Work-Week Day Meals

31 Mon, 2011 § 2 Comments

I am a fan of planning, especially when it comes to food; otherwise I am left standing, staring blankly, in the kitchen…usually snacking while I debate over options.  If it is unplanned, to-go lunches we are talking about, I end up rummaging in haste the morning of…& likely do not take enough nourishment with me.  You do not want me hungry; ask Dave.

My lunch planning is two fold:

1.  Create a flexible yet solid daytime meal outline, meaning I list my options/desired meals even if not the exact day I will have these.  I also try to account for weekend preparation at this point & dinners I want to make extra for leftovers.

2.  Plan & prep the night before.

This week, some of my options include

  • dolmas salad
  • buckwheat groats
  • roasted beets, sweet potato
  • leftover lentils
  • leftover chili
  • bok choy with chickpeas
  • lentil-walnut burgers
  • leafy salads
  • fruit

This includes breakfast, snacks & lunch, which to me are interchangeable; I have become someone who does not have to have breakfast foods for breakfast.  Sometimes leftovers are just too perfect, & it is what my body wants.  I might have something small, like a protein smoothie or simply lemon water, for a bit of energy before leaving the house; if I bike, I usually eat after the ride to avoid feeling sick.  I am also ok with most things at room temp or just warm but do not care for piping-hot leftovers.

On Sunday, I made barley & tossed ingredients for deconstructed dolmas & could have made the buckwheat groats as well, but waited until Monday morning to simmer these, stirring a little molasses in at the end of cooking.

*Quick note on grains: I like to switch them up & eat a variety.  By buying bulk, I can get only what I need at a time.  Though I have my favorites, I try to alternate each time I visit the store.  Instead of your usual oats, try buckwheat groats or farro.

Back to Sunday.  I premixed my buckwheat porridge mix-ins by toasting 3/4 C pistachios then tossing them with 1/8 tsp all spice, 1/8 tsp nutmeg & 1/4 tsp cinnamon.  This will keep ~1 week.  The night before I dish my cooked groats into my tiffin; in the morning I add some nuts, dried apricots from the fridge I chopped in advance & a spoonful of pomegranate seeds [also de-seeded over the weekend].

Mid-morning snack: check.

Over the weekend, we had a big batch of chili waiting in the slow-cooker.  This meant our post-bouldering starvation would be satisfied with [vegan]chili dogs AND leftover chili would serve as delicious, hardy lunches during the [snowy]week.  Big batches can always be frozen for later consumption too.

Dave was also really smart in his planning & bought an extra tilapia fillet he baked with our fishy, Sunday dinner, so he could make himself a fish sandwich for lunch.

We have ample greens & legumes for salads, veggies to roast when making dinner throughout the week — including kale chips for snacking — & seasonal fruit like oranges from our CSA & a good-sized bundle of apples I snagged.

As for the Deconstructed Dolmas, it is quick to throw together & yummy.  I am anxious to deconstruct further.

Rinse & add 1 C pearled barley [or grain of choice] to 2 C boiling water; reduce heat, cover & simmer 30 – 40 minutes until cooked & water absorbed.

Cool slightly & toss with remaining ingredients:

  • 5 grape leaves, patted dry, rolled & sliced thinnly
  • 1/3 C currants [soak in hot water to soften if they are hard]
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C walnuts, toasted & chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • dash of red pepper flakes, optional


Do you plan your meals for the week?  Do you have to prep in advance?  What delicious, packable meals do you enjoy during the work/school week?

Keepin’ It Clean

27 Thu, 2011 § 4 Comments

Convenient.  Gets the job done.  Disposes of the messy evidence.

No wonder we have a hard time letting go of paper towels.  We are trying though.  They are probably one of the biggest waste contributors & likely the easiest to give up —

because the alternatives work even better.

Inexpensive microfiber cloths are easy to find — I found a pack of 5 for $5 at Family Dollar — these stay in the kitchen, readily available when the moment hits.  They have worked great & obviously absorb even better than a paper towel.

Something that is not as seamless to get rid of are garbage bags/liners for the trash can.  It means we will be hauling the container out, but we have yet to make a trip out there since becoming more mindful of our waste…though we forgot to put it in the closed closet & even if you have a perfect little pup…if you leave the garbage out, she is going to string it all over the house get in it…

Not having a liner means wiping out the garbage can more often, but I don’t mind having a cleaner, more sanitary pail anyway.

Speaking of sanitary, I have never been a fan of sponges or replaceable scrub-brushes.  They sort of gross me out.  I have always used 100% cotton-yarn, handmade dishcloths.

My mom crocheted some for me when I first moved out & taught me to make them myself; I have also learned to knit them.  This cute flower-shaped one was actually crocheted by my grandma.  I love the way they work & the fact I just throw them in the wash to clean them.

I recently grabbed a set of Twist sponge blossoms for a little extra scrubbage, which gross me out less than typical sponges; though honestly I have only used it once.  You can wash it in the top rack of your dish washer.

Hand-washing dishes has changed quite a bit for me.  I realized we used wasted a lot of water with our usual method, so now I do what I have always had a hard time doing: fill the sink — even the rinse side which is something I learned from my father-in-law — I have always dreaded reaching into “dirty” dish water.  Oh well, I got over it.  I also almost always keep the stopper in to catch water when we wash our hands, rinse pots, pans, etc. & just place dishes in to soak [before adding it to the dishwasher] rather than constantly running the faucet to rinse.  I have even been holding onto a recipe for our own dishwasher detergent, which I will share as soon as I run out of our current.

Something I will share now to make up for all the dirty talk:

If you are unaware, I love chickpea flour.  When Ashley made Chickpea Bake, I had to try it.  I love the texture; it’s dense & most.  I left the curry out & did not really care for the garlicky flavor though, so I tried it again with my own twist & loved how it toyed between sweet & savory.

Here is my Cinnamon Basil variation, but check out her original recipe too.

  • 1 1/4 C chickpea flour
  • 1 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1T unsweetened applesauce maple syrup
  • 1T safflower oil coconut oil [I melted the oil in my ~9×9 baking dish then poured it into the rest of the ingredients to mix.  I had my oil; the pan was greased!]
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1t curry
  • 1/2t garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • few shakes of garam masala
  • 1 – 2 tsp basil [1 for subtle & sweeter; 2 for a stronger savory flavor]
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine dry ingredients; combine wet ingredients.

Mix together until just combined.

Bake at 375* for 30 minutes. [Ashley’s baked for 40 minutes but mine didn’t need that long, so check at 30.]


Have you ever baked with chickpea flour?

What are your favorite cleaning/waste reduction methods in the kitchen?

All Wrapped Up & Pumped Out

20 Thu, 2011 § 2 Comments

Loving your body means giving it what it wants.

Mine wants nutbutter any time it can get its hands on it.

I have decided I probably should not have a nutbutter sandwich all that often — or at least not every day — but last Wednesday, I really wanted one after two days in a row of indulgence.  I compromised & decided I could have a big dose of sunflower seed butter if I ate it with greens.  Collard leaves on the verge of wilting found their purpose.

Now know while I love slow-braised collard greens, I have never enjoyed them raw; I find them too bitter.  Something worked here though.  The sweetness of the bananas balanced the bitterness out, plus because I did not eat these wraps freshly made, they softened & reduced in bitterness as they soaked in all the flavors.  I love these — have even tried one with raisins but prefer banana — & they have replaced my need for nutty-buttery-sandwiches.

I even talked Dave into tasting a bite.


Dave: “While I was eating it, I really liked it; then I got the aftertaste which tasted like collard.

Which I don’t like.”


Aw well, almost had him.

[the stalks make good dog treats — crazy Eis loves ’em.]

Since loving my body is not about deprivation, giving it something that is like a treat — like nutbutter —  in moderation is a good thing.  Creating a nourishing snack for my body from that treat feels even better.  This was a great bouldering snack!

Speaking of climbing, remember our pull up commitment training?  It is still going strong. 🙂

We have had this Iron Gym doorway pull up bar for years & love it.  It is as versatile as the review claims, though I only use it for pull ups & occasionally push ups.  Dave found it for a good price at Big 5.

Another aspect of loving my body is challenging it; this is HUGE for me to maintain positive thoughts about my body.  Rather than avoiding difficult exercises, embrace the challenge & revel in how our bodies strengthen from them.  Pull ups are a perfect challenge.  I do not want to be the crazy pull up lady, so of course you do not have to choose pull ups.  I have realized a lot of women neglect upper body though, so again, pull ups are perfect. 😉  Plus, they are difficult — for women especially; so it feels that much better when you start to master them.  Even some of the strongest woman can only do 5 – 6 at a time.

Set a small goal to be able to do 1 – 2 within a couple weeks & build from there.  If you cannot do a single pull up yet, do not be discouraged.  If your bar is low enough, use your feet to push off the ground for a little boost.  You can also use a chair to create an assisted pull up; better yet, grab your yoga ball to really work your core stabilizers.  If you are doing assisted, just don’t hold back & make it about your lower body by using too much of your leg power.  Give it everything you have using your upper body before engaging your legs to push the rest of the way up.  Honestly, it has taken me a long time to really train my  body to do a good pull up; you have to really engage all the muscles through your back [not just your arms] & PULL.

We are off to the climbing gym for a quick, evening session — I scored a buy-one-get-one-free day pass!  We climbed during lunch; but that was short, & we need to get our money’s worth & earn that day pass!

Enjoy your evening!


How are you challenging your body?

“Sunshine” in January

18 Tue, 2011 § 1 Comment

I spend nearly 8 hours a day typing away on a computer.  I am going to be completely honest:  coming home & sitting in front of the screen is one of the last things I feel like doing.

Frankly, I am still figuring my work schedule out, prioritizing how I spend my time & trying to ensure I get enough rest.  I am still anxious to talk more about how I am loving my body but I do not want to just throw some words on the page tonight.

So bare with me, please keep coming back & add a little lot of color to brighten your own busy day.

Oranges in January?

I have never lived where citrus grows.  Though it is certainly not blooming in Flagstaff,  we are less than three hours from Phoenix.  Apparently they are blooming there, & a lovely, young women brought a bag of fresh oranges & lemons from her grandma’s trees to share with everyone at work!

Blood Oranges nonetheless,

& who doesn’t love having fresh lemon juice around to add to dishes?

Orange-Kissed Quinoa with Fennel & Apricots

A new favorite! I wanted to throw together a dish that was clean & flavorful. This was it.

  • 1 C quinoa, rinsed
  • 1.5 C water
  • small piece kombu
  • ½ fennel, cored & thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp dried sage

Combine in a pot, bring to a boil, cover & simmer ~20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked & water is absorbed, adding sage toward end of cooking time.  Discard kombu.

  • zest of 1 orange
  • ½ C dried apricots, chopped
  • ¼ C walnut pieces, toasted
  • generous [or not so generous ;)] pinch of sea salt

Toss the remaining ingredients with the quinoa.

Savor this burst of citrus sweetness amidst the brisk, January air.


When your free time is limited, what do find yourself doing most?  What do you find you cut out?

Gingerbread Quinoa Crunch

8 Wed, 2010 § 2 Comments

Quinoa granola has been an obsession of mine ever since Ashley first created it.  This time I didn’t want to cook the quinoa in coconut milk though, & I wanted to give it a very distinct autumn flavor.


Another obsession of mine that might be more apparent: I get a little carried away infusing foods with tea & not just for breakfast.

Ginger & quinoa?  There was no way that wasn’t going to turn out beautifully.

One problem: I only had one bag of ginger tea left.  So I added another teaspoon of powdered ginger to the cooking quinoa & carried on, ending up with subtle ginger undertones.  Lovely!  I knew it wouldn’t stand out much once combined with the other ingredients, so I adjusted the recipe to make double strength tea & also added gingerbread spice to the mix.

Mmmm.  Festive & warming — great for snacking — & even more delicious if it’s drowned in almond milk.

Autumn Quinoa Granola

makes ~4 cups

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 4 bags ginger tea [I like Yogi Lemon Ginger or you could just add powdered ginger]

Steep tea 5 – 10 minutes.

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed

Combine tea & quinoa & bring to a simmer.

  • 2 tsp vanilla

Stir in vanilla.

Cover, reduce heat & simmer 15 – 20 minutes until quinoa is cooked & water is absorbed.

Allow to sit covered for a few minutes before fluffing.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

  • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
  • ½ cup almonds, chopped
  • 2 T raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 T raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 2 T hemp seeds
  • dash salt

Combine with quinoa.

  • 2 T brown rice syrup
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T coconut oil, melted

Whisk together syrups & oil.  Stir into quinoa mixture.

  • ½ – 1 tsp gingerbread spice mix, optional

Mix into granola.

Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet & bake for 1 hour at 350*F, stirring every 15 minutes, until slightly browned & dry.  If it starts to brown too quickly reduce to 300*F.

  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Sprinkle cranberries over cooked granola & allow to cool completely before transferring to an air-tight container.


What is your favorite granola?

Biscuits & Gravy…sort of

29 Mon, 2010 § 3 Comments

Good morning!

I have been trying to find ways to get in more protein for breakfast, so dinner leftovers have come in handy.

It reminded me of a sort of vegan biscuits & gravy…& it was too simple.

Ezekial english muffins, toasted & buttered with Earth Balance

Leftover lentil stew, warmed

A couple dollops of cashew cream

Lentil Stew

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped [I was out but think it would be a nice addition]

Saute in a small saucepan in EVOO over medium heat until fragrant.

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp pasta toss spice [basil, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic]
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash sea salt
  • jarred/canned tomatoes, drained [I used a half quart of my mom’s]
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp carob

Combine with garlic & saute ~1 minute.

  • juice from jarred tomatoes + water = 2 cups

Add liquid & bring to boil.  Reduce heat & simmer until lentils are soft & cooked, ~50 minutes.

This thick stew was tasty & warming after bouldering in the cold, but it was missing a little something.  I stirred in a couple dollops of cashew cream.  Mmm.

I loved it even more the next morning.


I am rediscovering lentils.  What is your favorite way to make them?

I Think We Should Be Naughty…for Breakfast

28 Sun, 2010 § 7 Comments

This post is supposed to be a cure for our post celebration dinner bangover  [ask Rachel what that means], but honestly we woke up feeling amazing.  We spent the morning singing songs about Eisley to the tune of Beach Boy’s Run, Run Reindeer — instigated by Dave of course — while she ran around the baseball field.

Apparently we were in good humor.

Obviously we are comfortable enough to be silly with each other — we certainly should be after nearly 5 years.

Apparently we are not past the point of wanting to be silly with each other.  🙂  We never plan to be past it, because we make a point of being silly…I think we should make a point every day.

After our morning walk, I was desperate for something naughty…but not too naughty.

I wanted delicious…but not a lot of effort.

Fortunately, I had planned ahead & incorporated dinner leftovers into breakfast.

You all just gagged, didn’t you?

Stay with me; I’m not going to lure you to the dark side…even though steamed kale with ginger & real garlic toast is one the best breakfasts ever…I don’t think you’re ready.

So we’ll go slow.

Remember the sweet potato gnocchi I made by hand?  I roasted extra sweet potatoes for breakfast.

Then I remembered the best crust ever & knew Thanksgiving would not be complete without pie.

Pie makes everything better…or even better.

This one is indulgent but still seems healthy.

The pecan & chickpea flour crust is rich & creamy & lends an amazing texture & taste;  it complements the silky smooth & rich filling superbly.  This is probably my favorite pie crust ever — this is probably my favorite pie.

This Silky Sweet Potato Pie is from one of my favorite & most often used cookbooks, Clean Food by Terry Walter’s. I don’t feel ok posting her recipe, but am more than happy to email it to anyone who would like to try it — & I really think you should because it’s so good & so simple.  If you’ve never made pie & are a little intimidated, this is a great one to start with.  I promise.  Just send me a message & you can be a little naughty in the morning too.

I easily could have devoured this pie alone, but I thought we needed at least a little protein to follow our workout.  I still had a couple spoonfuls of the best greek yogurt; so before taking a little hiatus from dairy, I thought this would be the perfect way to finish it off.

After the Green Tea Cashew Cream, I’m a little obsessed with infusing tea into food.  So it was time to play around with Dave’s favorite tea, Chai.

Chai Greek Yogurt

  • Fage or other greek yogurt [I only had ~¼ C but use more if you have it!]
  • substantial dash of cheater’s chai
  • agave or other sweetener, to taste

Combine all ingredients to taste & whip until smooth.

Cheater’s Chai

Equal parts:

  • ground Cardamon
  • Chinese five spice powder or Garam Marsala


I used Chinese five spice which had much more of a fennel taste than I was expecting. This also packed a little heat! It was still good, but if you’re not a huge fan of black licorice, I would go with garam marsala.

What?  More tea?

I told you I’m obsessed.

I actually stirred several pinches of one of my favorite teas into the pie filling.

Rooibos [roy-bos] is extremely high in antioxidants, caffeine-free & low in tannin.  It can even help with allergies & digestive issues…& it’s yummy.

Dave didn’t pick up on it; it added only a very subtle, sweet, earthy flavor to the pie.  I wonder what would happen if you steeped it with the milk before blending the filling.   Mmmm, now I’m craving more pie.

Aren’t you? 😉


What’s your favorite pie?  I’m not a huge cake fan in general, but I LOVE pie.

What’s your favorite “naughty” breakfast?


Happy Day After

26 Fri, 2010 § Leave a comment

I hope you had a lovely & safe Thanksgiving — & that you stay safe if you are out & about today!  Yikes, we avoid the Black Friday frenzy at all costs.

Even though Dave & I had a fairly simple Thanksgiving yesterday, I feel I stressed the food more than I had wanted & didn’t spend enough time with him.

Well, we did make time for a little bodywork session because his shoulder was in need of some serious mobilization…& we started the day off with yoga.

But we’re going to make up for the actionlessness [what? it could be a word] of the rest of our day by going for a hike or climbing — doing something together.

So, I’ll tell you about our meal tomorrow.

For now, here’s a little remedy if you’re feeling the “gut shot” of all that gobbling.

Make a simple green smoothie chock full of nourishing foods to cleanse & re-energize.  Try a mix of 3 cups kale or spinach, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 small banana, 1 T chia seeds & 1 cup unsweetened almond milk.

& if you’re not pumpkined out yet — as if that’s possible — try this healthy snack.

Pumpkin Yogurt

Mix equal parts pumpkin puree & greek yogurt. [~¼ – ½ cup]

Stir in ½ – 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix or a blend of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & cloves.

Sweeten to your liking with maple syrup or other sweetener.

Top with homemade granola, leftover candied pecans or walnuts, or spread over cranberry-walnut toast [my favorite].

Simple, healthy, delicious.

All the things that the day after Thanksgiving calls for.


Are you fighting the Black Friday crowds & shopping the sales


taking part in No Buy Day?

‘Tis the Season to Give

24 Wed, 2010 § 7 Comments

Dave & I had planned a very special day date in Prescott yesterday.  One-third of it was spent away from each other though.

What made it so special then?  It was more of a date with our cameras than with each other.  We parted ways for about an hour, then met back up & shared our favorite shots with the other.

Why don’t I share some of those with you tomorrow? 😉

Dave wanted to explore the emotions of the town along the streets & creek.

I intended to hide from the cold antiquing in local shops.

I have a thing for thrift & secondhand stores; antiques are so fun, unique & “green”.

This got me thinking about PRESENTS — obviously the holidays are just around the corner — & I’m hoping to get some discussions going about gift giving.

This is sort of an area of stress for me right now because Dave & I are not bringing in money just yet; so I am hoping to spark excitement & ideas by talking about a few of my gift giving rules guidelines.

Dave & I have actually celebrated the last couple “Black Fridays” as Buy Nothing Day.  But just because we don’t want to get caught up in all the consumerism, we still enjoy giving & receiving gifts — meaningful gifts.

I read somewhere that many people don’t want it if they can’t eat it, wear it or read it.  This seems like a good place to start.

[Eat It]

You don’t have to consider yourself a foodie to appreciate delicious food or something to enhance your dining [or photo taking ;)] experiences…

like lovely cups & saucers…

aw…every food blogger’s weakness. 😉

or a random air-popper for the popcorn lover [how did I ever live without mine?].

If baking for others seems too overwhelming or stressful, you could simply share a favorite recipe along with a key ingredient or kitchen tool.  One day, I would love to make an entire recipe book.

[Wear It]

For the most part, my concern has transitioned from fashion to function when buying new clothes [usually for climbing, camping, etc].  When I just want something cute to wear though, I feel less guilty buying vintage.  Clothing can be tricky for me to buy for others though; accessories are easier to pick out or make, so I usually stick with those.  My mom has given me a couple beautiful scarves recently, & Dave rocks at dressing me [who knew he’d be one of my best shopping partners?].  Apparently my family is much better at fashion-for-others than I am.

[Read It/Listen to It]

I love passing along cherished books just as much as I love experiencing a friend’s favorite.  Not a book lover?  Most people enjoy flipping through a particular magazine & might consider it a luxury they wouldn’t necessarily treat themselves to.  Ever thought of giving a gift subscription of one of your favorites?  Music is another beautiful element of life that should be shared; I often wish I had someone to exchange piano sheet music with; for now, it’s fun to share what’s on my iPod.

[Make It]

Though it does make me nervous to give something I’ve made 😛 I really enjoy everything that goes into it.  The giftee is in your thoughts during the whole process.  I really love when someone makes something specifically for me,

like these adorable aprons my sister sewed for my birthday.

Though it may not come to you quickly, every one has something to offer in this aspect, & it’s AMAZING to see what people create.

[Experience It]

Rather than giving more “stuff”, offer experiences.  You can give anything from a golfing pass to a massage to an ATV tour to a cooking class to a trip.  Think about what this person loves to do or has always wanted to try.

[Consider It]

If you are going to buy something new, think about how it is made & the trace it leaves.  Supporting local can add just another touch to the meaningfulness of your gift.  There really are compassionate, respectful & honest companies out there, & more & more are springing up.  I suggest watching The Story of Stuff to remind ourselves to be discriminating with our choices as consumers.

I just realized I recently won something fun that could make a great “girlie” gift.  I’ll tell you more about it next week in a proper review of sorts.  For now, here’s a photo hint:

[Any guesses?]

Gift giving should be a balance between

Appreciating who that person is & recognizing his/her passions.


Sharing a part of yourself/your passions.

Obviously one passion I love sharing is food — wait, I think we already talked about food…oh well. 🙂

Stuffed Delicata Squash for one

  • Delicata Squash, halved & deseeded

Place one half of squash cut-side down in a baking dish with about an inch of water.

Bake at 400*F for 15 – 20 minutes until flesh is just tender.

Wrap other half of squash in plastic wrap & store in crisper to be used in next couple days — you’ll want to make this again! 😉

  • ½ C bread, torn into pieces
  • 2T orange juice
  • 2T almonds, chopped
  • 2T apricots, chopped
  • ½ Leek, sliced into half moons
  • ¼-inch slice fresh ginger, diced
  • dash of dried sage

While squash cooks, toss the rest of the ingredients together.

Once squash is ready, gently pack the delicata with the stuffing.

Lower oven temperature to 350*F.

Cook 20 – 30 minutes until bread is golden & squash is tender.

One of the beautiful things about tender delicata is how soft & edible the skin becomes…

so you can savor every bit of the squash.

Well…almost every bit of it.

This recipe is extremely versatile, so use whatever you have on hand.  Replace almonds with walnuts; use raisins instead of apricots; choose scallions over leek or rosemary rather than sage.

This makes a perfect, light entree for lunch or dinner.


What do you like to give?

What do you like to receive?

The Zone

23 Tue, 2010 § 1 Comment

Have you ever been In.the.Zone?

Your body & mind are working just hard enough that everything comes together without overloading.

Your focus narrows & time seems to slow.  Your mind & body connect, making micro-responses you may not even be conscious are happening.  Your heart is racing but not at the verge of bursting from your chest.

It is your instincts at their most efficient.

In the audio book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell refers to this as the “optimal range of arousal”: when your heart is beating 115 – 145 bpm.  He talks about it in the most extreme cases, such as a police officer responding during a gun battle with an assailant, to the less-than-lethal circumstances, like the mindset in which Larry Bird played basketball.

Dave & I have talked about this zone as prioritizing perceptions: tuning in to only the imminent.  Obviously, we relate to it most in terms of climbing.

I have this theory that in order to harness this “optimal range of arousal” & be able to “control” it — or at least not lose control — you have to visit the zone often & work on not going over it.  Like anything, you have to train in order to be prepared when you are faced with those situations.  You have to be willing to put yourself in a state where your heart races, your body is at its limit & your mind teeters between complete focus & utter disarray.

This is Solomon — one of the best climbs.  I am far from sending it clean, but it is a perfect project in the physical aspect.  It kicks my butt.  Next door is Golden Idol: a good “head” project for me.  Even though it’s easier, a couple of the clips are sketchy [definition: feels unsafe] for someone my height.  All I think is “if I fall before that clip…I’m going to hit that ledge…”  This sort of thinking doesn’t work.  I have not fallen at these spots on top-rope; but when I think of leading it, I’m so afraid I will.  I need to change the way I approach this climb.

After my mental disintegration on the warm-up climb last week, I’ve been trying to figure out how to overcome hitting “the wall”.  I think I need to put myself outside of my comfort zone more often & work through it.

I’m anxious to get back our there, get into the zone & work through my fears.


Higher intensity on the rock isn’t the only thing consuming my mind lately.

I have seriously been craving pancakes — buckwheat pancakes to be exact — then Natalie made pretty pumpkin-infused, whole-grain ones Saturday.  Oh yeah, we were definitely making pancakes Sunday.  These would be the perfect fuel before climbing.

Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes

The rain spoiled our plans for climbing, so these became our rainy day pancakes.  Pancakes make everything better…even a drizzly day.

These almost didn’t happen though.  Somehow the buckwheat flour I scooped from the bulk bin — or thought I scooped — didn’t make it into our grocery bags!  Yes, I panicked…but quickly realized I had buckwheat groats.  Phew.  I was already going to grind quinoa to make flour; why not grind buckwheat as well?

It wasn’t as fine as buckwheat flour you’d buy at the store — more of a meal — but I’d say it worked just fine.

Initially I wasn’t sure what I thought of these dense, grainy, not-so-pretty pancakes — my homemade flours probably lent to the texture — but adding a little pumpkin butter between layers sweetened them just enough.

You can find the recipe here.

Other than making my own flours, I used almond meal instead of corn flour.  I also didn’t have molasses on hand, so I just left it out.

I’d say one craving has been satisfied…now if it will just stop storming so we can climb…


What are your rainy day solutions?  We played “Ticket to Ride”, then Dave & Christine rocked out on RockBand.

Do you like to push it outside your comfort zone in terms of sports & recreational intensity?

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