Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Celebrate Love + a Recipe to Match

Valentine's Day is a great reminder to love ourselves. 

We don't have need to splurge on extravagant gifts or experience. Rather, surround yourself with people you love and share something that makes you feel vibrant, alive, and beautiful.

And if you are celebrating the day with solo; even better.
Some things I love:

Real, raw love. For yourself.

Recipe: Slightly Sinful Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are intense, alluring, and have a secret. Three secrets, actually. Even a cupcake can be mischievous :)

The secrets? Beets, Tahini, + Bourbon

A little sweet, a little wholesome, and a little sinful. 

Slightly Sinful Chocolate Cupcakes

High Quality Chocolate
100g dark chocolate
100g almond meal
50g Tahini (1/3 c)
6 dates
1/4 c maple syrup
1 t vanilla
3 eggs
2 large beets (or several small)
1/2 c cacao powder (or cocoa)
1 t baking powder
2 T bourbon (or more to taste)
pinch of salt
1/2 c cacao nibs or chocolate chips (optional) 

Soak pitted dates in hot water until soft. Puree or mash with a fork. Finely shred or puree raw beets, reserving some of the liquid for the frosting. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine almond meal, cacao powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over low heat. Once melted, stir in dates, tahini, vanilla, and shredded beets. Remove from heat, and add to almond meal mixture. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, bourbon and maple syrup. Add to the large bowl and mix well. Fold in cacao nibs or chocolate chips. 

Bake at 350 for 20-30 min.

4 T plain or vanilla greek yogurt
5-6 T powdered sugar
2 T tahini or other nut butter
pinch of lemon juice
1 t beet juice 

Combine and stir until well combined. Taste and add more powdered sugar to taste. Spread on cooled cupcakes. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Rustic Blood Orange + Pear Galette

Jillian comes to visit!

I love my cousin to pieces. I so much look forward to spending time together and  immersing Jillian in Bend life. She fits right in. 

Jillian and I both love good food and are passionate about cooking. So, of course, we love to create recipes together! On this particular visit, we set out to make a fruit tart of sorts. I had a bowl full of pears to use up and was inspired by a rustic crust recipe I’d seen recently. 

So pen and paper out, we started to sketch out our vision. Creating recipes can be difficult, because they have to be unique. There are probably a hundred recipes online for a pear tart. So how do we make this one different? 

For starters, we decided on a ‘rustic’ crust. To us, that meant a more complex and flavorful texture, consisting of layers, rather than a simple flaky crust. We choose rye flour for it’s intense, nutty flavor and color. Is there anything more beautiful than a less than perfect dark crumbly rye crust? I think not.

To add to a more subtle flavor (and challenge) we also used coconut oil in the crust. This was after much debate. At first we were going to try an oil-based crust, but shied away from that these crusts tend to be dense, and for lack of better word, dull. Using butter would have been delicious, but too easy. Coconut oil seemed like a happy medium: a challenge but more forgiving due to it’s high saturated fat content (similar to butter). 

To prepare the crust, we kept true to classic method: flour + coconut oil + ice water. We cut the flour, sugar, spices and coconut oil together and then added the ice water. We tried chilling the dough after it was formed (as you would a traditional pie crust), but found the coconut oil solidified and made for a crumbly crust. Room temperature dough was easier to work with, which we noted in the instructions. 

We kept the filling really simple. We wanted the fruit to be the focus and not detract from it’s beautiful flavor. We were planning to use pears, but I wanted to add something else. I had blueberries, grapefruit, and blood oranges also in my fruit bowl. In the past I’ve done a lot with blueberries, but was really interested in using citrus to enhance the pear flavor. Plus, thinly sliced citrus can be visually stunning on top of baked goods. We settled on blood orange for the flavor and color. To create a caramelized top and bring out the sweetness of the fruit, we drizzled honey on top of the fruit before baking. 

The last touch was brushing the galette with an egg wash to create that beautiful and delicious gold crust. We sprinkled with vanilla sugar just before baking as well.

The final product? Perfect. Beautiful. Delicious. Very much a rustic tart with the sweetness of fresh fruit. Not too sweet, but begging to be paired with some cream. So we did. Homemade whipped cream. 

Stephanie + Jillian for the win!

Rustic Blood Orange + Pear Galette

For the Crust:
1 c. flour
1 c. rye flour
2/3 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. ice water
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t salt
2 T brown sugar* (optional, but recommended)

For the Filling:
4 pears
1 blood orange
egg wash (optional)
vanilla sugar 

Pre-heat oven to 375.
To prepare the crust:
Mix flours, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Cut in coconut oil and pulse or mix until roughly combined. Add water and incorporate together. Shape into a flat disc and roll out on a well floured surface. Roll until the dough is thin, about 1/4 of an inch thick. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and set aside.

To prepare the filling:
Slice pears very thinly and arrange on the crust, leaving a 1-2” border of crust to fold over. Slice a whole blood orange (with peel intact) and arrange over the pears. Drizzle generously with honey. Gently fold the crust up over the sides to cover part of the fruit. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.

Bake for 30 min or until crust is slightly brown. Serve with cream if desired. This keeps well and is even better (if possible) the next day.

*Another sweetener may work here. Maple syrup or honey comes to mind. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Recovery Part III: Listen to Your Body...

“Listen to your body……” 

This is a phrase I’ve heard many times. Heck, it’s even a phrase I’ve caught myself saying to clients I work with. But what does that even mean? Because if I’m honest, when I hear the phrase “listen to your body” it’s often accompanied by an eye roll. Yeah right. Like I’m going to let my body be the boss of me. Usually I’m telling my body to shut the f*#@ up and push it harder.

Remember this? I didn't listen to my body here...
Or here.
Oh here.....

 I can be my own worst enemy. But that same quality, the one that causes me to push the limit every time, is what also drives me to success. It’s my strength and my weakness all in one. What would it be like if I let my body tell me what to do? Never would I finish a 100-mile race. Not a chance. I’m pretty sure my body was screaming at me, begging me, to stop running at Foresthill this year. But my mind was in charge and said “we’ve still got 40 miles to run” and so my body obliged. If I let my body be in charge, then how would I ever know my limits? Or surpass them?

Little Reminders.
Then back to the original question, what does it mean to listen to your body? It’s not as simple as we make it out to be. I pondered this question over the last couple weeks as I began to test the waters with my rehab. A little of this….ok., no pain the next day; a little more….ok, some pain, dial it back. It’s been a constant back and forth of trying new bits of activity and mindfully assessing the impact over the following 24-48 hours. And practicing non-reactivity to whatever I’m feeling. THIS has been a big challenge for me. Normally, I would take this feedback and use it as fuel for the fire- to push even harder the next time. But, in this instance I’ve had to just acknowledge what I’m feeling and move on. Not DO anything. I’ve had to re-wire my mind, but it’s been a good practice in learning more about my body.

 Over the past two weeks I’ve been adding some new activities to my regime. It’s been so great! I now have a schedule that includes CHOICES: strength training, rowing, swimming, biking, yoga, and barre classes. I have been mixing it up so I don’t do the same thing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It’s been a welcome change and I feel like I’m making progress. Not every day or activity has been great; no that would be too easy. It’s been more trial and error to find the right amount of stress without pushing too far. The first day I tried biking I was grinning as I pedaled for 15 STRAIGHT MINUTES! I felt no pain and practically bounced my way out of the gym. But then, 24 hours later my heel was sore. Drat. I pushed it too far. So I waited a few days and tried again. 15 more minutes on the bike. Similarly, I felt good and then only had some slight discomfort over the next day. Progress.

20 min on the bike!

 This routine been a common theme: try something new, have my body totally freak out, relax and recover for a day, and try again. Normally after a few sessions, my body becomes accustomed to the new stimulus and it starts to feel good. It’s slow and there is a lot of trial and error associated with figuring out the balance, but it’s actually kind of fun to learn. So I’m listening to my body and using the feedback as a tool to determine what I’m ready for. Back to the cross training. So I’m biking and swimming, which is one of the biggest breakthroughs on my recovery plan. Yes, it’s only 15-20 minutes, but that’s head and shoulders above where I was a few weeks ago. I still have good days and bad days, but having the freedom to get up and CHOOSE what I want to do is such a great feeling. However, always keeping in mind: some is good, more is not better. Which doesn’t always jive with my over-ambitious-always-pushing-the-limit personality, but I’m learning ☺

 “Listen to your body……” 

Rebecca Bell, The Yoga Lab
I also explored what this means by talking with my good friend and yoga teacher Rebecca Bell. Rebecca and I could sit and talk for hours about the body, the mind, and what it means to get to the core of a human being. Rebecca was kind enough to help me create a yoga practice that supports my recovery. She guided me through poses to help open the right side of my body while strengthening the left side. After guiding me through a moving meditation, we sat, warm and happy sprawled on our mats, and talked. In the past, we’ve had conversations about the similarities between yoga and running and what they mean to us. That connection, that allows us to transcend and get to our core. Who we really are. Raw and real. This is a feeling I crave. It makes me feel alive. I posed my question to Rebecca “What does it mean to listen to your body?

 “Our bodies are a culmination of our stories that that are stored on a cellular level.” 

 I thought about this for a while. Our understanding, our assessment is based on our being and experiences. "Running and/or yoga invite us to clear the pathway and witness what arises, and shedding what doesn’t support us. This clears the way for healing and arriving in the present moment only to move forward." That makes a lot of sense. Listening to your body is really about tuning inward and letting our journey be our guide. Deep thoughts. But really, the more I think about it, the more it resonates with me. Observe. Acknowledge. And let go…..

And how freeing that feels; to just let go. Instead of feeling trapped under a certain mindset or predetermined path, our thoughts and actions are just part of doing. Not being defined. I talk about this idea a lot when I give nutrition advice. A “diet” is not a category or label to fall into, but rather a way to eat. The foods one chooses to eat make up the diet, not vice versa. We don’t have to subscribe to a certain way of being, we just have to simply be. More deep thoughts.

As I reach the halfway point (6 weeks!) post-surgery I find myself looking forward to each day. I’ve able to make tangible progress, both physically and mentally, and it’s wonderful. I AM glad for this experience. Truly I am. But, I’m also glad to put some of the tough stuff (hopefully) behind me. I talked a lot with my friend, Sandi Nypaver, before my surgery and she mentioned what she was happier now (not running much) than she was before she had surgery. “If I could only get to that point…..” It seemed elusive. And now, suddenly, I can see it. I’m not fully there yet, but I’m on my way. As I continue to explore and test new physical and emotional boundaries, I look forward to more growth. And happiness!

Happy National Croissant Day!