiking trails or mountains are your favorites and describe them.

I would love to hear from you, please leave comments or contact me via email: fitlife360@yahoo.com.  If you’d like to read and see more hiking and exploratory adventures from around the U.S., please subscribe and / or follow my blog.

Read more about Hawaii:  Hawaii Islands Uncovered

More hiking adventures here: Utah: Arches & Canyonlands

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Hiking adventures Hawaii. http://www.fitlife360.net

 

 

 

Avocado: Slicing The Miracle Fruit

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Did you know that the avocado is a fruit? Otherwise known as ‘alligator pear’, the avocado is grown on a tree and is loaded with nutrients that provide tremendous benefits to your body.  The nutrients are only part of the experience of consuming avocados; shopping for them and preparing them to eat is another story.

Those who don’t normally eat avocados find it difficult choosing the proper ripeness when shopping at the market. I always feel for some slight firmness keeping in mind my technique when slicing open the fruit and how easily it comes apart. You don’t want it too firm because then you just don’t get the most enriching flavor for that particular ripe.

To battle the challenge of preparing them for eating, it will all be worth the challenge knowing the incredible nutrients they contain; which include the following:

  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin E
  • Small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and other minerals.

I begin my slicing challenge by washing the exterior of the avocado before my knife touches it.  I then lightly tap it dry with a towel or paper towel.  I take my knife and start at the top of the avocado and slice downward and around back near the top – to slice it into two halves.  I then take my knife and with a quick and straight chop into the center of the middle seed or the pit, I gently turn and push to get the seed out. With the proper ripeness, the seed should sort of slide right out.  I then take a spoon and place it into the inside edge of the peel and gently slide throughout the lining of the avocado half.

sliced tomato and avocado on white plate
Photo by Artem Bulbfish on Pexels.com

The seed or pit can also be used to plant and grow an avocado tree. There appears to be some prep work and patience. Learn how to grow an avocado tree from the seed here:

So now the challenge of slicing and preparing the avocado for consumption is ready for salads, sandwiches, guacamole, and more! The flavor they add to your meals is only a small part of what Avocados provide. Did you know that Avocados contain more potassium than bananas?  According to healthline.com, “Avocados are actually very high in potassium… with a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving containing 14% of the RDA, compared to 10% in bananas, which are a typical high potassium food.”.. Read complete article here: 

 

Source:
healthline.com
inhabitat.com