Life in Jinju: Into the Woods

When I was moving to Korea, one of the things I was incredibly excited for was the hiking. Growing up along the Appalachian Trail, it was hard for me to stay away from the outdoors after discovering a love of hiking at seventeen. After being in Korea for a little over two weeks, I have finally made it out to the mountains that have been hiding in my backyard.

Approximately 70% of Korea is covered in mountains–that’s a lot of green peaks lining this beautiful country. My city, Jinju, is nestled in a river valley between mountains. Saturday when I was out with the various new expat friends I made, one was talking about going for a hike Sunday morning. Loving a good hike, I asked if I could tag along. I hadn’t realized that about 15 minutes from my apartment there was a trailhead.

Here is Korea, the trails are incredibly well-kept with bathrooms, gazebos, and even outdoor gyms along that paths. What was even more amazing to me was the view I was able to get of my new city along most of the trail. To one side, I saw endless countryside, and to the other, a view of Jinju like none I have seen before.

Although I was eager to hike, I hadn’t taken into consideration that the temperatures are rising again after a cloudy, rainy week. While I wake up every morning hoping Autumn has finally arrived, I am disappointed day after day as the thermostat climbs. This morning it was nearing 80 degrees Fahrenheit and was quite humid by the time we got the mountain, but I was able to push through the steeper inclines and made it out with only a tiny bit of sunburn on my face.

While today’s hike was only a couple of hours, it was great way for me to gear up for my backpacking trip next weekend over Chuseok, a Korean holiday celebrating the Harvest. Chuseok will also be my first venture outside of Jinju since I’ve arrived, and I am beyond excited to be spending it in the mountains surrounded by my new friends here in Korea.

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Life in Jinju will be a series of posts about living in Jinju, South Korea. Posts from my travels within South Korea and other Asian countries will not be apart of the Life in Jinju collection. 

Easy Banana-Almond Butter Granola Bites

The weather in Northeast Pennsylvania has been all but predictable lately. With back-to-back Nor-easters, it’s easy to imagine that everyone gets sent into a panic about what the impending storm will bring. Due to fears of heavy and consistent snow, I got a snow day from work today, which gave me a lot of free time to catch up on some much needed cleaning I needed to do around my apartment. Once that was finished, and my GRE studying was complete too, I was at a loss for what to do with myself.

I really needed to use up one lone, over-ripe banana. I knew that one banana would not be enough for banana bread, and besides, I have given up bread for Lent, so that was out. I purused on Pinterest, but couldn’t find anything that really peaked my interest, so I decided to try a recipe of my own. The result was tasty, crispy, granola bites loaded with almond butter, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and banana. So if you have a banana laying around and aren’t quite sure what to do with it, why not give these quick and simple granola bites a try?

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 over-ripe banana
  • 1/4 almond butter or nut butter of your choice
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • Other nuts and seeds of your choice

Directions:

  • While pre-heating oven to 350, toast oats on the stove over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring and flipping often
  • Mash banana in a small mixing bowl until well-mashed and no lumps remain and add almond butter
  • Pour warmed, toasted oats into the almond butter and banana mixture and stir until well combined
  • Sprinkle in flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and any additional seeds you want to add! I just used whatever was available in my pantry
  • Form into patties in a small muffin tray and bake for 12 minutes

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This recipe is really so simple, yet so delicious. It can also be customized with whatever nuts, seeds, or spices you have in your cabinet. Next time I make this, I may try adding in some shaved apple and cinnamon! Let me know in the comments if you tried this recipe, what you think, and how you made it your own!