Picking berrries & making jam

This is how I spent the bulk of my weekend.  And it was awesome.  My mom came down to visit and wanted to get some use out of the big water bath canning pot she got me for my birthday so we set to work.  We drove out Smith’s Berry Barn which is the cutest place ever!  Not only do they have berries and produce to pick they also have a store on site where you can get just-picked fruits and veggies along with the most amazing gift shop ever.  I wanted everything! But I settled for a $30 bottle of lotion (side note, I know that is ridiculous but I HAD to have it).

Here are some snaps from the picking:

Bonus points for being run by Cougs :)

My mom :)

Amanda & me

So after we picked the berries (which we did in about 2 hours in the rain) we turned them into jam.  This was the 1st time I’ve made jam by myself.  Good thing my mom was around to help Amanda and I out or who knows what would have happened without her.

While my mom opted for a traditional recipe and used sugar, Amanda and I were determined to make “healthy” jam so we used honey and agave nectar.  Here’s the recipe we followed.  If I were to do it again, I’d cut way back on lemon juice and add a little more berries.  I wanted 3 solid pints and the original recipe got me 2.5.  I’d do something more like this:

Blackberry Honey Jam

  • 1 box no sugar pectin
  • 6 cups mashed  berries
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup honey or agave (we used a mix of both)

First, remove all the debris from your berries (my mom is an expert at this and does it in the field.  I learned the hard way and had to do it at home), lightly rinse with water and then mash them.

Definitely a little confusing to know how mashed is mashed enough.

And then measure out the cups.

Add the lemon juice and then bring to a boil on the stove.

Once your berries are on the stove, mix your honey/agave and pectin together and add to your berries once they start to boil.  Make sure you’re stirring this whole time and keep stirring (without reducing heat) until they set.  This was a little vague in the recipe we used and it turned out to be about 10 minutes.  You can test for “setness” but putting a little spoonful of berries in the freezer for about a minute.  You can easily tell when things have jelled.  Just keep cooking until set.

Then pour into jars.

Wipe off the rims, add the lids (make sure you get a tight seal) and add the rings.  Then put them in a water bath.

Make sure there is about 2 inches of water above the jars and bring to boil.  Put the lid on and boil for 20 minutes.  Remove the jars, check to make sure they sealed (the lid should be flat not popped) and store in a cool, dry place.

And there you go.  Jam.  If they don’t set you can pop them back into a water bath for another 20 minutes (2 had two jars that needed a 2nd round).

I also froze one flat for smoothies.  Lay all the berries out on a cookie sheet to freeze individually and then transfer to a freezer bag later.

I ended up with 7 jars of jam (a few from my mom’s berries) and an additional 2.5 gallon bags of frozen berries for smoothies.  It seems like a lot but I’m sure they’ll go fast.  Especially the frozen berries.  I’m actually considering going back next weekend for a few more and to check on their peppers and tomatoes which are supposed to be ready.  Now that I’ve tackled jam I’m ready to move onto tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Too bad my mom can’t come over every weekend.

Who out there has made jam?  Any favorite recipes?  Has anyone canned tomatoes and can tell me what I need to do for that?

 

 

 

 

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5 miles, Paddle Boards, Brews, Bike Rides & Birthdays

Ok so you remember here how I talked about the perfect day? Well I was wrong. Yesterday truly was the perfect day. Pure bliss. A day that I will hopefully remember for many, many years to come. It also happened to be my father-in-law’s 59th birthday and I hope that when I turn 59 I have a day like this (and can be as fit as Chris’ parents are).

To start the day off, Chris and I went for an almost 5 mile run. Together. I can’t even tell you the last time this happened. He runs much faster than I do so normally we split up but he wanted to keep his pace in check and I pushed myself a littler more than normal.

And then I kicked it at the pool for a little bit, getting deeper into Night Circus (which is a great book) before we went off on our main adventure of the day.

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding!!!! Chris and I had tried it once before in Mexico and it was kind of disaster. Not sure if it was a rough ocean or small board but we sucked. We’ve been wanting to try it again for quite a while and when we floated the idea by Chris’ dad he said he’d love to try it on his birthday. Fantastic! We have a friend who owns a place in Bend (Stand on Liquid) so we headed on over to pick up some boards.

All 4 of us stood up and paddled for almost 2 hours, going both with and against the Deschutes current. It was so much fun. Much easier than in Mexico but still super impressed that both of my in-laws were out there paddling around with the best of them. How many 58 & 59 year olds do that? In fact, Chris’ dad was flying back up the river on the way back in while I was struggling in the distance. I’m ready to buy a board and become a SUP addict. Only problem being Portland lacks in good spots to do it….Oh well, guess this is just another reason we need a place in Bend :)

And because apparently SUP burns 500-700 calories an hour, we decided to head over to Deschutes Brewery and treat ourselves to some icy cold beers.

After an amazing day in Bend we headed back out to Sunriver, cleaned up and rode our bikes out to the marina for dinner just as the sun was setting.

Dinner was a mix tamarind margaritas, enchiladas, burritos (a few too many mosquitoes), an owl sighting, and an awesome view of the moon.

Which was in full force for our bike ride home. Let me tell you, there’s just something about riding your bike in the cool summer air, in the middle of the country, surrounded by a river, under a full moon, with fantastic people that makes you want to pinch yourself. It’s hard to believe that this is my life. I am so thankful.

And to cap off the night we cheers’ed to Chuck. Happy 59th Birthday!

What a great family I married into.

I am so glad we got to have yesterday. It was a perfect ending to an absolutely perfect vacation.

And while I would love to sit here and share more pics from our trip I’ve got to get a move on…you know, showering, unpacking…all those good things. But before I go, I wanted to remind you that my Diet Bet starts today. I’m starting off at 138.8 pounds and by September 1st my goal is to get to 132 pounds which means I’ve got quite the challenge ahead of me. Good luck to the rest of the ladies joining me and if anyone else wants in it’s not too late to sign up.

Oh and by way, head over to Robin’s Bite where you can see a feature on my fridge and why I fill it the way I do.

Peanut Butter kind of day

My new shipment of PB2 was on the porch when we got home from work today.  I had been in out peanut flour for a while and it was horrible.  I was so sad.  I’d been using real peanut butter in our smoothies (oooh the horror!) and even Chris noticed.  The other day he asked what had happened to our peanut butter smoothies?  Thank goodness my stock is replenished.  I wasn’t thinking but I should have taken a pic of box – 2 jars of regular, 2 jars of chocolate and a bag of regular.  I don’t mess around I tell you.

And of course, I wanted some immediately so I whipped Chris and I up a pre-dinner protein shake.  I read somewhere that a protein shake made just with the powder and water/milk is a great way to fill up and help you avoid overeating at dinner.  I’ve tried it a couple of times and it seems to work.  Anyway, I got sidetracked.  Back to my smoothie. It was amazing!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

  • 4 tablespoons chocolate PB2 powder
  • 3/4 scoop protein powder ( I used Designer Whey French Vanilla)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • A handful of ice
  • 1 banana

Even though I’m super stuffed from dinner I wish I was drinking one right now.  I think I need to start stocking up on bananas because I feel like this would be great as a dessert.  Plus it served its purpose.  After we had these, Chris went out and mowed the yard while I got back on to the computer to follow-up on some work stuff.  Not only has work continued to be super busy but I found out today I’m going to be in a workshop all-day-long for the next 3 days.  Sheesh.  Looks like it’s morning workouts for this lady this week :)

Speaking of workouts I was hoping to get to my normal 12:15 pilates reformer class but I had to go to a lunch meeting.  Some people might like lunch meetings but I do not.  The noon hour is my time – my WORKOUT time.  A free sandwich does not make up for that.  But thankfully I found a little free time in my calendar and made it to the gym for some cardio.

  • 25 min slow run – we’re talking 5.6 pace.  I wanted to see how my knee felt going slow.  Surprise, surprise it still hurt.
  • 15 min on the rowing machine
  • 25 min on the bike at a decent resistance with the last 10 being 1 minute seated/out of the saddle intervals.

I ended it with some stretching and abs.  All the foam rollers, even the crummy ones, were mysteriously missing from the stretching room so that was a bummer.  I actually should be rolling out right now.

But before I head out, I have to tell you about my dinner.  Which also in a pleasant coincidence, included peanut butter.  Last week I was trying to come up with something that would allow me to use some leftover broccoli and I found this recipe. Because we didn’t end up getting to it last week I slated it for tonight’s dinner when I was meal planning yesterday.  I almost followed the recipe exactly.  My only changes? I used yakisoba noodles and added in chicken.  Seriously good.  We both loved it.  The only complaint is that it made A LOT of sauce.  I only used half of it and am going to attempt to re-use it tomorrow with red peppers instead of broccoli. If you don’t plan on re-using it I’d recommend halving what the recipe calls for – I’m pretty sure you’d get the same consistency.

Peanut Sauce with Linguini and Broccoli
Recipe from Will Cook For Friends


And now I’m off to foam roll and drink some water.  How are you all doing with the #hydrateinjuly challenge?  Slowly but surely I’m drinking more water in the morning.

 

Marathon Days

Phew, my last couple days have been kind of a whirlwind.  Let’s start with Thursday which looked a little like this:

  • 5:30-6:30 AM: Spin Bike Cardio
  • 8-2PM: Work.  With back-to-back meetings
  • 2:15 – 6:15 drive to Seattle.  Now for those of you not familiar with the Pacific NW this drive should not take 4 hours.  3 hours is the average time it takes but we got stuck in horrible traffic.
  • 6:30 – Meet up with my dad at my parents house. Pile in the car with him, Chris and my aunt. Freak out momentarily when their dog escapes and runs down the street.  Have to get to the play so decide to leave him and hope he comes home.
  • 7-7:45 – watch my adorable, beautiful, growing up too fast little sister star as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.

  • 7:45 – 8 – head back to my parents house, find the dog, put him back in the house.
  • 8-9:30 – Dinner at Elliot Bay Brewery

  • 10PM – say goodbye to my dad and sister.  Wish I could stay longer but alas work calls.
  • 10-1AM – drive back to Seattle (Chris drove, he’s a saint).
  • 1:30 – 6:30 – Slept
  • Get to work in time for my 8AM meeting.

The trip was crazy fast but I’m so glad I went.  I love my little sister.  Like I don’t even know if words could even describe it.  I grew up with my brother (who I also love) but Payton came along and changed the dynamic of my family.  Not only was she the sister I always wanted but she really helped heal some troubled relationship stuff that had been going on. I’ll always remember the day I got the email from my dad telling me my step-mom was pregnant :)  And because we’re 19 years apart and she lives 3 hours away from me it’s super important for me to still be a part of her life as much as I can and when she got the lead in Sleeping Beauty there was no question that we were going to get up to see it.  No matter what kind of scheduling/commitments we’d have to shift around.

Payton is quite the performer.  Check out her Facebook and YouTube channel if you want more proof.  My sister has talent and this was actually the 1st real life performance I got to see since her talent has become really obvious.  I was shocked at the girl I saw on stage.  My little sister is fading fast and getting replaced with a beautiful, teenager and I can’t wait for all the big things that are going to come up in the future.

And now back to my life…Friday flew by at work and then we went out to celebrate our friend Andy’s birthday.  Andy and Sunny are heading to Amsterdam in a few weeks so this was one of the last times we’ll get to hang out with them until they come back in January.  I’m going to miss them but they are heading off onto a super cool adventure and I know they’re going to have an amazing time.  Plus, word on the street is that I’ll be heading to Amsterdam for work in August so hopefully we’ll get to connect.

And of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without a nightcap at Journey’s.

Today we slept in and enjoyed a lazy morning with breakfast and coffee and then at around noon we met up with some friends and floated the Clackamas river.  I’ve lived here for 8 years and this is the 1st time I’ve ever floated that river.  It was awesome!  Such a perfect day.  The river has a couple little rapids but for the most part is just a couple hours of smooth sailing with great people.  Floating the Clackamas has always been on my Portland bucket list and I’m so glad I can finally cross it off.  Plus now that we know how fun and easy it is to do I’m sure there will be many more trips in our future.

And now we’re home, having Papa Murphy’s for dinner and enjoying a rare night in.

What about you guys?  What’s one thing on your summer bucket list?

2 dinner ideas + a must do treadmill workout

I have so many things to tell you right now and I don’t know where to start. So much has been going on in the past few days. Ok, well, not really. Pretty much the same actually. Work, workouts, dinner… but those normal, ordinary things have be pretty good. Starting with this dinner.

The recipe is pinned to my pinterest board and comes courtesy of Courtney at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. Basically you make Annie’s shells & white cheddar and add sausage, spinach and tomatoes except we didn’t have tomatoes we had red peppers so that’s what we did.

Which I loved! But Chris did not. Seriously. This dinner was one of my faves as of late. It was so good and so easy. I think I could eat this every week but Chris was just not a fan and that’s a major bummer. I tried asking him how I could change it to make it better and more or less it came down to the fact that he didn’t like the sausage (which was my fave part). So that won’t work. This might just have to be a dinner I make when I’m having single ladies night.

What about you? Are there any meals that you love that your husband/sig other doesn’t? How do you get around it? 2 dinners? Meal modifications?

But lets move on to dinner number 2. Chris was downtown at a work dinner so I was on my own and came up with what I may call my most random dinner ever, or maybe fridge dump dinner? The directions are pretty simple…find random things in your fridge that are going to go bad if you don’t eat them and mix them together.

Quinoa, sausage and green veggies

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 Italian chicken sausage
  • handful green beans
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • red pepper flakes
  • garlic
  • goat cheese

Combine everything but the quinoa and goat cheese on the stove over medium heat. Once cooked, add to quinoa. Top with goat cheese. Eat. Enjoy. Yum.

And now for the workout…

Today I did my normal 12:15 pilates reformer class and followed it up with some cardio courtesy of Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers. Julie is always posting crazy treadmill workouts but today’s was particularly nutty/awesome. At one point I was running at a 15 incline. 15 incline! I’m pretty sure people were starting at me at the gym thinking “whoa, crazy girl.” But it was great. And I got super sweaty and now my legs are crazy sore.

Here’s the workout:

Source

And here’s what I looked like after it:

Let me know if you try it. I dare you to :)

And what did I do to celebrate this great day of working out and eating well? I went to Journey’s of course. And had some delicious Deschutes Twilight. Can’t beat it on a sunny day.

And that’s mostly what I’ve got. Tomorrow is dinner club. We’re doing taco bar and I can’t wait. I’m also going to try and get up early and ride the spin bike.

We shall see…

The jam plan

Do you remember the Friend’s episode where Monica breaks up with Richard and in order to feel better she makes tons and tons of jam?  I think eventually she gives up the jam plan and then decides to just have babies or something along those lines…I miss Friends.  Such a great show.

Anyway, back to the point of my story.  Jam.  I love jam.  And lately I’ve been seeing tons of recipes for chia seed jam and it’s been intriguing me. First, a little review of what chia seeds are…they look like this:

And sometimes come in a package that looks like this.  I typically buy Bob’s Red Mill brand but I couldn’t find them this time.

The benefits of chia seeds are awesome.  They have omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, iron and protein.  I’ve put them in my overnight oats, on peanut butter toast for a little crunch, and in my smoothies (beware they do get in your teeth).  And now I’ve made jam with them. See, once you soak the seeds in liquid they expand and turn sort of jelly like and I’m assuming that quality is what led people to start making jam with them.

I’d seen a couple different recipes floating around but I decided to try out this one from Brittany at Eating Bird Food (mostly because her pics looked amazing). The original recipe is here but I had a few more strawberries than she did so I modified it just a little.

Strawberry Chia Jam (courtesy of Eating Bird Food)

  • 1.5 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1.5 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • Agave nectar to taste (you could also use stevia or honey)

Directions:  Mash up the strawberries (I tried using a fork but that took too long so eventually I just tossed them into the blender).  Add chia seeds, water and agave. Cover and store in the fridge for at least an hour.

I poured the jam from the bowl into a mason jar before storing in the fridge.  I mean, jam just belongs in a mason jar.  I really had no choice.

And then later I broke it out for a taste test.  I topped a plain rice cake with Justin’s Honey PB and then added the jam.  Verdict?  Winner!  Honestly it tasted like regular strawberry jam and I felt really good knowing there was nothing funky or artificial in it.

In fact, the jam was so good even Chance wanted some.

Well actually he probably wanted the PB but I’m sure he would have enjoyed the jam.

And in other non-jam news, I’m working from home today and even though I wanted to just sit around and watch the Today Show, I hopped on the spin bike for some sweaty cardio.  I rode for 30 minutes at a moderate resistance (while watching the final segment of the Weight of the Nation documentary) and then 15 minutes of intervals – 1 minute recovery, 30 seconds out of the saddle with hard resistance.

And then I ate this for breakfast…blueberry protein smoothie, an egg pouf with hot sauce (2 eggs microwaved for 1:30) and some coffee with almond milk.  Breakfast of champions I tell you.

And I’m out.  Off to get some work done before we go camping.  Normally I would be super excited except that in typical Pacific Northwest fashion, the weather forecast is calling for nonstop showers which ironically doesn’t phase me all that much since the last 3 times we’ve camped it’s been in the rain. Luckily I’ve got some rain pants.

Do you guys have any fun plans for the weekend?  What are your thoughts on rain camping?  Would you still go or bag it?

Oh and I also wanted to pass this along.  The Fitnessista, my all-time favorite blogger was picked as one of the top 10 online fitness influencers.  How freaking cool is that?  She’s the one who inspired me to start blogging and start experimenting more with foods.  Love her.  And of course my fave lady ever, Jillian, took home the #1 spot – freaking rockstar.

What do you guys think about this list?  Are you influenced by anyone on there?

 

 

 

 

Spicy Penne Rosa Pasta with Shrimp

In our house cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, hot mustard, and siracha sauce are staples.   We like things with heat!  And usually I add a little bit of something to give our meals that extra kick.  So when I decided to marinate the shrimp for this meal in a couple teaspoons of cayenne pepper I thought it would be no big deal.

Well guess what?  My husband had to eat tums after dinner and went to bed a couple of hours later still complaining of heartburn.  It was then I realized I may have overdone things. Whoops.  Lesson learned.  However, this dish was amazing and I’d highly encourage you to try it.  But don’t marinate the shrimp in pepper.  Unless you want to burn your throat and cry your eyes out.

Spicy Penne Rosa Pasta with Shrimp
Adapted from this recipe at Back to Her Roots.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.) chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 24 medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 oz goat cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook penne according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for 2 minutes or until garlic begins to soften.
  3. Add in tomatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes
  4. Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and place skillet back over low heat. Add the penne, Greek yogurt and goat cheese. Stir until sauce is mixed well and all pasta and veggies are coated. Heat until just warmed through.

This meal was great.  Seriously.  Don’t let the spicy story above scare you away.  I was actually fine with the heat.  Certainly hotter than some of our other dishes but not unbearable to me (if you want it hotter, coat the shrimp in two teaspoons cayenne before you cook them).  I think adding in the goat cheese helped to tone it down a bit.  Did you know if your mouth is on fire from something hot you should drink milk?  True story.  At least that was my reasoning behind adding in goat cheese.  I think it worked.

Another true story?  That spicy foods are good for you!  Eating hot things has serious health benefits so if you’re not on the picante train, you should be.  Check out this article from Self Magazine on the benefits of spicy foods:

1. Weight Loss: For one, the extra kick of hot sauce or a chopped jalapeno can make even the most bland diet food more palatable, causing you to be more likely to stick with your weight loss plan. In addition, they may jack up your metabolism. Studies show that the main compound in chilies, called capsaicin, has a thermogenic effect and may cause the body to burn bonus calories for 20 minutes post chow-down.

2. Heart Health: Studies show that cultures that eat the most spicy food have much lower incidence of heart attack and stroke. Potential reasons: Chili peppers can reduce the damaging effects of LDL (bad cholesterol) and capsaicin may fight inflammation, which has been flagged as a risk factor for heart issues.

3. Cancer Prevention: According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin has the ability to kill some cancer and leukemic cells. One particular spice, turmeric, found in curry powder and some mustards, may slow the spread of cancer and growth of tumors. “It has the same effects on the body as certain cancer drugs do.” says Gregory A. Plotnikoff, M.D., senior consultant for health care innovation at Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota. Pair it with black pepper to absorb 2,000 percent more turmeric. Fantastic on roasted veggies or kebabs, or in soups.

4. Lower Blood Pressure: Vitamins A and C strengthen the heart muscle walls, and the heat of the pepper increases blood flow throughout your body. All of this equals a stronger cardiovascular system.

5. Fewer Blow-Your-Top Moments: Spicy foods boost production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin. So they may help ease depression and stress.
What about you guys?  Are you fans of spicy foods?  I actually avoided most hot things until I met Chris and now I can’t get enough.

 

No resting at the gym

Yesterday at the gym I saw 6 different people on the elliptical resting their arms during their workout.  6.  6 people.  Including a guy.  That’s crazy to me.  I get that some days you’re going to hop on a bike or elliptical with a trashy gossip magazine and leisurely pedal your way through 30 minutes of easy cardio but I just don’t believe that all 6 of these people were having that type of day.  I think these people we just phoning it in (Jillian Michaels’ term)  a little bit and not giving it all their all.  When you’re doing your cardio, do your cardio.  Work up a sweat.  Move your arms!  Do not rest them on the sides of the machine.  You’ll raise your heart rate and burn more calories.  And while we’re on the topic of cardio, please add some resistance.  It’s great if you’re pumping your arms and moving your legs but you need some resistance on there to make a difference.  Plus it will help you build muscle.  And that’s good.

Now that I’m done ranting, here’s what I did at the gym:

20 minute warm-up on the rowing machine
Leg Extension: 50 lbs. 3 sets of 20 reps
Leg/Chest circuit 3 times through:

  • Deadlifts – 50 lbs.  15 reps
  • Squats – 50 lbs.  15 reps
  • Squats with leg lift – 15 on each side
  • Chest flies (lying on a weight bench) – 15 lbs. 12 reps.
  • Chest press (lying on a weight bench) – 15 bs.  12 reps
  • Step ups – 20 on each leg

Tricep extension – 25lbs.  3 sets of 12.
Leg press: 160 lbs.  3 sets of 12.
20 minutes on the elliptical.  Alternating minutes of level 7 (slower) and level 4 (quick).

I got home and we had a quick protein smoothie to hold us over until dinner.

Banana Strawberry Protein smoothie (serves 2)
Blend everything and enjoy.

  • 1/2 cup frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 4 scoops vanilla protein powder (I use vitacost whey)
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup non-fat organic milk

After smoothies, we headed to the driving range where I realized that all of my golf lessons from last year have been forgotten.  I was pretty bad.  More than 50% of the time I swung a club and didn’t hit a ball.  But it was still fun.  I’m going to go back this weekend.

And then after golf we headed into the village and hit up Lucky Lab where I only ate one slice of pizza.  That’s big.  I never eat just one slice.  Go me.  And then we headed to Journeys.  1st time there in 2 weeks!  I had two glasses of Rose and then we headed home.

Talk about no rest!  I was go go going until 10pm.  Sheesh.  Things are almost back to normal today.  Longer than normal morning meeting but I’m going to try to get to pilates at 1:15.  Can’t wait.

Question for you – when you’re at the gym, are you guilty of not giving your all?  Do you rest your arms on the elliptical?  Or veg out and watch TV?

 

Fun with protein powder on a Friday night

Wild Friday night over at this house.  Let me tell you.  While Chris is off in Vegas at a Bachelor party I decided to experiment with protein powder and see what kind of semi healthy treats I could make.  I made 3 things and while all of them are delicious, I don’t know how “healthy” any of them are.  I’ll let you be the judge below.

Butterscotch Oatmeal Protein Cookies

I saw a recipe on the back of our oatmeal box and tried to figure out how to make it healthier and add in some additional protein.  I know baking is a science and things need to be a certain way to turn out right but I’ll tell you right now I don’t roll that way.  I dump stuff into a bowl and see what happens.  And these turned out pretty good. After they came out of the oven I let them cool and then stored them in the freezer.  Mostly so that if I really want a cookie I have to let it thaw and hopefully that will prevent me from eating a million in one setting.

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Mix everything together and place slightly flattened balls on an un-greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Makes 24-30 cookies

  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup protein powder (I used vitacost vanilla whey)
  • 1 cup coconut flour (if I make these again I would use regular flour)
  • 1 &1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/2 bag butterscotch chips

Nutrition per cookie (from myfitnesspal):
130 calories
5 g protein
5 g sugar
7 g fat (this is good fat from the coconut oil)
3 g fiber

Up next is something I don’t even know if I should share on here because they are so good they’ll probably get you in trouble.  And then you’ll get mad at me for telling you about them.  But they’re soooooooo good.

I started brainstorming about a new protein bar on Monday after I ate a Zone bar in the car on the way home from the beach. The protein bars I made a couple of weeks ago were good but I wanted that crunch from the Zone bar.  And so I found a recipe from Dashing Dish.  If you have not checked out her updated site, you must.  It’s awesome.  I mean, how could you not want to make something called Peanut Butter Protein Rice Crispy Treats?  The DD version had 9 grams of protein per bar and only made 9.  I wanted to double that amount and get a couple more grams of protein so again, more experimentation.  And I will admit at one point I was dumping random things in so I’m hoping this is an accurate recipe.  Worse case, follow the one on Dashing Dish.  You won’t be disappointment.

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Protein Bars
(Original Recipe belongs to Dashing Dish).  My version makes about 18 bars.

  • 5 cups gluten free rice crispy treats (the GF brand was cheaper than Kellogg.  Unless you have to be GF you could use the original)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used TJ’s creamy Valencia with sea salt)
  • 1/4 cup protein plus peanut flour
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
  • 2 cups protein powder (I used vitacost vanilla whey)
  • 1/2 bag dark chocolate chunks
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Now the directions is where it gets a little tricky.  In the DD version, Katie says to mix everything together in a bowl. Instead, I started out with the food processor because I wanted the apricots chopped.  I got through the apricots, PB, peanut flour, honey, banana, flax, protein powder, and then after adding in 2 cups of the rice crispies I realized I had a problem.  The food processor ground up the cereal so that it was super fine and that’s not what I wanted.  I wanted the crunch of the crispies.  So at that point I transferred everything out of the food processor and into a bowl and painstakingly mixed in the rest of the cereal.  I DO NOT recommend this method.  The mixture was so gluey from all the fruit and honey, plus the protein powder was getting thick… It was a serious workout getting everything mixed.  I even had to give up and eventually mix it all by hand.  If I were to do this again, I would mix up the apricots and banana in the food processor and then transfer to a stand mixer or huge bowl and then mix everything together.  I think it would be a lot easier.

After I got everything mixed, I pressed it into a 9×13 pan sprayed with olive oil.  Then I melted the chocolate plus coconut oil in the microwave (you really need to watch this so it doesn’t burn.  I’d go about 15 sec, mix and then 15 more).  The chocolate will be super liquidy but that’s ok.  Pour it over the rice crispy mixture and tilt the pan so it covers everything.  Pop the whole thing in the freezer for a couple of hours.  And voila.  Done.  But be careful.  Don’t try them or you will end up eating 3.

Nutrition per bar (from myfitnesspal):
300 calories
13 g protein
10 g sugar (These would be good without chocolate which would cut down the sugar)
15 g fat (this is a lot but some of it is good from the coconut and peanut butter)
3 g fiber

And after I had made both of those I had leftover bags of both dark chocolate and butterscotch chips.  And at first I put them in freezer and was done in the kitchen for the night.  But then I realized that unless those chips were used up, I would be going back to the freezer constantly until I’d eaten my way through both bags.  So I came up with this completely random recipe.

Butterscotch/Chocolate haystacks
Melt the chips and mix everything together.  Scoop into balls and freeze.  Store in the freezer.   Makes about 18 stacks.

  • 1/2 bag dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 bag butterscotch chips
  • 4 tablespoons ground flax
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 2 cups Kellogg bran buds
  • 1 cup GF rice crispies

Nutrition per stack (FYI I’m not claiming that these are good for you):
130 calories
3 g protein
11 g iron
5 g fiber
14 g sugar
7 g fat

These are definitely a dessert and I’m hoping one of these little guys will be enough to ward off those after dinner sweet cravings I always seem to get.

So there you go.  3 ways to use protein powder.  After all of that time in the kitchen I was exhausted so I curled up on the couch and caught up on Revenge and New Girl.  This morning I got sucked into a marathon of Bethenny Every After and now it’s almost noon and I feel like I’ve done nothing with my day besides watch TV, blog and eat oatmeal.  I’m going to spend some time with my friend the spin bike and then I have a bridal shower to go to at 2.

I know it’s Cinco De Mayo but after my big bday last weekend and with Chris out of town, I’m not super into it.  I would be quite happy if I spent another night cozied up on the couch with a girly chick flick.  But I might hit up Journey’s with some friends later.  Do you guys ever have weekends like that?  Where you want to do nothing but stay in?

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Easy ways to add in exercise + guest posting on a new site

I’ve been part of the blogosphere for a while as a reader and only a couple of months as a writer but I’ve always been intrigued when I meet guest bloggers on my regularly read blogs.  I love getting new perspective and finding new places to visit.  So I was nothing short of thrilled when I found out about a site called The Indie Chicks... An online magazine for passionate, ambitious women craving inspiration, motivation and a community of like-minded chicks?  And they wanted me to write for them.  Seriously, sign me up.  Their site launched yesterday and you should definitely go check it out.  Plus, you can find me there :)  Nothing bad with a little self promotion right?

5 easy ways to sneak in exercise…

And for anyone coming here from The Indie Chicks, welcome!  Glad you found me.  I love new friends.  You can read more about me here.

By the way, my post couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.  Not only did I spend a weekend enjoying myself, and will be heading to Mexico in 22 days but I’m also spending the next 5 working days at a photo shoot.  Days like these make me realize how cool my job is.  I get to hang out with models, photographers, stylists… but I’ll also be in a studio all day – no lunchtime access to the gym and I’ll be surrounded with tons of treats and temptations.  I’m serious.  Doughnuts, muffins, candy, trail mix, cookies… I have a hard time avoiding everything for one day in the studio.  Five is going to take all the will power I can muster.  Wish me luck.

And because I’m not able to get my lunchtime workout in, I planned on getting up this morning and riding the spin bike but somebody (ok, me) stayed up too late last night watching TV… The Biggest Loser finale was on and while I’m super bummed Kim didn’t win I’m glad Jeremy took it over Condo.  And then after that we decided to watch a DVR’d episode of CSI Miami (Horatio is such a stud).  Instead, I’m planning to do a Jillian and 20 minutes worth of spinning when I get home.  I’m super excited because I’m having brussels sprouts with dinner tonight and those things take a while to roast so I figure I’ll get a little sweat session on and then have a healthy dinner (we’re doing stir-fry as well).

Oh and by the way, yesterday I did my best workout of the week, minus the frog kicks and crunches and it was still a killer but I’m thinking the frog kicks really pushed things over the edge because I’m not quite as sore as I was last week.  There’s always tomorrow though so you never know.

Ok that’s it.  Off to the shoot.  Have a good Wednesday and let me know what you think of The Indie Chicks. There’s a lot more fashion/lifestyle content than I find on my usual blogs and that’s not my area of expertise so hopefully I can learn some things.