Blueberry Muffins

Today feels just like a Friday to me, because  a) I am all done classes for the week.  b) I don’t have any homework tonight.  c) I spent my evening with an iced starbucks coffee while meandering my way through Whole Foods. 

To top it all off, I made a big ol’ batch of blueberry-banana muffins. :mrgreen:  I pulled out the Joy of Cooking to find a basic muffin recipe, and then preceded to add a bit of this and that as I went along.

Blueberry-Banana Muffins

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c. mashed, very ripe banana (about 1-1/2 bananas)
  • 1-1/2 c. frozen blueberries
  1. Whisk together first 4 ingredients up to nutmeg.
  2. Whisk together next 7 ingredients up to banana in a separate bowl.
  3. Add blueberries to dry mix; stir until blueberries are coated with the flour.
  4. Add wet mix to dry mix.  Stir just until moistened (do not overmix…this toughens the final product!)
  5. Pour batter into 12-muffin pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 17-20 minutes at 400 degrees F.

They’re ready when a toothpick inserted comes out clean! 😀  Let ’em sit for a few minutes before popping them out and letting them cool on a wire rack.

They’re delicious hot from the oven, with a heavenly sweet aroma from the bananas and juicy blueberries.  I ate mine with a fork and a handful of walnuts! :mrgreen:

These have a subtle sweetness from the blueberries, and the flavor of banana mingles in for that extra touch.  And they’re super fluffy. 😀

Question: Do you like to follow recipes word for word, or do you find yourself changing things up as you go? 

Running-Related Injuries

Most runners will find themselves plagued with some sort of injury at one point or another.  Some injuries take only a few days of resting and icing while others take a long time.  Having faced a plethora of my own running-related injuries, I figured I’d share a few thoughts that carried me through them while keeping (most of) my sanity. 😀  Feel free to add your own!

A few things I’ve learned through running-related injuries:

  • Not being able to run isn’t the end of the world!  Okay, it is at first.  But give it a few weeks and it’s really not as bad.  Especially if you can replace it with something else that you love and enjoy doing.
  • Keep in mind that you are doing other activities not instead of running but because you are a runner.  These words of wisdom kept me strong through many injuries. 😀
  • It is entirely possible to keep a good fitness level up while not running.  I’ve been biking, using the elliptical and walking.  My running fitness definitely feels a little lower (i.e., 11-miles sounds like in insanely impossible feat at this point!) but I still feel fit.  Better yet, I’m more fit in other areas.  My arms, abs and quads have really become stronger!
  • The foam roller is an indispensible peice of equipment that I would highly recommend to all runners.  I use it as a pre-run warmup and a post-run cooldown.  Roll over those tight quads and hold for a few seconds when you reach a tight spot (trust me, you’ll know when you reach a tight spot…they don’t call this the torture device for nothing. 😉 )

  • Fuel up!  Now is not the time to skimp on calories simply because you feel that you’ll be working out less and don’t need the extra calories.  Your body needs to repair itself.  If you’re continuing to workout, you’ll still need those extra calories.  And if you’re taking the injury as a chance to lay low for a while, your body will learn to adjust and tell you what it needs when you’re hungry or full.
  • Learn what works for you!!  The upper part of my foot was hurting for the longest time, and I started wondering if I should still heed the advice from an old running friend who told me to lace up my shoelaces really tight at the top.  Once I lowered that part of my shoe lace by excluding the last hole and tying it more loosely?  No more upper foot pain! 

  • Whoever came up with RICE was on to something: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  It does wonders for inflammation!  I always ice after working out for 20 minutes at a time, preferrably 3x a day.

  • Stay positive and relish each run you do, no matter how short or long.  And if you’re in pain…stop!  It’s not worth pushing through one run which could land you in a position of not being able to run for several months or longer.  I know this from experience. 😉

Even if you haven’t experienced an injury, I’m sure you have some tips and tricks up your sleeve that help you to prevent them as well. 😉  Any tips on dealing with injuries, recovering from injuries, avoiding injuries, etc? 

Highlightin’ the Day

I think the presentation went well!  My voice was a little shaky at the beginning, but I simply let out a laugh, told myself to slow down (yes…literally, out loud 😉 ) and continued on with the presentation just fine. 

I felt on cloud nine after all was said and done.  There are still a lot of projects and papers to complete before graduation, but it sure felt good to finish this presentation! 😀  Some other highlights of the day:

Highlight #1: LUNCH!

I packed some leftover Veganomicon Snobby Joes  (click for recipe!) with some chopped baby spinach and 1/4 an avocado, along with some kashis for dipping.  I liked it even better chilled as a lunch today then while eating it hot in a wrap last night. 😀  So yummy!

Highlight #2: Long WALKS!

As most of you know, I’m still recovering from a knee and foot injury (i.e., maximum running = once a week.)  The first month of not running felt like absolute torture and I still have my moments ( 😉 ) but I’m definitely falling in love with long walks.  They’re especially fun when a walking partner is involved, and I love how it’s a low impact workout, which allows me to go a couple of times a day.  These past few days have involved a long walk in the morning and shorter walk after supper.  LOVE it! 😀

Highlight #3: Quick and Simple Dinners 😀

Sometimes you can’t beet simplicity.  Simply steamed asparagus.  Simply cooked brown rice.  Simply cooked haddock with a bit of Organic Late July Crackers and a pat of butter.  Simple.  Delicious.  Simply Delicious. :mrgreen:

Highlight #4: Vacation Days

No classes tomorrow = catch up day.  Who doesn’t love a catch up day now and again? 😀

Highlight #5: Memere’s baking 😀

My Memere baked a strawberry rhubarb pie today and I savored each and every bite.  She makes the. best. crust. ever.  So light and flaky.  It was a tiny peice but hit the sweet spot perfectly. 😀

Highlight #6: Chillaxin

I’m just now relaxing with the “Joy of Cooking” and the Biggest Loser.  😀 

Question: What is one of your favorite leftovers to use for the next day?  I love using leftovers!  One of my favorite leftover items to have is brown rice because it’s so incredibly versatile and pairs perfectly with a variety of mixed beans, salsa, cheese, avocado, and/or different spices.  So simple but so good! 😀

Cute Bowls and Confidence

This morning I’ll be giving my last presentation of the year.  It’s on Cancer and the Mediterrenean Diet (I can sum it up by saying this: eat your veggies! :mrgreen: ).  Seriously.  So many protective effects against different types of cancers!

Anyways, this feels like a huge accomplishment for me.  I’ve never been one for speaking in front of large groups of people, but I did it 4-times over a period of 4 months.  I was stretched and pulled in every direction, but I feel as if it’s given me a whole new level of confidence.  Just another reminder that it’s okay and good to face what you fear the most sometimes.  It can only make you grow. 😀

In addition to gaining some confidence (while pep-talking myself for the presentation later this morning,) I also indulged in testing out one of my new bowls. :mrgreen:

  • 1 c. milk + 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 c. oatbran
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • topping: 2 T. Galaxy Granola, 1 T. crushed flax, 1/2 banana sliced

Perfect bowl.  Perfect oats.  Perfect way to start the day. 😀

I’m off to walk, shower, and get myself ready for the day!

Question: Was there ever a time when you overcame your fears and how did you feel about it?  I still have a few things I’m working on as far as this goes, but I can say from personal experience that it’s totally worth stretching yourself in ways you never have! 😀  Honestly, I still have a fear of presenting, but it’s not an uncontrollable fear any more…and it’s such a nice feeling to have control over it. 😀

Back to Normal

The weekend was totally fun.

Not only did I start it off with the Beal Dinner in celebration of nutrition and health (which, by the way, included some awesome salmon, broccoli soup, fresh garden salads and yummy chocolate cake,) but it continued on with birthday parties, day-long trips to the mall, cookouts, and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.  So yes…in two words: totally fun.

p.s. note the pinkies extended.  We’re such ladies. 😉  Also note that I’m at Teavana, one of my absolute favorite places.  I’m sippin’ on slightly sweetened chai.  Love!

Anyways, a totally fun weekend usually leaves me feeling a little on the tired, sluggish side.  That’s when I like to detox…hold on, rewind.  I’ll explain.

I’ve had a detox post before, but just to summarize a little about what I mean:

  • have a normal sleeping schedule again—no more late nights/early mornings or mixed up patterns.  Having a routine makes me feel my absolute best!
  • drink lots of water and focus on lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins
  • work out on a normal schedule again! 

Detoxing the right way (i.e., just getting back to normal 😉 ) 

My morning started with a chocolate pumpkin breakfast cookie, a glass of milk, and a soon-to-be 3-mile walk.  Delicious!

  • 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 2 T. cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 T. crushed flax
  • cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
  • 1/3 c. canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 mashed banana (1/4 saved for top)

The pumpkin makes this cookie way more soft then normal, but I kind of like it that way.  Sort of like a mix between overnight oats and the breakfast cookie. 😀 

I’m off to get my walkin’ shoes on!  I have a meeting with my Cancer Presentation Group later on this morning, so I need to get a move on.

Question: Favorite thing about this weekend? For me, it was just spending so much time with the family!  I had a blast! 😀

Grrranola

Kashi had a “free sample size” cereal box that was offered from their website, and it’s been patiently sitting in my closet until now.

I love Kashi Go Lean Honey Almond Crunch cereal so I was excited to try their newest flave-ah. 😀

Topped onto my yogurt with some crushed flax.

So much c-r-u-n-c-h. :mrgreen:

Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of berry-flavored cereals or granolas, but this one makes for a fun yogurt or oat topper.  I still like my Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola the best. 😉

Question: Granola—love it or hate it?  Favorite type/brand?  Love, love, love it!  Two of my favorites are Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola and Vanilla Almond Galaxy Granola.  Y-u-m! 😀

Filled with “Joy”

Sometimes I like to let the pics do the talkin’…especially when there’s a brand-spankin-new cookbook sitting by my side. :mrgreen:

All my “cooking friends” and family have bragged and raved about this go-to guide, and I am uber excited to add it to my collection. 😀

This morning, I literally had to drag myself out of bed to go to the gym.  The rain was gently falling against the roof, I was in a perfect comfy spot, and it was 6:30.  But I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fit in a morning workout for the next two days, so…yes…I finally did end up dragging myself out of my nice warm bed. 😉

Breakfast was simple but delicious: whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  Yum-may! 😀

The gym was completely empty today and I had the elliptical machines all to myself.  I still felt a little on the sleepy side, but it felt good to sneak in 30 minutes of heart pumping cardio.  Funny how working out can be so invogorating and energizing! 😀

Quick workout.  Quick shower after arriving home.  Quick snack-to-go (plain yogurt with crushed flax and granola.)

Going where, you ask?

My parents spun a surprise for me, and brought me to Williams Sonoma to have me pick out a graduation gift!  I was shocked and a little overwhelmed (okay…a lot overwhelmed.)  They know me so well and I’m incredibly excited to put this Le Creuset to good use!  And I’m in love with the deep ocean blue color. 😀

They also brought me to one of my favorite restaurants for lunch:  The Cheesecake Factory!

What.  A.  Day.

Mom and I drooled over the cheesecake counter while waiting to be seated. 😉

One of my favorite things about the Factory is the bread basket.  What can I say, I’m a total French girl at heart. 😉

Mom ordered the Renee Special which included a cup of clam chowder, a side salad with vinegraitte dressing and a turkey sandwich on a crusty slice of French baguette.

Dad ordered the Shrimp Franchese which was a-m-a-z-i-n-g.  The artichokes were light and lemony and the shrimp was so sweet and tender!

I ordered a Fresh Country Salad with Chicken which was packed full of chopped asparagus, edamame, roasted beets, sharp cheddar cheese, and granny smith apples.  It tasted so fresh and delicate, and I loved pairing it with a slice of the Factory bread. 😀

When the dessert menu rolled around, I was faced with the challenge of choosing a flavor off of the elaborate menu.  This was not good for an indecisive person like myself. 😉

After some serious contemplation, I ordered a slice of the peanut butter cup cheesecake to be split three ways.  I love sharing desserts!  It’s such a fun, social way to enjoy dessert. 😀

The top of the cheesecake had a giant swirl of thick, peanut butter cream.  It tasted just like the filling of a peanut butter cup.

 On the way home, Dad stopped by Barnes and Noble and told me to pick out any cookbook that caught my fancy.  What?  I was way too spoiled today, I almost don’t know what to do with myself. :mrgreen:

That’s when I chose the Joy of Cooking which is going to get lots of good use over the years. 😀 

I snagged an iced soy misto for the ride home to finish off the very perfect day.

Today was so. much. fun.  I came home feeling tired but very happy, and I went with something simple for dinner.

  • 1/2 sweet potato
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo beans
  • couple scoops of Newmans Own Fresh Garden Salsa

On the side, I sauteed up a summer squash with some balsamic vinegar and garlic powder.  Quick and easy! 😀

I’m off to relax for the rest of the night!  I hope your weekend is off to a fabulous start! 😀

Question: What is your favorite, go-to cookbook?  Or do you find most of your ideas in some other way (creativity, blogs, magazines, web, etc.)  My favorite cookbook so far has been the Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen, but I definitely like to mix things up and try new things that I’ve seen in mags, blogs, etc.  It’s fun to get creative with new ideas!

Busy Bee

Sorry for being so MIA these last couple of days.  Last night I didn’t roll in until late, and by that time I was tired from driving (and eating delicious food! :mrgreen: )

Today I have my last Community Nutrition Exam ever so things should slow down (although I notice that I keep saying this…haha.)  

I’ll “see” you all tonight! 😀 

Question: If you had to choose, would you rather be incredibly busy or incredibly not busy?  I flip-flop back and forth.  Obviously I’d rather be somewhere in the middle, but if it was a necessary choice, I think I’d rather be incredibly busy.  As long as it wasn’t a stressful busy. 😉

I’m late, I’m late!

…for a very important date. :mrgreen: (not that kind of date 😉 )

This morning has been super busy so far, but I managed to fit in an hours worth of studying plus some strength training/yoga.  Great, great, G-R-E-A-T way to start the day. 😀

Another great way to start the day (as most of you know) is with breakfast.  My favorite meal of the day. 😀 

Usually I have a problem with cereal not being filling enough, but lately I’ve been finding that with the right mix-ins, it keeps me full just as long as a bowl of oatmeal would.  It’s great for busy, rushing mornings when I need to get moving fast.

  • 1.5 c. Barbaras Shredded Oats
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 T. crushed flax
  • 2 T. walnut peices
  • 1/2 banana

Filling, crunchy and tasty. 

Tonight I’m going with a group of friends to a presentation on Immunity and Your Health, as related to nutrition.  There are going to be a ton of dietitians there, along with some nutrition students (such as us! 😉 ) and it requires that we dress up business-casual (making me realize that I’m going to need a whole new “after college wardrobe” )  Plus dinner is served.  What’s not to love?  So excited! 😀

Gotta get going! 😀  Happy WEDNESDAY!

 Question: Does cereal keep you full in the morning?  Any favorite mix-ins?

Hit of the Day (x3)

Time to open up the last bag of granola sitting in my closet!  Galaxy Granola sent me three flavors to try a while back, and I zipped through them as if it were my business.  Granola does not last long in this house. 😉

I’d say my favorite granola so far has been the Vanilla Almond, because the vanilla was so not subtle which I loved!  It was light and crunchy but full of flavor all at the same time.  This one–the Not Sweet Vanilla–is very subtle in flavor but makes a great, c-r-u-n-c-h-y oat topping. 😀

Speaking of oat toppings, breakfast was a major hit this morning for my tastebuds (hit #1!!!.)  I’m calling this bowl: Peanut Butter Cup Oats!

  • combine the following in a bowl and pop in the fridge overnight: 1/2 c. oatmeal, 1 banana (slice half, mash half,) 2 T. cocoa, 1 T. crushed flax, 1/4 c. canned pumpkin, 1/2 c. milk
  • next morning, mix in: 6 oz. yogurt
  • top with: 2 T. Galaxy Granola, sprinklin’ of coconut and a scoop of salted, crunchy peanut butter

The texture was like chocolate pudding and the flavor resembled peanut butter cups.  YUM!

Another major hit for the tastebuds was found in a rustic bowl of Mexican soup (hit #2!!!.)  This recipe was spotted in a Womans Day mag, and I couldn’t wait to try it. 😀  A few things were tweaked for what was on hand in the moment (veggie vs. chicken broth, etc.) but it still came out perfect.

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch peices
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 oz each) vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 can (11oz) corn niblets, drained
  • 1 c. medium salsa
  • 1 can (8-oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15-oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 T. fresh lime juice (optional)
  • cilantro (optional)
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onion for 3 min or until softened and translucent.
  2. Add sweet potato, veggie broth and cumin; cover and reduce heat.  Simmer 15 minutes or until sweet potato is tender.  Process soup until smooth (I used a regular, handheld mixer because I don’t have an immersion blender…worked fine! 😀 )
  3. Stir in corn, salsa, tomato sauce, and black beans.  Simmer, covered, 5 minutes to blend flavors.  Add lime juice if using.  Top with cilantro if desired.

Serves 4: 177 cal, 6g pro, 5g fiber, 3g fat (0g sat fat)

The final hit for the tastebuds (hit #3!!!) came when I had exactly 20 minutes to come up with an idea for dinner and put it on the table.  Oh the pressure! 😉

I meandered over to KERF, finding myself in desparation.  When I fell upon a simple recipe for black bean burgers, I knew I had found the answer!

The recipe called for 1/3 c. black beans + 1 T. wheat flour for one patty (with lots and lots of mashin’.)  Does it get any simpler? 😀  I decided to follow this technique, while also jazzing it up with some spices:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1+ T. worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper
  • cayenne
  • lots and lots of garlic powder!

Once it was finely mashed, I popped it into the fridge while I made some side salads and tidied up.  About 15 minutes later, I heated up a non-stick pan, sprayed some cooking spray, and threw on the 4 patties that I had formed.  Once they were brown and sizzly on one side (about 5-7 min) I flipped them to cook on the other, while flattening them just a bit.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the stove, I had some balsamic glazed onions and peppers cookin’ up.  That’s simply 1 onion, 1/2 red bell pepper, 2 tsp olive oil, salt & pepper and some balsamic thrown on towards the end of cooking time. 😀

I was out of cooking space and had to improvise by toasting the buns in the toaster.  Did the trick. :mrgreen:

My dad and I each had two burgers + a green salad.   It was a superb meal and came together so quickly and easily. 😀

Aside from today’s yummy meals, I also had some yummy workouts in the form of lots of sunny walks and 30-minutes at the gym for some elliptical time.  These days, I’m really enjoying long walks more and more.  It’s taken the place of running for now, until my injuries are 100% cleared up and they’ve been so very enjoyable. 😀

Off to pack up my lunch and books for a busy day of classes tomorrow!  😀

Question: What was the “hit of the day” for your tastebuds?