Monthly Archives: February 2011

“Fudge” and other curse words

During orientations freshman year of college, we often played “Never Have I Ever.” In this game, the basic premise was to say something you’ve never done but that other people probably have done. Then, if someone says something you have done, you lose one point… The game continues until some one loses 10 total points.

The competitive side of me really liked this game, because I always knew I had an ace in the hole: “Never have I ever said a swear word.”

The first reaction was always shock, then disbelief and then awe. Basically, “What? No way? That’s crazy!”

I don’t think many people believed me, but it really is true. At a young age, I made a deliberate choice never to swear and I’ve managed to stick by it. However, because I do still have emotions, I have developed a few alternative swear words.

For example, my b-word is “brat.” My s-word is “shoot.” My d-word is “darn.” And my f-word is “fudge.”

These alternative swear words sure came in useful today…

Like, when it started down-pouring while Dan and I were on the highway, I said, “Oh, shoot!”

Or, when I came home to see my yard had turned into a mini-lake, I said, “Gosh darn!”

And, when I made a new batch of treats, I could help but exclaim, “FUDGE!”

But, in this case, that was actually a very, very good thing.

Fudge-Coated Almond Bars

Ingredients:

— Crust —

  • 1/2 C almonds
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/3 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 T buttery spread
  • 3 T unsweetened applesauce

— Fudge Topping —

  • 2 T buttery spread
  • 5 T water
  • 1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/2 t almond extract
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  • For the crust, grind the almonds with 3 T sugar. I used a small food processor, but you could also use a blender. 
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ground almond mixture with the whole-wheat and all-purpose flour. Then, rub in the butter and applesauce, until everything comes together in a ball.
  • Evenly press the almond dough into a greased 8×8 inch cake pan. Using a fork, poke a few holes in the crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.
  • 10 minutes before the crust is done baking, begin to make the topping. To do this, melt the butter and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly.
  • When the butter is melted, stir in the cocoa and 1/3 C sugar. Make sure everything is combined and remove the mixture from heat. Then, stir in the almond and vanilla extract.
  • Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for five minutes. Then, whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture over the almond crust and bake for an additional 18-22 minutes, until the chocolate topping is set.
  • Allow the bars to cool thoroughly. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into 2×2 inch squares. Store bars in the refrigerator.

Note: I attempted to make this recipe with flax eggs, but the chocolate topping just didn’t set well.


Now, excuse me if I am a total “brat” and hoard these all to myself…

Fill in the blank: “Never have I ever ______________.”

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So long, friend

My plans for the day were simple: Run five miles and check a few things off the to-do list. On those fronts, I was totally a success! I love those achievable-checklist kind of days!

First thing in the morning, I fueled with a fun twist on a breakfast standard.

PB & Banana Quesadilla

Ingredients:

  • One whole-wheat tortilla
  • ~1 T peanut butter
  • One banana, thinly sliced
  • Cinnamon

Directions:

  • Heat a grill pan to medium-high.
  • Spread peanut butter on half of the tortilla. Layer on the banana and fold the other half of the tortilla over, covering up the banana and peanut butter.
  • Place the tortilla on the grill pan and press down with a spatula. Flip after one or two minutes, or when grill marks appear. Repeat on other side.
  • Remove quesadilla from heat, cut into four triangles and sprinkle with cinnamon.

My usual breakfasts include a grain, fruit and nut butter. This still combined all those things, but in a little bit more exciting way. Gosh, I love having exciting breakfasts to start the day off right!

Because of my long run, I also had a pomegranate Greek yogurt with granola — Needed to make sure I could stay strong!

With that all digested, it was time to get running. Only one problem: Outside was drizzly, cold and still covered in snow.

Basically, it was not the kind of weather I wanted to run in. And, for as unappealing as running five miles on a treadmill sounds, I figured that was a better option than returning home looking like a walking icicle.

So I did it. And it wasn’t that bad. I just hope that the snow clears by the time I build up to 10 miles!

Food-wise, the rest of the day was really tasty, but nothing worth writing about. Besides, there is another subject I want to talk about…

There aren’t many ways in which my mom, sister and I are all alike. Sure, I share interests with both of them — such as the love of running that I share with my mom and the love of reading that I share with my sister — but we are also our own, unique people.

However, there is one, very unfortunate thing that we all have in common: We get horrible stomach aches.

Although no doctor has been able to offer an explanation, in time, we’ve all found strategies that help us deal with the stomach aches. For me, working out helps with the pain. Even still, it’s just not possible to work out every single time I feel a stomach ache coming on. For that reason, it’s also essential that I figure out other ways to deal with — or all together avoid — the aches.

One way I do this is by keeping a close eye on my diet and noting certain foods that may trigger stomach aches. For example, I know that dairy products don’t get along too well with my stomach. But, I also know that isn’t the total cause, because I still get stomach aches on dairy-free days.

Recently, I’ve been paying more attention to how my stomach reacts to artificial sweeteners — And it’s not positive. That’s why I am making the move to cut artificial sweeteners out of my diet. That means no more sugar-free coffee syrup, sugar-free pudding or even — GASP — Diet Coke.

While I’m not just too excited about cutting those things out, I know that life will go on. And, if I have fewer stomach aches as a result, then it’s well worth the loss of a little artificial sweetness.

Questions: Are there any types of food you’ve cut from your diet? Why?

As a vegetarian, I’ve obviously cut meat from my diet. For “fun,” I also didn’t eat chocolate for all 365 days of 2009.


Grilled Mango with Vanilla Ice Cream

Dang, snow. It would be so much easier to dislike if only it wasn’t so pretty…

The good news is that it looks as if Lawrence’s snow plowing crew is finally getting its act together — The roads were pretty decent this morning, considering how horrible they were just a few hours beforehand.

This was extra nice for Dan and me, because we already had plans for our ritual Friday lunch: A new sandwich shop in town, “Picklemans.” For no particular reason, I had high expectations for the “gourmet” sandwiches. Maybe this was because Dan’s been bugging me about pronouncing it as “Pinkle-mans” ever since I noticed it was opening.

“It’s got a giant pickle on the sign,” Dan said…

Unnecessary details, if you ask me.

Anyway, the first bad sign was the very limited selection for vegetarian options. Basically, I could choose between a veggie sandwich, pizza or basic salad. I combined two and went with a sandwich and small salad…

Consumed: Small garden salad with honey mustard dressing. Half of a veggie sandwich, sans-mayo, on whole-wheat.

To be positive, the bread was good. Otherwise, it was all just “ehh.” Definitely not worth the money when there are plenty of other options around town — Guess I’m just a little too much of a cheap college student for that. But, at least now I know!

After lunch, I had a few appointments on campus, so Dan and I split up for a while. When we reconvened, I could tell something about Dan was different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it…

Did he get a hair cut?

Did he switch with a twin?

Did he — GASP — shave?

It’s been eight months since I last saw him with a freshly shaven face!

Unfortunately, the day continued to be very eventful for Dan’s face…

After an afternoon run, Dan and I were playing doubles racquetball with a couple of friends. The game was going really well, until one of our opponents accidentally smacked Dan above the lip with a ball flying at full speed. As could be expected, Dan was dazed for a couple of minutes, but he recovered quickly and we were even able to play a few more serves.

Nonetheless, I felt that he deserved a special treat. With that in mind, I set out to combine two of his favorite flavors: vanilla and mango.

Grilled Mango with Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • One ripe mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 T warm water
  • Vanilla ice cream

Directions:

  • Begin heating a grill pan to medium-high.
  • After peeling and slicing the mango, soak it in the brown sugar and water mixture for one minute.
  • Place the mangoes on the grill pan. Cook mangoes on each side for one or two minutes, until there are grill marks. Flip and repeat.
  • Serve with a dollop of ice cream and drizzle with remaining brown sugar mixture.

Perfect dessert for a perfect (freshly shaven, newly beaten up) man.

Questions: Are you more of a chocolate or fruit person? What about your man?

I would choose chocolate over fruit 99 percent of the time. Dan’s just the opposite!


Honeymoon dreamin’

First of all, thanks to everyone for the positive feedback on my last post. My experiences would mean nothing if I didn’t learn and grow from them!

As for today, weather conditions went from cold-rainy…

… To icy and sleety…

… To full-on snowy, just in time for the sun to set…

We accumulated three inches of snow in just as many hours. Add to that a thick, underlying layer of ice and it made for treacherous road conditions. In fact, it took Dan one half an hour to drive the two miles to my house.

Maybe that’s a sign there shouldn’t be school tomorrow. I’m just sayin’.

Either way, it was definitely a sign to Dan and me that we should start getting serious about our honeymoon plans. Just imagining that, yes, it can be warm and sunny somewhere in the world seemed to brighten my mood!

When we first began talking about honeymoon options, the first idea that came to mind was to travel up to Mackinac Island, which is located in Michigan, and then cross over into Canada. But, when it came down to the real logistics of pulling that off it became apparent that it was going to be a lot of coordination and — surprisingly — a lot of money.

After realizing that we could spend the same amount of money, but take a fuss-free Caribbean cruise, our decision was about as good as made. We just had to figure out what cruise line!

Now, I’m no pro in sorting through messy travel deals, but the cruise websites do a good job of laying out all the deals in clear language. It doesn’t hurt the sale that they also show off lots of pretty pictures.

[source]

Although we haven’t made a final decision, it doesn’t look like we can go wrong — Even though all I really need for my honeymoon is my honey! (Would you care for some crackers with that cheese?)

No denying that there is a heckuva’ lot more to do (and probably a lot more gross weather) before we get to set sail. Nonetheless, it sure doesn’t hurt to dream on days like today!

Friday Fragments: I suppose I am a little behind the current, but this week was the first time I caught wind of a new study that said 90 percent of women have felt mean and negative vibes from other women.

The gist of the study, laid out in “The Twisted Sisterhood,” is that women have unique ways of simultaneously supporting and sabotaging each other. In pop culture, these phenomena are jokingly referred to a “frenemy” relationships, but it really is no laughing matter — And the negative ways that women are effect goes to demonstrate this.

My first reaction to reading about this was, “Yeah, that’s life, isn’t it?” And, I’d be willing to guess that most women who survive high school (or, worse, middle school) would agree. But, the more I thought about it, the more disturbing it is that this doesn’t end with high school graduations, college graduations, mortgage assumption, etc.

So, then, what would it take to stop this cycle of negativity? How can women learn to support each other without a side of sabotage?

Unfortunately, there is no way to suddenly change society. But, we can change our own attitudes. We can be proud of our friends’ accomplishments and encourage their endeavors. We can make these things happen in our own lives and maybe then the goodness will spread…

What do you think?


Instead of…

Tonight I sat among a crowd of 600 women, listening to a KU graduate talk about her experiences with an eating disorder. The whole time, all I could think was that she was telling my story.

While dealing with an eating disorder, I had darker than dark days, during which I thought foreign thoughts and felt strangely twisted feelings. I had “good” days, during which it was still a struggle to keep my thoughts away from food, exercise and my body. Most depressing of all, in retrospect, were my “normal” days, during which I was sad, isolated and desolate — Basically, my whole perception of what was good and right in the world became warped and unnatural.

I didn’t believe in happiness and I certainly didn’t believe in recovery. Yet, here I am today, knowing that happiness does exist and that recovery is more than possible — It is necessary.

No lie that getting to this point was hard work. I had to push myself into remembering who I was, what I valued and why I felt the ways I did. In this journey, there were plateaus, pitfalls and even a few plunges. Eventually, though, I made it out of eating disorder’s pit — And I’m never, ever looking back…

Instead, I am trying to help other people avoid similar situations by working with my University’s student health group.

Instead, I am using my strong body to do incredible things, such as run half-marathons.

Instead, I am loving myself, which also helps me be better at loving others.

Instead, I am enjoying things that my eating disorder-addicted self would have never done, such as using oil, butter and cheese in the kitchen.

Open-Face Mushroom Pâté Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • ~2 C mushrooms (I used white button)
  • Half of a small onion
  • ~1 t buttery spread
  • ~1 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of thyme
  • One clove garlic
  • ~3 T Italian-blend cheese
  • Two slices whole-grain bread
  • ~1 T pesto (optional)
  • ~1 T fresh parsley (optional)

Directions:

  • In a small saute plan, heat a small bit of olive oil (enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan) to medium-high. 
  • While the oil is heating, finely mince the onion. Add the onion to the heated pan, tossing to coat the minced onion in the oil. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are beginning to become translucent.
  • Meanwhile, mince the mushrooms — They should be really small bits! Add the mushrooms to the sautéed onions in the pan. Add more oil, if necessary. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have shrunk in size and are very tender.
  • Turn the heat down to low, add butter, salt, pepper, thyme and garlic. Stir everything together until the butter is melted and the garlic is slightly browned and fragrant (be careful not to burn the garlic!). Remove from heat.
  • Place the two slices of bread on a baking sheet. Place this under the broiler and allow toast to brown slightly.

  • Remove the toast from the oven. Flip each slice over, top with pesto, a little bit of cheese and the evenly-divided pâte mixture. Top with remaining cheese.
  • Broil the open-face sandwiches until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven, garnish with parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Basically, instead of (not really) living with an eating disorder, I am embracing life and loving every second of it.

Question: Have you ever had to make any “instead of this, I am going to do this” decisions?


Crouching blogger, hidden dragon

Oh, there’s nothing better than waking up from a series of unseasonably warm days only to find the temperature has dropped off during the night — And by “dropped off,” I mean, “hit a point well below freezing that only crazy people would go running in.”

With the comfort that my running class would probably be inside, I enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal without a care in the world.

Consumed: 1/3 C oats cooked with 2/3 C water, cinnamon and vanilla. Topped with frozen blueberries, dried blueberry-flavored cranberries, grape jelly and a spoonful of almond butter.

So then, imagine my shock upon getting to my running class and realizing that, yes, we were going outside. That evoked a serious “ugh” from the crowd…

I would have been ok if only I taken my own bits of advice on preparing for cold-weather runs. Alas, I didn’t, which meant I was stuck running multiple 400M “sprints” in my big (albeit lightweight) coat. Did I say “ugh,” yet?

There is no denying that I felt pretty good after I warmed back up — Nothing beats a morning workout, even if it is freezing and intense!

Two tests later (Idon’twanttotalkaboutit,butIthinkIdidwell…), it was definitely time for lunch.

Consumed: Big veggie salad with sautéed Brussels sprouts and dressed with Balsamic and hummus. Served with an orange and a chocolate chip granola cookie.

Pretty impressive lighting, considering this was taken in the middle of the journalism school, right? Yeah, well that’s because I crouched down next to the oh-so awkwardly placed window to take the shot.

There were people around.

Anyway, two classes, one happy hour-priced latte and one Fiber One bar later, I was more than ready to be home — Especially because there was a special treat waiting for me!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but a tragedy befell my house last fall: My dear blender just up and broke. I know, I know… Time has mostly healed those wounds, but I couldn’t help but feel the painful absence of a blender in my life. It wasn’t until Dan and I were shopping at the supermarket the other day that I noticed an incredible sale on blenders and decided I could live no longer without one.

To celebrate my new purchase, I made an inaugural smoothie.

Consumed: Three ice cubes blended with ~1/4 C almond milk, one banana and a spoonful of almond butter. Served over a cup of non-fat vanilla yogurt and sprinkled with chocolate granola.

How did I go so long without?

There were three other big, wedding-related highlights to the day: I bought my necklace, my hairpiece and invitations! I really want to share the details with you all, but I also don’t want to give just too much away to Dan. So, I decided it would be most appropriate for me just to give a very simple picture of the items, rather than what they look like in person/on. Sound good?

Necklace: The neckline of my dress complements a variety of types of necklaces. Personally, I wanted something with a little sparkle that didn’t pull too much attention away from the dress. That’s why I immediate fell in love with this beauty…

[source]

Hairpiece: I’ve always considered my style to be kind of natural-chic (others may beg to differ). That’s why wearing flowers in my hair just seemed right! However, I wanted to keep them the same color as my dress…

[source]

Invitations: The theme of our wedding is based around sunflowers, so I searched high and low for a design that I integrated the flower in. Finally I found the perfect one — And not a moment too late!

[source]

I love making progress like this! Next step is deciding on shoes — Any suggestions?

You can also check out my first wedding style report!

Questions: What kitchen appliance could you not live without? What popular kitchen appliance do you think is unnecessary?

I couldn’t like a day without the microwave, as sad as that sounds. I do some things the ol’ fashioned way, but the microwave really does come in handy!

I don’t have an electric mixer and am pretty ok with that — Plus, this helps me build arm muscles.

P.S. The “dragon” is hidden, because it does not exist in this post. I just couldn’t get that title out of my head!


Sunshine and roses

Life’s not all sunshine and roses, huh? Maybe so, but it sure is some still-good other things. Take today for example…

Life is sleeping in late. My mom was on her way through Kansas, so she stopped to have a little sleepover with me! We did a lot of web surfing, trying to figure out some of my wedding accessories — By the way, that is a much better slumber party activity than painting each others’ toenails!

Life is enjoying simple, delicious breakfasts. With a late wake-up time and plans for lunch, I didn’t want to have too filling of a breakfast. That’s why I relied on an ol’ favorite.

Consumed: Two slices whole-grain bread with crunchy almond butter, banana slices and cinnamon.

Life is fitting in workouts during otherwise busy days. The original plan was to head outside for a run with my mom. But, the sub-freezing temperatures dissuaded us. Instead, we headed over to my apartment’s gym for some side-by-side treadmill action! I ended up logging two speedy miles before we had to get home.

Life is having a lunch date (plus one). After cleaning up, my mom and I picked Dan up from his classes. Then we headed downtown to a lunch at Global Cafe. First up for me was a steaming cup of coffee!

The whole meal came before too long.

Consumed: A small cup of red pepper bisque. A whole-grain, veggie pressed sandwich with zucchini, onion, mushroom, carrot, red pepper and goat cheese.

Life is hitting up sales. I’m really sad to see our local Borders Book Store going out of business, but I was happy to take advantage of some liquidation prices!

I grabbed a few “reading” books and a few “skimming” books. Has anyone read “The Lady’s Slipper” or “All We Ever Wanted Was Everything”?

Life is saying “goodbye” to my mom, knowing I’ll get to see her again soon. It was such a treat to spend time with my mom, but we both had to get back to reality.

Life is turning my attention to studying. I’ve been semi-avoiding studying for two tests I have tomorrow. This hit me hard this afternoon as I spent a few hours reviewing notes on personality psychology and media ethics.

To keep adequately fueled, I had a few snacks.

Consumed: Steamed edamame with whole-grain goldfish and cinnamon apple tea.

Life is vamping up some left-overs for dinner. I had some pizza and left-over salad in my fridge that were just screaming to be eaten.

Pro tip: If you plan on taking left-over salad home from a restaurant, ask for a box and the dressing on the side before you begin eating. Then, divide the salad and only put the dressing on the portion you plan to eat at the restaurant. That way, the take-home lettuce doesn’t wilt with acidic dressing!

Consumed: Whole-wheat pizza with hummus, pesto, sautéed mushrooms and onions. Salad with roasted red peppers, mushrooms, goat cheese, roasted broccoli and edamame dressed with Balsamic. Served with freshly sautéed Brussels sprouts.

And, you know what?

Life sometimes is sunshine and roses!

Flowers are courtesy Dan. Sunshine is courtesy the grace of God.

Be happy!

Questions: What are you happy about today? Do you have any book suggestions that I should try to nab before Borders is totally closed?