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

or

taking part in No Buy Day?

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?

Shaping Intentions & Reshaping French Toast

16 Tue, 2010 § 7 Comments

Like Water

This was my first thought before getting out of bed yesterday.

Dave shared an article with me on Sunday from Elephant Journal about the Dalai Lama & the first thing he thought when he awoke in the morning.

His simple response, “shaping motivation”, immediately resonated.  It is first about establishing our own internal intentions & focusing them in a positive direction; yet it also conveys external actions & how we communicate ourselves & our intent to others.  Even if it is not the specific phrasing I chose for myself, shaping my intention with a positive thought before my day began had such a happy effect on my mood & behaviors most of the day.  [I’ll explain tomorrow.]

I am sure we have all had this idea of starting our day with a positive thought.  How we start our day often determines how the rest of it will go.  “Today will be a good day,” & so it is.  “I am beautiful”, & that day I truly am & it shines through.  Lately, I have been thinking a lot about stating my intent before I even get out of bed, but I kept forgetting each morning to actually have the thought.  😛  Maybe it’s because I hadn’t really determined my intent yet.  After talking with Dave about the Dalai Lama’s response, I wasn’t going to forget again.  Sunday night, before I fell asleep, I promised I would remember.

The next morning, “like water” came to mind.

So what on earth does it mean?

“When a stream comes to some stones in its path, it doesn’t struggle to remove them or fight against them or think about them.   It just goes around them.  As it does, it sings.”

~Tao of Pooh

See things for what they are.  Don’t try to change them or bang your head against them or over analyze them.  Accept situations for what they are; appreciate, learn from & work with whatever happens in everyday life.

While you do it — sing — be happy.

“There are no problems, only situations.”

~Avi in Revolver

Now why not share how you can start your beautiful day tomorrow with a beautiful breakfast, & I’ll tell you about the rest of my day in the morning?

Baked Pumpkin French [Cranberry-Walnut] Toast

variation of Ashley’s Vegan Baked Pumpkin French Toast

[for 1]

  • 1 – 1½ C cubed, day old, cranberry-walnut artisan bread [or any bread you’d like, but I definitely recommend a nice, thick artisan/bakery type]

[If you forget to leave your bread out the night before like I did, simply toast it that morning before tearing it, & it will work perfectly]

  • 1 flax “egg” [1T ground flax meal + 3T warm water, whisk + let sit for 10min]
  • 1 ½ T pumpkin puree
  • scant 1 T rice milk
  • ½ T sucanat [I will sub maple next time, which will be awesome with this bread & the pumpkin]
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • pinch of allspice, nutmeg, cloves, salt

Preheat oven to 350*F

After flax “egg” is ready, whisk in all ingredients except bread, in a large bowl.

Add bread cubes & stir to coat with the batter.

Spray small oven-safe bowl or ramekin with cooking spray.  Also spray 1 side of foil that will cover the bowl.

Pour bread cubes into bowl, letting excess batter drip off.

Cover with greased foil & bake for 25min, watching closely.
Uncover & bake an additional 5min.

Top with bananas &  almond butter [optional].

Broil for 1 – 3min, watching closely so it does not burn.

Scoop out & serve or eat straight from a cute little ramekin like I did!

~

Inside is doughy & pumpkiny — outside is crisp & sweet.  Perfect!

It also pairs perfectly with my special Pomegranate Cider.

~

Ok people…I really want to know…what is your favorite breakfast other than oats? 😉

Do you ever start your day off with a specific positive thought?

A First

6 Sat, 2010 § Leave a comment

How about a warm, sweet cinnamon roll to start your day?

Can you believe I waited until my 26th year to make cinnamon rolls for the first time?

Shame on me!

I don’t know why I let “bread”making intimidate me, because I have sure been missing out.

Saturday morning I just had to have cinnamon rolls before we went climbing.  I didn’t get my hands on my mom’s recipe in time; so I decided to go with Mama Pea’s Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

Don’t let the “healthy” ingredient list & slightly crunchy crust fool you — which is really nice — these bake perfectly soft & doughy in the center 🙂

& are delicious.

Don’t just take my word though — make your own & enjoy the entire baking experience.

I was so happy & proud as I kneaded, watched my cinnamon rolls rise…

…bake…

& savored every last bite.

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

[Mama Pea’s original recipe with my minor variations]

[Makes 6 rolls]

Dough

  • 1 cup almond milk, warmed
  • 1 packet yeast
  • ¼ C pumpkin puree
  • 2 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ C organic unbleached all purpose flour bread flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • ¼ C organic sugar sucanat
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp salt

Cinnful Filling

  • ½ C brown sugar sucanat
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 T Earth Balance, softened
  • 2 T raisins (if desired)

Icing

[Dave & I are not huge fans of frosting — often too sweet — so I didn’t make the icing; Dave enjoyed his with a little earth balance butter…& just as I was about to take my last bite, I remembered we had Kim’s vegan cream cheese frosting leftover from my birthday cupcakes].

  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 3 T almond milk
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Dissolve yeast in warm almond milk.  Set aside.  Combine flour, spices, baking powder & salt.  In a separate bowl, combine filling ingredients & set aside.

After yeast & almond milk become foamy [~ 5 – 8 minutes or so], stir in pumpkin.  Add wet ingredients to dry & stir until a dough forms.  Turn dough out onto floured bread board & knead for a minute or so [~ 20 times].   Knead in as much extra flour [I only needed a couple tablespoonfuls] as necessary so that dough is no longer sticky.

Roll dough into a large rectangle.  Sprinkle filling over dough & roll dough up firmly to make a log.  Cut the log into six equal pieces & place in a loaf [or pie 🙂 ] pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Either cover rolls & place in the refrigerator overnight, or if planning to bake immediately, let dough rise in a warm place for at least 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Bake rolls for 23 minutes [watch closely because mine needed to bake for only 18 minutes or so].  Drizzle with icing if desired.

Smile at your baking success, sigh & enjoy. 🙂

Undressed

22 Fri, 2010 § 22 Comments

Food Photography is my sweet spot; it’s not what gets Dave off.  He is a different breed of photographer, gifted at capturing moments when people let their guards down — when they are raw & exposed.

If I wanted his photographic skills in the kitchen, I might need to use other means to lure him in…

how about

A.Three.Way

& a bit of undressing.

Growing up, the crepes we begged my mom to make often were deemed danish pancakes with batter so laden in butter they were tinted yellow.

oh.yes

we savored inhaled these.

Could I make a healthier version without all of the eggs & butter?

Could I “undress” the traditional crepe, break down the components & recreate a vegan variation?

There are several vegan versions out there, but I wanted a bit more autumn flair.  Pumpkin puree enhances my favorite pizza dough; could one of these beauties moisten my crepes?

Rachel had persuaded me to bare [nearly]all — wearing only an apron — while cooking.

With my inhibitions already lowered, there was no sense in holding back on a recipe that might surely fail.

I slipped on my apron [& house slippers] while Dave grabbed the space heater in an attempt to ward off the obvious October chill that filled the kitchen.  I also thought it a good idea to throw a little warming ginger into the mix.

Pumpkin Crepes

makes 8-10

6-inch crepes

  • ¾ C Spelt [all-purpose flour will yield lighter crepes; I just don’t digest it as well, so I usually stick to spelt]
  • ¼ C Chickpea Flour
  • dash Salt
  • 1 T Arrowroot
  • 1-2 tsp powdered Ginger

Combine.

  • 1 C Almond Milk
  • ¼ C Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 T Maple Syrup

Whisk into dry ingredients until smooth.

Chill in the refrigerator at least one hour.

Most suggest heating the pan over med-high heat, but I found using a lower heat allowed me to spread the batter more evenly before it started cooking to the pan.

The pan is ready when a few flicked drops of water sizzle upon contact.

Spray the pan with cooking spray or rub the end of an EB stick across the pan [my preferred method].

Pour batter into the center [maybe 1/3 C?? I just eye it — you’ll figure it out after a couple! ;)] & holding the pan firmly by the handle, use your wrist to tilt the pan in a circular motion, spreading the batter in a thin layer across the bottom.

Cook until the top of the crepe is dry, the center bubbly & the edges appear firm & lightly browned when lifted with a spatula, ~1 – 2 minutes.

Gently run the spatula under the crepe to loosen it, then flip to the other side ~30 seconds – 1 minute.

Slide it onto a plate, loosely cover with foil & place in the oven on warm.

Continue cooking until you have a nice stack of crepes to “dress”.  [These also keep well wrapped in plastic in the fridge for later consumption ;)]

~

Though I used only a small portion of chickpea flour, it was quite distinct.  I love it in my favorite pie crust, but I will probably leave it out of future crepes.  Do not expect to taste a lot of pumpkin either — you are not meant to — that is one of the great things about pumpkin-infused dough: it offers moisture without leaving more than a trace of its flavor.  If you want that “pumpkin” kick, try adding pumpkin spice to the mix.

These were not as delicate as traditional crepes, but tasty none-the-less, & we just couldn’t leave them naked.

do you like it slow & sultry?

prefer a sweet tease?

perhaps pure temptation?

Even if you simply stick with your favorite tried & true crepe recipe, you must treat yourself to one [or all] of these enticements.

~

sexy.lady

I know just what to do with you. 😉

Rum-Kissed Caramelized Pear

adapted from here

  • Pear
  • slice of lemon

Peel, core & half the pear.

Rub the entire surface with the lemon slice.

  • ½ T Earth Balance Butter

Melt in a pot over med-low heat.

  • 1 T Brown Rice Syrup
  • 1/8 tsp All Spice

Add & stir.

  • 2 T Apple Juice

Stir in.

Place pear halves in the pot, flat-side down.

Lower heat & simmer 15 minutes.

Flip pears round-side down for 10 minutes longer.

Remove pears & slice.

  • ½ T Dark Rum

Stir into pot & simmer 1 minute.

Remove from heat & return pear slices, carefully coating with syrup.

Dress crepe with ~3 pear slices & drizzle with syrup.

Garnish with toasted walnuts.

AMAZING

Not overly sweet, the all spice jazzes up the pear simply.  The rum is subtle — & while you could make it without — I am going to deem it crucial.  I just may finish this sauce off over ice cream.

yes.

I definitely need to get my hands on some coconut ice cream.

~

Maple-Infused Red Bean Paste

Cook ½ Cup Adzuki beans.

Drain.

Mash or process.

[to create a smoother paste, press cooked beans through a mesh strainer, leaving the skins behind]

Heat the mashed beans in a pot over med-low heat with ¼ C Maple Syrup, stirring often, until thick & glossy.

Slather over crepe & sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

You know how black stilettos are usually sexier than white heels?  That’s how I feel about these sesame seeds.  Alas, I only had light ones.

This protein-packed crepe is delectable & so much sweeter than everyone expects.

This was my first time with red bean paste [a star in many Asian desserts], & I just may be infatuated.  I am not ashamed to say I ate it straight from the pot with a spoon.  Add a splash of rice milk…mmm…I might be unavailable for the rest of the afternoon.  😉

~

Spinach & Chevre Temptation

Nothing too fancy here, but the quality of the ingredients is what makes this oh.so.tempting.  A nice goat cheese, like Four Pepper Montchevre, makes an ideal center fold.  We simply sauteed baby spinach in EVOO until just wilted to complement the sexy chevre.

Bon Appetite

~

Ever cooked “naked”? 😉

Off to See the Wizard

16 Sat, 2010 § 4 Comments

I don’t know how we managed

but with a bit of magic & some finagling

we packed our house into

one

two

three

vehicles

& a trailer

I would say that is not too shabby — forget magic — this was all thanks to the maneuvering & muscles of Dave, dad[IL], best friend Dylan & our wonderful neighbor Sonny.  Great job & THANK YOU.

~

As we leave Utah this morning, I leave you with one of my favorite autumn cookies.  I am pretty proud of this recipe — not to mention the thumbs up from the guy who doesn’t care for oatmeal cookies or pumpkin.

[Happy Moving Day]Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies

~16 cookies

  • 1 C Spelt Flour
  • 2/3 C Oats
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Nutmeg

Combine.

  • 1/3 C Brown Rice Syrup
  • 1/3 C Maple Syrup
  • 1/3 C Grapeseed Oil
  • ½ C Pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • ½ T ground Flaxseeds

Combine in a separate bowl.

 

Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to over mix.

Fold in ¼ C dark vegan chocolate & ¼ C raisins, optional.

Chill batter in the fridge for ~10 minutes.

Drop by the tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet.

Flatten.

Bake 16 minutes.

Cool on parchment paper on a wire cooling rack.

~

We’ll see you when we get to AZ !

Team Summer or Team Fall?

8 Wed, 2010 § 2 Comments

I am all about sunshine & bright blue skies.  Because I freeze E.A.S.I.L.Y, 80-90 degree days suit me just fine for the most part.  Flip flops, tank tops, sun-kissed hair & golden skin.  Who doesn’t love Summer?

Suddenly, a longing is creeping over me; I find myself craving winter squash, home-made bread & long walks in the cool air, haloed by red & golden leaves.  Cozy sweaters, pretty scarves & fun hats.  I cannot help but love Fall…

…until I step out the door for Eisley’s morning walk & a freezing chill attacks my body; then I long for Summer to stay just a little longer.

Honestly, I truly love these transitional moments in Mother Earth’s cycle.  Many of her bounty is at its peak now, but an approaching quietness can also be sensed.  My own body & mind still feel the go-go-go of Summer but have begun a battle of “laziness” as well.  Even my appetite is torn between Autumn heartiness & the light fair of Summer.

So I caved…more than once in the past couple weeks…& have been enjoying pumpkin in everything from VOO Parfaits to Green Monsters to banana-scramble sandwiches [eyebrow raise].

Eisley loves both banana & pumpkin.  I love both banana & pumpkin.  Why can we not love them together?

Pumpkin is actually really good for dog’s digestion.

It is not half bad for people either 😉  Rich in antioxidants & beta-carotene, pumpkin is an extremely nutrient-dense food.  It is low in fat & calories; high in potassium & contains amounts of niacin, vitamin E, calcium & iron worthy of mentioning.  Don’t forget the seeds!  Also known as pepitas, they are high in essential amino acids & zinc, as well as iron, protein & fiber.  Not bad at all so eat up!

I loved my banana-pumpkin combo in a slightly different way than Eisley ;).

With a fork, mash together about [I do not often measure]:

3 T Thick-Rolled Oats

2 T Rice or Almond Milk

half a Banana

1 T Pumpkin puree

½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp ginger

a dash of maple would also be good

You want it to be thick so it holds together for the most part.

  1. Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add mixture to the pan & flatten slightly.
  3. Cook until slightly browned ~3-5 minutes
  4. Flip & brown other side.  [Do not stress if it falls apart; just “scramble” & enjoy]
  5. Plop onto your favorite toasted bread

[mine: WF’s in-house Seeduction loaf, lightly broiled]

My Banana-kin Scramble Sandwich stayed safe & warm in its tinfoil home during the bike commute to work,

where it was gobbled up between clients.  Mmm.

~

Whose team are you on?  Team Fall or Team Summer?

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