A Post-Grad's Attempt at a Healthy, Joyful, and Blissfully Sweet Life

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

welcome friends!

before i get into my post, i just want to say a huge thank you to all of you who have been so supportive and encouraging about my posts.  it means so much to me that you are reading and enjoying what i have to say, and keep giving me such wonderful feedback.  if i could, i would deliver freshly baked cupcakes to each and every one of your doors!

sadly, i cannot do that.  however, i can provide you with a delisious recipe for you to make in your own home and pretend they are from me!

from me to you: banana chocolate chip muffins!

don't have time to bake? not a problem!  i made one batch of these, then realized i wanted more so whipped up another batch right after in 10 minutes.  trust me-you can find 10 minutes for these muffins!

i made these for luke to celebrate an anniversary of ours, and i just might make them again with some bananas that browned too quickly on me.  they are probably my favorite banana-bread type recipe i've ever made.

these muffins are so good, people!

i adapted the recipe from one of my favorite blogs to get recipes from, my little celebration.  every meal i've  made of hers has come out divine, and it's all reasonably healthy. can't go wrong there!

and so, without further ado...

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
makes 16 muffins | adapted from my little celebration

3 ripe medium bananas
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup bob's red mill gluten free all purpose baking flour*
1/2 cup bob's red mill almond flour*
1/4 cup bob's red mill brown rice flour*
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tablespoon flax seed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 chopped walnuts, optional

*i used these flours to make it gluten free, but you can substitute for regular all purpose flour and or whole wheat flour if you want

~preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a muffin pan with cooking spray. 
~mash bananas with a fork. 
~add the milk, butter, egg, and vanilla and stir, continuing to mash the bananas 
~in a large separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, flax seed, cinnamon, and sugar; whisk together. ~add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. 
~add chocolate chips and if using, walnuts
~scoop batter into regular sized muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes; they’re done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

the finished product!
these muffins will make your home smell amazing aromatic thanks to the cinnamon.  plus, the chocolate chips become melty perfection when the muffins are pulled out from the oven.  

and they have bananas in them, so they are technically healthy, right?

personally, i feel that with all the flax, fruit, and cinnamon these muffins are clearly bursting with, every person should be required to eat these as part of a healthy life style.

but that's just me.

now go turn on your favorite pandora station, don an apron, assemble the troops, and BAKE!

wishing you all wonderful days and lots of chocolate chips,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sweat is Sexy

Morning, friends!

i hope your weekends were fun and and restful!  Mine certainly was one for the books-
luke and i ran a half marathon!

i love running (most days...) and have been a pretty constistant runner for a few years now.  i definitely love endurance running more than speed running, and to run a half marathon has been on my bucket list for a while.  something about running 13.1 miles always seemed so enticing to me...

if there's one good trait i have, i have to say it's determination.  when i really want something, i do it, no matter what logic/other people/circumstances have to say about it.  for instance, when i was in middle school i was obsessed with london.  my parents, after relentless begging on my part, said that if i saved up $1,000, i could go to london the next time my aunty cindy, who is always traveling, went.

the summer before 9th grade, i was on my way to london.

so, i knew that if i set my mind to it, i could run a half marathon.  i figured the year i graduated college would be a momentous time to do so, so this past febuary i started training for a race in may.  however, a wedding came up the same weekend as the race so i had to find another one to do-i was not going to let all that running i had done go to waste!  i ended up signing up for the rock n roll half marathon in providence, rhode island for august 19th, and planned to get back on the training schedule!

except, i didn't...

i don't know what happened, but i suddenly fell out of love with running.  it seemed the impending race was making me so nervous that running was no longer fun, and instead intimidating and daunting.  thankfully i found a wonderful runner partner in my friend michelle, so running long miles with her made the whole experience much more bearable.

luke was very encouraging throughout this whole thing, and kept telling me i would get excited to run once i got the event and the adrenline kicked in.  he's a runner also, and even offered to run the race with me a week before the event.

who just decides to run 13.1 miles out of the blue?!?!? this kid is in seriously good shape though, so he was able to pick up and run what i had been training for the better part of a year for.  show off...

luke and i traveled down to my parent's house for the race since providence isn't far from it.  the night before the race we went to Fire and Ice to carbo-load. you know, to make sure we had enough energy to finish the race...(or just for an excuse to eat pasta dish upon pasta dish upon pasta dish...)

it's free refills there, and i've never eaten so much in one sitting in my life! i'm usually the girl who orders a meal and eats only half and takes the other half home for lunch the next day.

NOT TONIGHT! in the name of carbs, i ate....

the first dish was pasta with broccoli, zucchini, peppers, and blackened chicken. YUM! 
the second dish was pasta with green beans, sweet potato, and salmon. 
and the third dish (yes, i had THREE plates of food that night) was fajitas with more veggies, rice, and fish.
luke also had three plates of food and then we rolled our stuffed bodies to the car to get home and sleep-we needed to get up at FIVE IN THE MORNING in order to get to the race on time.  get up at 5am to run 13 miles?  yes, the thought that we were slightly crazy definitely passed through my mind once or twice...

when we got to the race, i began to get really excited.  luke was right-the adrenaline was definitely pumping me up! we pinned our bibs to our shirts and joined everyone in the corrals-we were in corral 5.  luke said he bet we could finish in under 2 hours, of which i was skeptical.  i had slightly slacked on my running towards the end of my training and never actually made it past 9 miles (oops...) however, he said that he'd buy me ice cream later if we did it, so then i was a little more interested. 
does being bribed with ice cream make me a fat kid?  who cares-ice cream is my motivation, fat kid at heart or not!
there we both are, ready to race!  me suuuuuuuuper tired and luke wearing his 3D glasses he wore the entire race.  i have no clue why he wanted to do that, but it got him a lot of attention as he ran!

we started off the race pretty slow.  my plan was to start off at a slow jog, to get our legs warmed up and to not expel more energy than necessary-we were going to need lots of it as the race stretched on! luke and i just chatted as we ran for the first few miles which was really fun.  i cannot stress enough how much i appreciated him running with me!! 

around mile 6 we picked up the pace.  i don't know about anyone else, but miles 6 and 7 are always my golden miles.  it's like i suddenly unlock a chest full of energy and i feel so strong and able!  we kicked it into high gear and ran the next few miles at a faster time.  luke estimated we did those at low 8s, with the beginning miles around 9 mpm.  

the cool thing about the rock and roll 1/2 marathon is that they had bands set up every few miles playing live music.  it was really fun to run by the music and see the performers, though to be honest we ran by them so quickly that the mini concerts weren't as exciting as i thought they'd be.  

we slowed down to around 8:30 mpm around miles 9 and 10.  i began to get SUPER hungry, and the only calorie intake i was getting was the gatorade being passed out.  at mile 9 they also started handing out an energy gell to eat which was packed with much needed carbs and sugar, but it was kind of gross to be honest, and it made me super thirsty. 

the weather, however, was BEAUTIFUL!  we started at 7am, and it was pretty cool out with just a slight breeze.  running in the wicked heat of june and july had made me nervous about running in august, but since the race was so early in the morning we beat the heat.  we actually finished just as it was getting to be hot!  the course was great as well-only one major hill which i impressed luke with by darting in and out of everyone and passing a ton of people while going up it.

i felt pretty darn cool when i got to mile 10-this was now the longest i had ever run!  not exactly something to brag about when running a half marathon (technically i should have done a better job training and ran 10 miles prior to the race...) but it was exciting all the same!

miles 11 and 12 were hard, i'll be honest.  i had been nervous that i would waste all of my energy on the other miles and not have enough to finish strong, and thankfully i never reached a point where i felt like my legs were going to fall off or i was going to die, but mile 11 definitely dragged on.  and mile 12 dragged on worse, considering luke and i both somehow missed the 12 mile marker and were convinced we were running the longest 11th mile ever.

around this time i prayed out loud.  do any of you do this?  i started doing it last year, and it really helps. i thank God for all the things that enable me to run, everything from strong legs, working and able muscles, healthy bones, blood cells, powerful lungs, good overall health, to determination, endurance, perseverance, motivation, and a conviction to stay healthy and take care of my body, to the true race we are all running in this world and our true finishing line, and finally, about Jesus, who never gave up on his race and is now our inspiring coach and mentor.  i also quote Isaiah 40:31:

 " those who hope in the Lord

    will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
    they will run and not grow weary,

    they will walk and not be faint."

and Hebrews 12:1-2

"let us run with perseverance the 
race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on 
Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

 it really helps when you feel just competely spent and like you can't run another foot.  once you start thinking about all the things i mentioned above, you realize how capable you are and suddenly you are filled with so much energy and passion!  Thanks, God :)

and then it came-the mile 13 marker.  I was taken aback because like i said before, luke and i still thought we were on  mile 11, so seeing this sign was a HUGE rush of excitement and relief-
i was .1 miles away from completing my first half marathon!!! 
i shouted a "YES!" and sprinted off, running faster than i had at any point in the race.  with a huge smile plastered across my face, i shot past those in front of me and cross the finish line.  

I had done it.

me with my new favorite piece of bling!
luke finished right after me, and congratulated me on an awesome race.  i had finished at 1:54, 6 minutes below 2 hours-you know what that meant! ICE CREAM! we'll get to that later though...luke said he was really impressed with my running, and that i even began to push him towards the end.  he said he underestimated how fast/strong i could run! ha!

I cannot stress enough how much I loved running with luke.  the fact alone that he decided to run it with me a week before with no serious prior training (minus years of cross country, ultimate frisbee, and P90X that is) was impressive enough. but he also helped me along mentally and i seriously doubt the race would have been  fun at all without him.  running and talking with him the whole time took the focus off of my legs and lungs and  i was able to just enjoy this huge marker in my life.  THANKS, LUKE!!!

unsure if he will ever get up again....

this is how i felt after the race-exhausted! bring on the chocolate milk recovery drink!!
we met up with my parents, who thankfully made it to the race in time to see my bolt to the finish line.  they kept saying how proud they were of me, and they really seemed impressed and happy with me-which made me feel even better about my accomplishment!

me with the parents
another part of the race i really enjoyed was all the funny shirts of other runners and signs along the road.  i loved the crowds cheering us on the whole time-it definitely helped boost morale!  some of my favorite sayings we saw were:

"run like you stole something"

"we, like bras, support you"

"sweat is sexy"

"running takes balls, other sports just play with them."

"do it for the beer"

and of course,

"our sport is your sport's punishment."

love it!!

exhausted and completely ravenous, we went back home, washed up, then went out to lunch.  food had  never tasted so good!  then we made the trek back up to my apartment, where luke, true to his word, took me out for ice cream.

a well deserved treat!
it was soooooo gooooood and HUGE! it kept me full until the next morning haha!

i got a two scoop sundae of coffee moose tracks and purple cow.  holy YUM!!!

those sundaes didn't stand a chance!

then we took some more pictures with our new medal of honor! i sort of want to wear it everywhere i go-is that weird?

what's on YOUR bucket list?

set your mind to it, and DO IT!!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Mental Breakdown Brunch

Hey there friends,

sadly there are no desserts to tantalize your eyes with in this post.

instead, this post is about how while a successful baking day can be so enjoyable and happy, an unsuccessful one can be not only unfortunate but, if you are as tired as me, even breakdown-inducing.

please tell me i am not the only one who's seen her life fall apart in front of her eyes as she watches her pancakes burn in the frying pan.

i swear, i was this close to completely breaking down in tears when i realized how terribly wrong my pancakes were coming out.  burning on the outside, gooey and falling apart on the inside...the heart ache it caused me was definitely worse than it should have been.  but i am exhausted and just wanted some warm, comforting pancakes to make my day a little better.  is that so much to ask?! my roommate, who watched the whole thing come together and then explode, offered the advice that my pan was probably just too hot.  and she was probably right.  but i never fail when it comes to pancakes! i have been making pancakes for years and know all the little secrets to making fluffy, moist, delicious little cakes. no. this was not my fault. it was the new, weird recipe i used and darn it that's the story i'm sticking with!

in my beyond tired state, i simply couldn't handle my lunch going to the trash instead of my mouth.  i get cranky when i'm tired and hungry.  all i wanted was a pancake!

oh the pain. oh the sorrow.
(oh the drama)

sadly, this is not the first time i have slightly overreacted in the name of food. once i cried on the phone to my friend Robyn that my roommate at the time didn't enjoy watching cupcake wars with me.  i believe i literally lamented over the fact that she didn't "appreciate the beautiful creation of a cupcake."

someone pass the tissues.

i think it's times like these when i need to go to therapy. and by "therapy", clearly i mean "chocolate."

Praise God.

here's hoping your sunday is a little more successful and a little less dramatic than mine!