Monday, July 21, 2014

Banana Bread Smoothie

I love having smoothies for breakfast.  They save me time in the morning because I don't have to sit down to eat before I head out and keep me from wolfing down food in the car.  Instead, I take a smoothie in a to-go cup and finish it some time mid-morning at my desk.  But even on the weekends when I'm not rushing out I still like to enjoy a tasty smoothie while I read or lounge around.  With the added time, sometimes I'll even get more creative with my morning meal, like putting together this Banana Bread Smoothie that really tastes like dessert for breakfast!
Banana Bread Smoothie
1 ripe banana
1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co mighty maple)
Blend everything together and enjoy!

It's a Stretch

How annoying is it to look into a box of pasta and see this?  Especially if you've got a craving and nothing else seems like it will do.  Before you start doing the calculus on whether it's worth it to change out of your pajamas (or not even change) and head to a convenience store to overpay for boxed pasta, take another look around your cupboard and you may just find there's an easier way to stretch that pasta into a real meal - or from one serving into two, or three, or four. 

Whether it's that you're running low on pasta or that you want to add a bit more umph to your meal, try scrounging in your food stores for a simple can of white beans.  I always try to have cans of beans on hand to toss into meals for added protein and nutrients.  Stretch things even further by adding whatever veggies you've got on hand.  My favorites for red sauce: mushrooms, broccoli, and zucchini.  White sauce or pesto: peas, asparagus, spinach, and kale. 
The protein punch will also make you more satiated than you would with a simple meal of pasta and sauce.  And the best part?  Canned beans are easy to have on hand and basically never go bad.  They're the perfect food to stock up on.  Whether it's for your next Italian craving or to wait out the zombie apocalypse. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July Workouts So Far

It seems that somehow I managed to not do any workout recap last week.  So now I'm two weeks into July with no workouts logged ...  Well, not to worry.  I was still working out.  And in fact logging it.  Just never turning those logs into a post.  So here's two weeks of workouts jammed into one long post ...
Monday - 2 mile walk to library

Tuesday - off

Wednesday - 2 mile walk to library; 7 pull-ups with blue band

Thursday - off; 4 pull-ups with blue band

Friday - 4 mile jog/walk along Sligo Creek; 10 pull-ups with blue band

Saturday - 2 mile walk; 30 minutes on the elliptical at manual level 5; 3 sets of 10 with two 10-lb weights: bicep curls, shoulder press, bent rows; and 70 pull-ups with green band - I was a real winner that day

Sunday - 30 minutes on the exercise bike at manual level 7

Monday - 45 minutes on the exercise bike at manual level 6; 10 pull-ups with the blue band
Tuesday - 40 minutes on the exercise bike at manual level 6
Wednesday - 2 mi walk to library
Thursday - 40 minutes on the exercise bike at manual level 7 (Noticing a theme here?  The theme is that I wanted to finish that book, which was quite good.)

Friday - 30 minutes on the elliptical at manual level 6; 15 pull-ups with the blue band
Saturday - 5 mile hike at Sugarloaf Mountain.  Along the way I snacked on some homemade trail mix - sliced almonds, craisins, and chocolate chunks - yum!
Sunday  - 2 mile walk to library - I needed a new book!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cowboy Cookies (aka, the Best Cookies Ever)

My last post was very sad ...  And even though I'm still sad when I think about Jake, it's time to lighten up just a little.  And what better way to do that than with a post about the most delicious cookies ever?  That's right, ever.  Literally ever.  Even Josh thought so, and he really fancies himself a cookie connoisseur.
A long while back a friend at work made Cowboy Cookies for an office function, and I thought they were pretty good.  I wouldn't have said best cookie ever, but I liked that they included a bunch of other ingredients beyond your standard chocolate chip cookie.  Since I wanted to bring cookies along to our visit to Josh's parents a couple of weeks ago, I thought back to her cookies and went looking for a recipe online.  I'm not sure what recipe my friend followed, but that's good.  Because whatever hers was wasn't the best cookie ever.  But luckily this one is. 
Oats, nuts, coconut, chocolate ... there's a lot going on in these cookies. And it's all sooo good.  I made 1/3 of the recipe and ended up with 12 GIANT cookies ... so she wasn't kidding about giant cookies.  I also substituted walnuts for the pecans, sweetened coconut for the unsweetened and nixed the soaking in water and sugar (I'm pretty sure that will just get you to what I used, right?), and used chocolate chunks instead of chips.  That's right, go big or go home. 
Of course I had to test one almost straight out of the oven to make sure they were worthy of sharing.  And it was awfully hard to stop at one.  The last eleven cookies barely survived the weekend, and Josh and I were the only ones eating them - with a few little bites for Gus and Jake.  (None of the chocolate part - but even if we had, old dogs deserve whatever they want!) 
I've already been thinking about making another batch of these ...  I know they're not good for my body, but they certainly seem good for the spirit! 

The Loss of a Good Friend

I've held off writing this post for such a long time.  For some reason I couldn't bring myself to actually write about the last weekend of June, which Josh and I actually spent having lots of fun, but which culminated in a devastating loss for both of us. 
We were both off of work for a long weekend and we spent most of it up in Baltimore with Josh's family.  Most of the weekend was spent indulging in our favorite restaurants, including a trip to Cafe Spice for the best Indian food ever, dinner at Addis Ababa once we got back to Silver Spring, and Sunday brunch at Muse Cafe - where some anonymouse (and generous) person paid our bill!  The most hilarious part of the Muse Cafe gesture was that we'd been complaining (to each other) the whole time about how poorly run the place was that morning.  It is set up as a vegan brunch buffet, but the servers weren't replenishing the food quickly enough, so many items were out and every time something was replaced (with invariably an incredibly small quantity) people would lunge at the new item like vultures.  We felt sort of bad and wondered if maybe someone had heard us complaining and thought this would brighten our day.  Little did they know that we're just complainers and we were already in a perfectly good mood :) 
Though we were homebodies for most of the weekend, we went on a pretty exciting outing Saturday morning when we attended a vegan wine and cheese tasting and tour and Burleigh Manor Animal Sanctuary.  We had lots of fun touring around to meet the animals and then loading up our plates with delicious vegan cheeses.  Josh opted for the grape juice, rather than the wine (which was smart on his part ... Maryland isn't known for their wines, and for good reason!). 
Though we spent a lot of time out and about (mostly eating), we wanted to make sure we spent lots of time with the dogs that weekend.  We took them on a long car trip and a short walk.  Both 14 and in poor health, we knew this would be our last chance to spend a lot of time with them.  Unfortunately, we didn't know just how close to the end it really was.  Just a couple days after I took this picture, the cutey on the left, Jake, passed away. 

Since then we've all been incredibly upset.  Obviously Josh's parents are very broken up, but Josh and I have also been surprised at how difficult it has been for us.  And we aren't even used to having Jake around day-to-day.  We realize that Gus (on the right) also doesn't have much time left.  And even though you can remind yourself that 14 is a very full life for a pet, and that both Jake and Gus are about the most spoiled dogs you'll ever know, it doesn't seem to actually make it any easier.  I'm taking Jake's loss as hard as I would a lot of other good friends.  I will greatly miss having him in my life, but I'm so grateful to have known him. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth everyone!  Or should I say, Merry Independence Day!  I'm definitely planning on a patriotic viewing of the movie Independence Day later today, mostly just to watch the best presidential speech ever delivered.  Yay 'Merica!
But of course this day wouldn't be complete without a little red, white, and blue to celebrate too.  And what's the most delicious patriotic treat out there?  That's right ... Craisin and white chocolate scones sitting in front of a blue background ... erm ...  Well, two out of three isn't bad.  And that just means these would make a great Canada Day treat too :) 
I adapted these delicious vegan scones from a scone recipe I'd been using for years.  But needless to say they require quite a few vegan replacements.  Fortunately, the end product tastes just as great and seems to have just the same consistency as the original.  Science wins again. 
Craisin and White Chocolate Scones (Vegan!)
(makes 12 scones)

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar + 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 tablespoons vegan butter, cold
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
1 vegan egg
Preheat oven to 400. 
Combine first five ingredients, then cube butter and mix into dry ingredients by hand until you achieve a coarse meal texture. 
Stir in craisins and chocolate chips.
Whisk together egg and sour cream in a separate bowl, then mix into dry/butter mixture until the dough comes together.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and divide into two balls. 
Press each ball into a disk about 3/4 inch thick. 
Sprinkle each disk with the 1 tbsp sugar. 
Using a sharp knife (to cut through those chocolate chips and craisins), cut each disk into six triangles. 
Transfer the triangles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, at least an inch apart (they won't expand much). 
Bake 15 minutes, until golden. 

Quick Workout Recap

I'm afraid last week's workouts left a little something to be desired (and, full disclosure, this week's recap will look quite similar).  I haven't been feeling the workouts lately, so I've been taking a lot of days off (or basically off - see Wednesday).  Maybe it's the incredibly hot and humid weather, or maybe it's my own laziness.  Probably some combination of both.  Still, I had a few tough workouts last week, which isn't too shabby.  Certainly better than some people.  But still not up to my usual standards.  I'll just have to work harder to get my groove back soon ...

Monday - 2 mile walk to the library, 20 minutes on the exercise bike at manual 6, plus 3 sets of 10 with 2 10-lbs: bicep curls, shoulder press, bent over row; 2 sets of 10 with 50 lbs: dead lifts

Tuesday - 30 minute interval workout on the treadmill

Wednesday - 10 pull-ups with the blue band

Thursday - off

Friday - off

Saturday - 50 minute hike in Rock Creek Park

Sunday - 3 mile run along Sligo Creek