Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chocolate Tart with Macaroon Crust

A vegan, gluten-free dessert even Ross loves. This tart is so rich that even I can only eat one serving (okay, two servings MAX) in one sitting. I got the recipe from The Fitnessista and altered is just slightly.

The full recipe will make 1 large tart or 2 dozen mini-tarts. I usually halve this to just make a dozen muffin-sized tarts.

Macaroon Crust:

1.5 cups almond meal (finely ground almonds) or almond flour
1.5 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 dates
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt

1. Put dates and almond meal in mixer and pulse until evenly mixed.

2. Add the maple syrup, melted coconut oil, vanilla, coconut, and sea salt. Pulse until combined. Add a little more coconut is mixture is too sticky.

3. Press the mixture into a large tart or pie pan (I put mine in lined muffin tins and it worked great... just be sure to let it thaw after the final step below before peeling the wrapper off) place in the oven at 250 for 20-30 minutes

Heavenly Filling:

2 1/2 cups soaked raw cashews (soak for at least 2 hours in the fridge and then drain)
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1. In a high speed mixture or food processor, add the cashews, maple syrup, honey, vanilla, sea salt and water. Blend well until smooth and creamy (you may have to scrape the sides several times).

2. THEN add the cocoa powder and blend until mixture is totally smooth.

3. Finally, add the coconut oil and blend until smooth.

4. Then fill your tart shell and place in the freezer to set for at least an hour. Remove the tart from the tart pan (you can run water on the bottom of the pan to help loosen it) and store in the fridge.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Warrior Dash!

My cousin Becky and I ran the Warrior Dash this morning. It's a 3.1 mile all-terrain loop with obstacles built in... and lots of mud.

She had a stress fracture scare a few weeks ago and I have a bum IT band, so we said we'd take it easy. BUT turns out she's supremely dedicated. I needed her cheering towards the end when I just wanted to walk! We actually ran between all the obstacles except at the end when the hills started getting super muddy and my knee started hurting pretty bad.

We thankfully ran in the first wave at 9am and it was uncharacteristically 'cool' for July: 80 degrees and cloudy!

Crazy. Also not quite awake yet.
The course was out in north KC amidst a bunch of trees. And hills.

Some of the obstacles:

-alternately climbing over some 4 foot walls and the under bars with barbed wire on them
-wading through several knee or waist deep creeks
-climbing up and back down some triangled 2x4s with nothing to help but notches for your feet
-walking across some beams with monkey bars to hold onto
-climbing up a rope ladder and sliding down a wall on the other side
-stepping through tires a-la training camp
-climbing up and down a huge stack of hay bales
-crawling across rope netting

These don't include the continuous rolling hills, which were rocky and grassy when we started, but wet and slippery for the last mile.

The final two (classic) obstacles were leaping over fire and then army-crawling through a mud pit under the barbed wire.

Love Becky's expression

So. close. to. finishing.

Trying to channel my inner track star.

 The mud pit was true to its name. You can't tell, but it was impossible to walk in (those who tried lost their shoes). And even when you crawled, you weren't moving much. You had to let your feet float and pull with your arms to get anywhere.

Submerging in water felt so good at this point.


Trying not to fall (again).
I fell twice in the mud right at the end (glad no one got that on camera). It was so slippery! But the mud felt good as the sun started to come out and we were happy to have survived. We even started passing people toward the end! So much for the 'walking and taking it easy' philosophy. My knee won't be thanking me tomorrow, but it was good for my spirit to run again. My other two 5k runs this season haven't happened (one was veto-ed by the doctor due to asthma and the other was when we went to New Mexico last-minute in May). It was great to actually get my money's worth! And to hang out with my cool cousin and aunt and uncle.


Cara, Sarah, and me. Yay friends from Neuro ICU!


 Afterwards, we celebrated with burnt ends and baked beans from Oklahoma Joe's.

And gluten-free lemon cake. Because I'm not that much of a warrior ;-)

Edited to Add: The results are up and I finished in 54 minutes and 59 seconds! I know this sounds SUPER slow, even for me. But when you factor in a very hilly, muddy course, obstacles, and waiting in line for obstacles, it's not too bad. In fact, this time earned me 2832nd place our of a total 6677 participants on Saturday and 217th out of 806 women between the ages of 25-29. Their times ranged from 35 minutes to 2+ hours! All in all, a fun race and I'm SO glad we ran at 9am before it got super hot and more muddy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Third Time's Not a Charm

This September's Omaha Marathon was the third time I've set a tangible goal for a specific marathon and embarked on a training plan. The first time, I quit training (oops) when I found out we were moving the same weekend as the 2009 Chicago Marathon, so that was out. The second time was this past February's Cowtown Marathon in Ft. Worth and I spent all fall and winter dealing with asthma exacerbations. I remained active, but certainly was in no condition to test and improve my endurance. And this time I've been foiled by my IT band.

My knee started hurting after my half marathon last month, but it did the same thing after my first 10k last year. I took a week off and iced for a few days, and they used heat and stretched with my foam roller. I did a trial run around the track later that week and it felt okay- pretty good, actually. So I kept stretching and planned to continue my marathon training with a long run in (blessedly flat) Amarillo, TX. Terrible. My 10 mile run turned into a 3 mile run with a 1 mile walk back to Ross' parent's house. So I took another week off and then tried to run with some coworkers before the 4th of July. Miserable. I felt like such a failure. Why wasn't my knee pain going away?! So I took an unprecedented three weeks off running and stuck to swimming and yoga. Yesterday I tried a very easy run and the sharp knee pain came back, and still hurts today (read: I ran a half marathon last month and yesterday I did the Couch to 5k Week 1 Workout 1 and it was painful).

Needless to say, the marathon is out. Again. This morning I finally went to my long-awaited orthopedic doctor's appointment. I waited 2 hours in the waiting room to spend less than 5 minutes with the doctor-- who told me I had IT band syndrome, which I had already guessed. Boo. I was hoping to spend a bit more time talking to him, but at least he prescribed physical therapy, which is what I wanted anyway.

Every time I start to train, I learn something new. This last time around, I was getting easily discouraged with my long runs due to location, weather, and running solo. I reached out to blog friends and co-workers in the last 2 months, but then got sidelined with me knee. It's so frustrating to me that NOW people are calling and texting me to see if I want to run with them, and I can't! I only hope they're still around this winter and spring when I'm ready to try again. Or else I'm going to have to bite the bullet and run with Team in Training. (Which is embarrassing because I collected money for a race in college thanks to my generous family and friends, but then could barely even train because I got shingles and a viral throat infection, so this time I'll find the cheapest race and donate all the money myself. But pre-planned routes and water stops sound amazing when I've been training alone all this time.)

I know you don't have to run a marathon to be a runner, and I firmly believe that. Yet a marathon has been a goal of mine since high school and I'm not quite ready to give up on it yet.

So that's my story. I start physical therapy next week and I probably won't tell y'all I'm training for a marathon again until I actually cross the finish line!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Oaties

Last summer I devoted a lot of time and blog space to vegetables. I had to find some way to use up the massive amounts of produce in the fridge! This summer, I'm still loving the farmer's market, but I'm all about the "unbaked" goods. I may have think about joining a CSA next year for my health's sake. But for now... cookies!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Oaties

3 Tbs. butter or coconut oil
2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oatmeal

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add in sugar and cocoa powder and bring to a low boil. Then stir in the peanut butter, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips and stir until mixture is smooth. Take off heat and add oatmeal, mixing well. Transfer to waxed paper in Tablespoon-sized scoops and cool in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Makes 12-18 cookies.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fairy Godmother

Heh. I couldn't think of a title for this post. However, I was completely honored to become a Godmother twice over on Sunday with the baptism of Miss Matilyn Rebecca!

The second reading during Mass was from Romans 8. Verse 26 states, "We do not know how to pray as we ought. But the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." This means a lot to me in my journey with God right now, but I had to laugh when Matilyn chose that moment to start moaning and groaning about wanting her bottle!

After Mass, we took some pictures and then headed to my cousin's house for BBQ.

Ross and me with my maternal grandparents. We didn't match on purpose...
Loved seeing family and snuggling with the sweet baby. Thanks, Matt and Heather, for letting us be a part of Matilyn's special day!

Nap time! I handed her over to Ross once she fell asleep.
When she woke up, she stared at him with such a confused look: "Who are you?!"
But she was okay with it. Kids love Ross!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Speaking of Beautiful Things...

... I wanted to share some of the beautiful things in my life this week (with exception of the babies at work... they are usually the MOST beautiful thing in any given week, but I can't very well post pictures of all of them on the world-wide web).

My garden is beautiful. It's small but lovely and the morning sun exposure has made a huge difference from last summer.

Serrano peppers
Roses are beautiful. Obviously, flowers make the apartment look and smell good. And the fact that my husband gave them to me makes them even prettier!

Hair feathers (not to be mistaken for "tail feather" as in, "shake ya"). I got a desperately needed haircut and while I was there I went out on a limb and got feathers clipped in! Maybe for once I'm on the upswing of a trend instead of late to the party? Either way, I love them. I've never gotten a tattoo, weird piercing, or crazy hair color. I figure feathers are a fun, transient trend and I'm still young enough to jump on-board!

Friends. I've been able to catch up with several friends via phone in the past week. (Sorry I'm so bad at keeping in touch! You all know who you are.) I'm also making friends in Kansas City! On Tuesday I went to happy hour with my women's small group and had a blast. On Friday I got to go to an impromptu, free concert with my friend Rachel on Friday night. Looking forward to going to Trader Joe's with some more new friends this week...

Ignore the shiny foreheads- we're outdoors in the Midwest summer, y'all!
Farmer's Market goodies. You know I'm obsessed with fresh, local produce. Friday's haul was apparently brought to you by the colors purple and green.

Sweet corn, onion, purple bell pepper, and heirloom eggplants.
Am I the only one who thinks heirloom eggplants are beautiful?
Yum Tum local rhubarb strawberry jam for my morning oatmeal!
What was the most beautiful part of YOUR week? Looking forward to anything this coming week?

Friday, July 15, 2011

You Make Beautiful Things

How often does a song really move you to tears? It doesn't happen to me often, but this song did. Listen to it now, not later!

Beautiful Things by Gungor

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Raw Cookie Dough and Brownie Bites

Summer is upon us, without a doubt. I hate turning on the oven when it's sweltering outside, but I still love homemade treats. Enter: raw desserts.

Lots of creative, talented bloggers have come up with cookie 'dough' recipes lately and, since my stash of Cookie Dough Larabars is dwindling, I thought I'd try my hand at a homemade version. I actually made {these} a few months ago, but they weren't very dough-like. So I 'researched' and combined the ideas I liked into this version.

Raw Cookie Dough Balls

2/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews (or a combo of cashews and almonds)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 dates (pitted and chopped)
1-2 Tbs. maple syrup
2 Tbs. peanut butter
1 Tbs. non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Add oats and nuts to food processor and blend until they reach a flour-like consistency. Then add dates, 1 Tbs. syrup, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. If your mixture is crumbly, drizzle in additional milk or syrup in until you obtain the desired consistency (keep in mind that more maple syrup = stickier dough). Remove from food processor. Stir in chocolate chips once the "dough" has cooled slightly (it may be warm from the processing friction). Wet hands slightly and roll dough into Tablespoon-sized balls. May store in the fridge for up to a week. Makes 10-12 dough balls.

AH. MAZING. This truly tastes like cookie dough and I can't stop eating it.

Brownie bites (from Elena's Pantry) are surprisingly good as well, and I think of them more as truffles than dough-like. But they have a shorter ingredient list which always makes things easier. The first time I made these, half the batch disappeared while I was at work! This is despite the fact that Ross felt betrayed when he found out the secret ingredient was dates! Who is this person eating healthy treats?!

Raw Brownie Truffles

1/2 cup pitted dates
1 cup walnuts
3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Place ingredients into food processor and pulse on high speed until smooth. Remove from processor and roll into 10-12 Tablespoon-sized balls. Eat and be pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bittersweet Symphony

After 3 months of commitment, tears, laughter, kisses, and hugs, I sent two sweet primary patients home this week. Work has officially lost all appeal except for the fact that it brings home a paycheck. I don't really want to face "my" babies' empty room on Monday, even though it's empty for a happy reason and I'm totally being selfish (I know, WAH).

I miss them and their sweet parents like crazy already. Even if I could post a picture, it wouldn't do them justice.

SO. I need a vacation in a bad way. I haven't been one one in TWO YEARS! Chicago was fun last fall, but I was in classes most of the time and only had one day of "vacation" there. So anyone want to travel the world with me? Or help pay for it?!

Florida Keys in 2009

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

(and happy birthday, Dad!)

Since I appear to have fallen off the face of the earth and playing catch-up would take a while, here are some snapshots from the last 4 days.