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Blogmas Day 3: Pumpkin Gingerbread

Welcome back to Blogmas! I hope you’re enjoying reading these posts, because I’m certainly having a blast making them. It forces creativity and a little more special effort to be put into each post, and having new content helps keep things fresh around here. As I type this up today, I’m cuddling under a blanket with my trusty sidekick.

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I brought him here, oh, 4-5 hours ago, to help me read microbiology and he has not moved. During that time, I’ve done reading, eaten lunch, made this recipe, and walked the dog. He’s still snoozing. No shame.

Today’s recipe is another idea that popped into my head while walking around the zoo and dreaming of the holidays. My FAVORITE healthy pumpkin bread recipe ever doesn’t actually call for any spices, so I usually add a ton of pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon to make pumpkin bread. But I thought, huh, why not make this into gingerbread? And just add gingerbread spices? I don’t have the original source of the recipe since it’s a print out from many years ago, but I adapted it to make delicious pumpkin gingerbread.

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This loaf has a warm flavor that just feels like the holidays. Even though we have yet to get a tree or put up decorations, when that sweet, molasses-ginger scent fills the house, I know it’s December!

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This recipe also packs a bit of a nutritional punch: it’s filled with Vitamin A from pumpkin, lots of important minerals from molasses (iron, calcium, magnesium, and more), and it isn’t a sugar bomb.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

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Ingredients:

2 1/4 c flour (I used GF but this recipe works well with half whole wheat and half white)

1/2 T baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

1 large egg

1 egg white

1 can of pumpkin (about 1.5 c)

1/4 c oil (I used avocado but you could use any type of vegetable oil)

1/2 c molasses

1/4 c packed brown sugar

1 t vanilla

2 t ginger

1/4 t nutmeg

1/8 t cloves

1 t cinnamon

powder sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk all dry ingredients besides the sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in wet ingredients until well blended.
  4. Pour batter into a tinfoil-lined loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until done.
  6. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Enjoy!

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*Extra points if you have a holiday-themed plate.

 

 

WIAW-My Shoulder is Cranky

Guess who is back for WIAW? I’m trying really hard to blog more old-school HLB style these days since I have more time. (Or am I just procrastinating vet school apps? We will never know.)

Thanks to Jenn for starting this party all those years ago!

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Before I get into my full day of eating, I wanted to share some things from Monday night.

We made a rosemary chicken, bacon, and avocado salad, although I left the bacon off of my portion!

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I usually try to build my meals my having a protein, a carb, a vegetable/fruit, and sometimes a fat. Thus, I added a slice of gluten free toast on the side. My biggest health tip is to use fresh herbs generously. They really boost the flavor of the dish and add nutritional value, without extra calories/sodium.

We had some extra ripe bananas (I am NOT a spotted banana eater), so I tossed them in a pan with Earth Balance butter substitute (I like the flavor more than butter, actually), a spoonful of brown sugar, and cinnamon.

They sautéed up perfectly, and tasted decadent. The fruit naturally caramelizes, so it doesn’t take much sugar/butter for these to caramelize right up. I enjoyed my portion with some vanilla frozen yogurt. I like having the cold stuff in a separate bowl, otherwise I feel pressure to eat quickly before the ice cream all melts!

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Now, finally, onto the full day of eating!

My morning began with my gummy vitamins and 2 gluten free crackers before Crossfit. Only 2 crackers because I wasn’t super hungry, and I was running late, but I like to have some sort of carbs in my belly before lifting heavy things.

At Crossfit, we worked on reverse hypers and pistols (onto a box for me). Reverse hypers are basically back extensions on the GHD. Fun fact: 3 years into Crossfit later, last week I finally learned what GHD stands for: gluts-hamstring developers. Who knew.

The WOD:

12 AMRAP:

5 deadlifts 155#

5 handstand push ups

The scale for handstand push up was strict press, and I of course took that option. I used 55# for the presses.After yesterday’s pull ups, my shoulders were pretty sore. My upper back actually got pretty tired from the deadlifts, something that doesn’t normally happen. I got through 10 rounds.

My shoulder is cranky though. I partially dislocated it a year ago, and while I can do everything now, it gets tight and painful if I use it a lot.

I wasn’t feeling yogurt for breakfast, so I decided to take advantage of my access to a Vitamix and make a smoothie. It was super simple, but super delicious: 1 frozen banana, cocoa powder, nonfat milk. I topped it with some raspberry KIND granola.

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Because #nutrition, I do want to note that in my food choices, I do make an effort to stay pretty low fat. This has absolutely nothing to do with what I think the health merits of fat are—I think whole foods are extremely nutritious, including whole milk and olive oil, and in the past I’ve eaten a lot more fat and felt great. However, a lingering effect of my illness last year (I seriously need to do an update soon on that) is that I can’t handle much fat without feeling sick. So I choose the lower fat options as much as possible to stay feeling good.

I spent the morning doing vet school apps—I’m slowly but surely getting there!—before breaking for lunch.

On Sunday night, we grilled up a TON of chicken, so it’s been featured in pretty much every meal lately. I heated some up (and dipped it in catch up), and served it with a caprese salad. We were gifted homegrown tomatoes, so I chopped one up with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, which I topped with salt and pepper. This is another example of choosing lower fat options—in the past, I might have topped this with olive oil, but I enjoyed it plenty without!

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I also ate some gluten free crackers on the side, plus a couple of squares of mint dark chocolate.

I sent some emails and then went to the grocery to buy granola bars and things for dinner. An exciting new find was KIND dark chocolate granola, which I can envision on top of a chocolate banana smoothie bowl! I’m a big fan of KIND granola—the nutrition facts really can’t be beat. Also, a little goes a long way! It’s part of a great breakfast when paired with protein, such as yogurt!

Of course, I had to try some as part of my snack.

 

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On the side was a farmer’s market plum and a NuGo bar. At this point, I basically eat exclusively Luna bars, but got a different brand to mix it up today. It was delicious, but honestly a little too much dark chocolate for me—I felt a little jittery!

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I went to a spin class with one of my favorite instructors that evening. It’s a class with lots of choreography and push ups on the bike, but I really love her playlists!

Dinner made use of some of the food we had on hand.

Watermelon salad with mint and feta. Literally mint, watermelon, and feta.

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Also, roasted garlic-parmesan zucchini and tomatoes. We topped them with basil, and this dish was incredibly delicious. The parmesan got brown and bubbly, and the vegetables were bursting with flavor.

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All with BBQ chicken!

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For dessert, I tried a Blueberry Yasso frozen yogurt bar. I had Yasso bars most nights in Tennessee. I LOVE the salted caramel, and like the mint chocolate chip a lot as well. The blueberry was good too, but the salted caramel still holds the main place in my heart.

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(Check out the puppy in the background! She’s always there—she’s at my feet right now as I type this up!)

My family and I started watching The Gilmore Girls tonight. We finished our show last night (The Good Wife), and couldn’t find anything else we were in the middle of on Netflix, so we decided to give it a try. I like it well enough so far, and it’s quite a blast from the past (2000).

I was a little hungry, so I snacked on a little bit of KIND Dark Chocolate granola, and a few freeze dried grapes (they’re really fun—they were on sale at CVS!)

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And now I’m planted in front of the Olympics. So far I’ve seen a couple of swimming finals, both of which I already knew the results of. It does make it less stressful though!

What is your favorite granola/protein bar?

Boot Takes on Murph (Memorial Day Recap)

Hello! Checking back in for a Memorial Day recap.

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those who have served. Thank you.

When we left off, I was getting ready for my freshman dorm reunion on Saturday evening.

I had a lot of fun at the reunion, but left with sort of strange feelings.

Dinner was delicious. I was trying to be careful with my stomach so I didn’t eat a lot, but would totally go back to the catering restaurant at a later date.

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Make your own tacos! Mine with chicken and veggie filling.

It was great catching up with people. I actually saw the end of the Warriors game with a table of guys who were streaming it. I did find myself mostly talking to the people I’m still in touch with though.I guess there’s a reason we’ve stayed in touch! I actually think I’m still pretty close to all my good friends from freshman year.

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freshman reunion

I left a bit early to hang out with another friend, and I feel like I missed out on a bit of fun, as everyone migrated back to visit our freshman dorm. I think it’s probably for the best because walking clear across campus in a boot wouldn’t have been a good idea, but I missed hanged out with those people.

After spending the evening being careful with my stomach, I actually had a really, really bad flare Saturday night after I got back. Our chef made GF chocolate cake, and my friend made me GFG snickerdoodle cupcakes, and I just had too much, and the fat in them sent me into a bad flare. On the one hand, I do feel like my stomach has healed a ton. But this is a reminder I have to be careful. Now, pretty much every flare or mini flare I have, there’s a clear cause, and in this case it was the fat in the cake/frosting. I had a pretty rough night. I had to stay up far later than planned because I was too nauseated to get in bed. Finally after a second dose of stomach meds, I started feeling better. Luckily, I woke up feeling much better, although tired.

Sunday morning, I went to another farmer’s market with a couple of friends. I’ve always heard that there were kittens there, but I never actually saw them until this week. How adorable!

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I got a large quantity of fruit (after 2 days of farmer’s markets, I’m totally stocked), and my friends and I stopped at one of the stands for lunch. It was a sandwich place, but you could get it as a “paleo plate” over lettuce with an egg, instead of bread, so that’s what I did! I got the avocado, which was mashed avocado and fresh mozzarella. SUPER delicious.

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After the farmer’s market, I stopped at a sorority alumnae brunch to celebrate my chapter’s birthday. We had bagels and died tea, and it was nice to catch up with those who have graduated, and hear about life in the real world.

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Monday, I went home to clean out my closet. Both my home Crossfit and school Crossfit were doing Murph, which is one of my favorite Crossfit workouts. I had a tough decision as to which gym I should do it at, and ultimately decided to do it at home. I was happy with that choice; it feels like summer now, it was great to see everyone, and now I’m a bit more excited for summer (aka post-grad).

Since I have a stress fracture in my foot, I had to modify. I figured I could do push ups and pull ups, so I was at least half way there! For those of your unfamiliar with Murph, it is a hero WOD typically done every memorial day. It is:

1 mile run

100 pull ups

200 push ups

300 squats

1 mile run

The pull ups, push ups, and squats can be broken up however you want, but most people do 5-10-15.

I knew I would have to sub the assault bike for the runs, but wan’t sure about the squats. I can do deadlifts because the weight is entirely on my heels, but I’ve stayed away from squats. I decided to see how it felt. If I felt like it was at all unsafe for my foot, I planned to switch to sit ups in place of squats. As it turned out, the squats were fine, I just couldn’t rush them.

This was my fourth time doing Murph. (Just for fun, here, here, and here.)

So how did it go? Let’s just start by remembering that I haven’t done a single squat in 4 weeks. Moving on.

I did 3 miles on the bike for the mile run, which took about 9 minutes. I used a band for the pull ups and did strict, but it actually felt really easy, so about halfway through (round 10 of 20) I started doing kipping no-band pull ups for 3-5 of my sets of 5. I honestly probably could/should have ditched the band for the whole workout and just done kipping pull ups the whole way, but it really surprised me that I felt as good as I did. I’ve definitely gotten stronger since hurting my foot: before, I could only string together 3 kips, and now I can do 5, even in round 20! The push ups I scaled on my knees, and they actually felt much easier than expected as well. Next year, I hope to do the workout unscaled!

For the squats, they felt hdd but less awful than they could have been.

I finished Murph in about 51:00. One of my slower times, but I have no problem with that! I was so happy I was able to do what I did. Murph is one of my favorites, as I mentioned, and was really the only exercise thing I was sad about missing out on with my foot.

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Boot takes on Murph.

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Afterwards, I went home, ready for some PROTEIN. We had grilled chicken and peach salad with goat cheese, plus some baked Lays on the side while watching the Giant’s game.

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After cleaning myself up, I made a recipe I’ve had bookmarked for a while, Blueberry Zucchini bread.

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It came out beautifully, and was delicious! Although its 1/2c of sugar is a little higher than I’m used to, so I think it would still be great with 1/3 of a cup!

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My main task/reason for going home was to clean out my closet before I dump a whole bunch of stuff from school there. I’m entering a new stage of my life, so it’s out with the old! I think I made pretty decent progress. Someone decided to be oh so helpful. In denial that she is not a lap dog.

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A few nights again, my friends and I had a little Pinterest party, and I learned they had entire boards devoted to soup. Um, YES. Soup was courtesy of my friend Kate’s pin. Sweet potato, kale, and corn chowder. Served with GF avocado toast.

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I love that despite having soup more or less every week, I’m still finding new and different recipes!

I watched about an hour of the Warriors game, before rushing back to campus for my last sorority initiation.

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And now it’s back to reality. Sort of. I only have classes Tuesday and Wednesday this week before finals start Friday, and only have 1 class Tuesdays. Summer is so close! Not sure how I feel about impending graduation though….

Also, if you’re wondering whether or not you should do 300 squats after not doing them in a month, the answer is a solid no. I’m in a world of pain! Last night (Monday), I wasn’t feeling too bad, but throughout Tuesday I’m growing progressively more and more immobile. My quads are just LIT UP right now. Stairs are the mortal enemy. Both up and down. Between that and the boot, it’s rough walking! My arms/shoulders actually aren’t crazy sore, though the soreness is starting to come in a little stronger. Nothing compared to legs though. I basically don’t want to move at all. For a while.

(Want to see the aftermath of past memorial day Murphs? Here and here.)

Have you ever done Murph? What’s the hardest part for you?

Recipe Catch Up

In the midst of all my traveling, I’ve been slacking on posting some of the recipes I’ve tried! I thought I’d do a little bit of a catch up post.

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Roasted vegetable soup with chicken from Cooking Light. This was different than a regular chicken/veggie soup recipe because before being added to the soup, the carrots, onions, and celery were roasted which really brought out the flavor. In the future, I think I’d roost the veggies a little bit extra.

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Ginger chicken scallion shiitake soup. This was a broth soup with rice noodles, chicken, scallions, and mushrooms!

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I feel like this picture doesn’t actually show much. This soup is essentially chicken noodle, but with zoodles! (aka zucchini noodles). Served with Trader Joe’s cornbread (GF) because I am obsessed.

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The obsession continues. This was triple lemon blueberry muffins from Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life in bread form. I’m still on the search for the idea lemon bread recipe, and so far this recipe has been the best! It was delicious, but doesn’t have quite as much lemon flavor as I’m looking for. It does have a really good flavor though, a hint of vanilla. I think next time I’m going to try this recipe again, but try adding some lemon juice/other sources of lemon. I’ve been enjoying this pre-workout for the last couple of weeks though!

Other fun food as of late that never made it to the blog:

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While home, I experimented and made some cheesy green onion potato pancakes. Just nutritional yeast, baked potato, spices, green onions, and egg. They were delicious!

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Also while home, post-long run avocado+egg on GF toast.

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While home, I got some cereal for my yogurt, and have been enjoying it in yogurt bowls since!

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My fruit and cheese of the month came. These grapefruits are amazing, and when I first tried this type a few years ago, it was the first time I ever actually liked grapefruit!

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Mango salmon over greens, with avocado quinoa. Also, GF banana bread which was perfectly moist.

What recipe have you tried lately?

Yoga Fixed My Shoulders

Phew. Yesterday was quite the day!

I started my morning teaching a 7am spin class on campus, which was awesome. I didn’t think we’d get a big turn out because it wasn’t that well advertised and it was early, but I got a good group out, including a friend!

Then, I had a weight lifting session with my trainer. I tried to move it to not the morning I had to teach, but that didn’t work out so I had to suck it up and go in with less than fresh legs. We worked on cleans, back squats, and jerks. I PRed my clean again at 148#! That’s a 8# increase this summer, so I’ll take it! Sometimes being a little tired helps things-I don’t overthink the lift, plus I was super warmed up! I also hit 95% of my back squat max for 2 reps. This is especially good because my max is a year old, and I maxed out at my 95% when I tested it back in the spring.

As for the jerks, we didn’t go super heavy but they felt better than expected. Over the last year or so, I’ve developed very creaky shoulders, especially when I go overhead with the bar. I basically have not been able to go overhead more than once a week without stiff shoulders and pain when I press up. Earlier this week at Crossfit, we did a ton of push presses and high volume overhead work. But, the jerks yesterday felt fine! It was a night and day difference. So what changed? I started yoga about 6 years ago to help with flexibly (because I have none). I honestly think yoga was key for helping me stay injury free in my many years of softball. (I was a pitcher and never had any shoulder/arm trouble which is rare for someone doing it for 10 years!) In the past year, yoga has kind of fallen by the wayside. Last month, I finally started making it to class again, and I’ve noticed my shoulders getting stronger and looser. I felt a drastic difference from just last week’s class to this week’s class when doing low push ups-my shoulders felt strong and were losing their creak. Plus, this week I walked out of class with much less foot pain because I spent 60 minutes stretching out my tight calves. Needless to say I will be making yoga a regular thing again if possible!

After my training session, I met my sister for coffee at Bliss in Redwood City for any locals.

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Of course, I got a cappuccino and it was fantastic. It was a light roast, and had premium quality milk foam (which is clearly what matters, if you ask me!)

After coffee, we headed home for lunch. I made myself a salad with truffle goat cheese (because we didn’t have any regular goat cheese), dates, a nectarine, and deli turkey.

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Sweet potato seed crackers were on the side.

I spent the afternoon resting, and then apparently going on a baking frenzy.

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It’s 4 days into September and I’ve already make 3 loaves of pumpkin bread and a loaf of sweet potato bread. Besides the pumpkin bread, I did lots of experimenting and improvising.

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For the pumpkin bread, I baked some Noosa honey yogurt into the center for something fun.

If you take one look at my recipe page, you’ll see that most of what is up there is quick breads and salads. Those are my two claims to fame. I’ve gotten very good and making up recipes for healthy quick breads. I have one base recipe that I use, and I have yet to screw it up, surprisingly, despite how many modifications I’ve tried. (That’s actually not true-the one thing that didn’t work was coconut flour banana bread. Apparently bananas and coconut flour are not good together. It was gross.) I’ve even started making it with gluten free flour, and you would really never know. At this point, nothing contains more than 1/4 cup of sweetener, but you’d never know. Even my sister approved, and she is wary of anything “healthy.”

When the sweet potato bread came out, I decided I am a freaking genius. It was on point.

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My third loaf was a total experiment, and I was running out of flour so I had to really improvise. The bread? Awesome. Exactly what I was looking for. The appearance? Uhhhh.

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The batter was completely gray-this picture doesn’t do it justice. Anyone want to guess the secret ingredient that reacts to turn this color? I’m guessing it reacts to baking soda/powder. Because of the appearance, I’m not 100% sure I’ll share the recipe. Plus, it still needs tweaking because I think if I had more flour and didn’t have to improvise quite so much it would be better!

As for the sweet potato recipe, it’s coming this weekend-I promise!

That evening, I went to run club at Crossfit. My legs were not really up for it, but I’ve been wanting to go for a long time now and this was the only week I could really make it. Since everything is based on paces, I had to do a timed mile. Blech. I clocked in around 8:10, and with tired legs, I’ll take it. I should probably actually do a timed mile sometime with fresh legs! Back in the glory days, in another life I was actually reptty fast. I think my all time best mile is 6:53, but that’s not happening any time soon! Overall, between warm up and cool down, I covered 3 miles which is exactly what was on my half training plan for the day.

Dinner was another basic one. Stir fry veggies and cheesy polenta. The cheesy polenta was just cooked polenta with smoked gouda stirred in, and it was delicious!

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I hope everyone has a fabulous labor day weekend. I’m on puppy duty full time, so I’m trying to think of things to do with her! And check back for that recipe this weekend!

What are your weekend plans?