Archive | February, 2014

Winter Does Eventually End (Maybe)

25 Feb

The older I get, the more I resent winter.
January, February, and March taunt me with bitter cold. We’re on the cusp of another polar cold snap and I’m just so sick of it. When will it end!?

I’m slogging through the rest of winter one day at a time. Brent was making fun of me because I have all these plans for “after winter.”  Everything I want to do is for spring and summer. That’s where my whole focus is. But you know, at least I have something to look forward to! I have so many plans.

We signed up for a CSA box (community supported agriculture) so a local farm will pack up a box of fresh produce every week from June-Nov. I am so excited for this! Not only do I not have to fight the crowds at the farmers market, I can support my community’s farmers directly and they’re guaranteed money upfront, and I’m guaranteed yummy veggies. If you’re in the Madison area, check out this link and pick a farm!
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Remember those days? The days that were warm and plants grew out of the ground!

I’m also really looking forward to doing THINGS. I feel like winter puts a stop to activities (which isn’t true…) but things are just more fun when done outside. Camping, biking, ice cream, grilling…you know, the works. There’s an outdoor Shakespeare theatre putting on my favorite play ever (Romeo and Juliet) that I’m hoping we can snag tickets to, and concerts on the square which allows us to drink outside in public…who doesn’t want that?!

With our Mexico trip only a couple weeks away, and the weather heating up in March (well, maybe…sometimes it snows in March and April but fingers crossed) I know I don’t have much farther to go. Mexico will be an absolute dream – I’ve stocked up on new swimsuits and sunglasses and plan on totally soaking in all the sunshine I can…under an umbrella of course!
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Hi, Mexico…I’m coming back for you.  I missed you.

So for now, I’m just doing things that make me happy and keep my spirits up. Today I accomplished this by baking up my favorite peanut butter sesame breakfast bars. I used to make these on hung-over Saturday mornings when friends had stayed over. They gave everyone a reason to get up and gave us a bit of a boost. They’re nutty and sweet, and absolutely the easiest. You can whip these up in about 10 minutes and throw them in the oven, and most likely you have everything on hand.

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You can choose to adapt this recipe, especially if you’re out of ingredients. For the cereal part, I use any puffed or small crunchy cereal we happen to have in our pantry. Don’t like peanut butter? Use almond butter. Don’t’ have sesame seeds? throw in the equivalent of another crushed nut. The honey, though, is a must – but you can halve the amount and add in a mashed banana for flavor without that added sugar. These will definitely put a little sunshine in your day.

Find the recipe here.

 

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Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies (yoga and food)

6 Feb

After a couple month hiatus, I went back to yoga today. I seriously love yoga. Don’t turn away yet- this isn’t going to be a long diatribe about yoga! I just wanted to talk about healthy living.

I’ve been working really hard since the New Year to have a more healthful life. I’ve been working out about five times a week and have been making conscious, good choices about the food I eat. I sleep amazing and I never get tired during the day anymore, where I used to need a nap around 2pm. But I took a little break from yoga.

Yoga is expensive if you go to a studio like I do, but I need that studio space to focus and be present. Otherwise I’m fending of cats and waiting for videos to load and getting distracted by dirty dishes and emails. So off to the studio I go, usually with a friend in tow.

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Today we went and encountered a new instructor, which was pretty jarring. She had a different approach and style and we were not feelin’ it at all. We missed the calm, focused yoga we used to do with our usual instructor, so we walked out of yoga a bit more tense than we walked in. But this instructor did make a good point. It’s your practice. She said it about 1000 times so it really got hammered into our heads, but I’m trying to use that phrase to help me feel good about our yoga experience by choosing to feel good about it. Healthy living is all about a healthy mindset. Letting negativity and grumpiness to edge its way in, that’s how you’ll feel all day, thinking about that experience with a frown. We’ll probably go to this new instructor’s class again, and maybe we’ll enjoy it more next time. But for today, I’m going to choose to feel good about my choice to go to yoga and further my yoga practice and strengthen my body, letting that choice influence the rest of my choices today.

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To continue to nourish my body and keep a healthy mindset, I made these nutrition-packed bars. If you don’t have time to work out today or do something good for yourself, maybe you can make these little treats instead. Fruit and nut bars don’t sound good at all, even to me, but trust me. I have a major sweet tooth that consumes my life; so if I can eat these and feel like I’m eating a treat, I think you will too.

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These are essentially Lara bars. If you’ve never had one, it’s a mix of nuts and dates, with one or two other ingredients to give it a flavor. Today we’re doing a brownie version. People comment often on the high sugar count in these bars, but I don’t feel bad about it since I’m getting fiber and nutrients from the fruit and good healthy fats from the nuts. It’s like yummy trail mix in a tasty bar.

The ingredients are simple: dates, almonds, walnuts, a couple tablespoons of chocolate chips and cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt. But it tastes like a fudgey chocolatey treat.

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You can eat these as an afternoon pick-me-up, after a workout for a bit of energy, or even for dessert. I really love this bar and I hope you do to! They’re gluten and dairy free (make sure to grab dairy-free chips if need be), and infinitely adaptable – there are tons of recipes and ideas online, so if you like this one, go explore and experiment with others.

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Yum!

Fudge Brownie Fruit and Nut Bars 
Serves 6

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 cup packed whole dates
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
few sprinkles sea salt


Method:  Line a loaf pan with some lightly greased parchment paper. Soak the fruit in a cup of warm water for about 10 min, unless your fruit is very soft.
Add your nuts to your food processor, and process until nuts are very fine, but before they become a paste. Add in the remaining ingredients, processing until mixture comes together into a thick lump (mm…lumps.) This only took me a few minutes, but it could take your processor longer to combine everything.
Spread mixture into prepared pan with a greased rubber spatula, making it as evenly spread as possible. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Remove from pan and cut into 6 bars.
Wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap; will keep at room temperature for a few days, and in the refrigerator for a few weeks. 


Recipe adapted from Leite’s Culinaria