Whoa, life, slow down!

Things have been nuts. Not necessary “I’m busy every second of every day” nuts, but just overwhelmingly overwhelming.

I can’t believe it’s already August. I can’t believe my husband is a 3rd year Medical Student. I can’t believe next year he’s going to be applying to Residency’s (Residencies? I don’t know). I can’t believe in a year and a half we’ll know where we are going for Residency. For the next four years of our lives. For the next four years of this incredibly long journey to becoming a doctor. I’m complaining, but really, being the wife of a med student isn’t hard on me. It’s hard on my emotions. It’s hard on my husband, which makes me sad I can’t help him find more hours in the day, more days in the week, more weeks in the year, more brain room, more study time. It sure sounds (and looks) like trying to be the best doctor you can be is exhausting!

Moving has sucked up all my time. If I’m not physically trying to unpack/organize, I’m thinking about it, worrying that it’s not getting done fast enough, or wishing I was physically doing it. It’s exhausting my brain

Eating lower carbs and running again are exhausting my body. 

Work is exhausting my emotions. Applying for jobs is exhausting my will.

Finances are exhausting my hope. Hope of starting a family in the next year. Hope of affording a much needed vacation when my husband has time off. Hope of making our new house guest-ready. 

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If I’ve learned one thing from Calvin in the last week, it’s that you should always be sneaky. “I’ll just try to push this gate open and combat crawl into the bedroom for some cuddles…”

***Now exiting Complaint Central***

Diet is going well. Exercise is going pretty well. I need some mid-week running motivation. I’m hoping I just *snap* into half-training mode after Saturday, when my training schedule official begins. I can’t wait to get back to 8, 10, 12 mile runs on Saturdays. I miss those days.

I found this recipe for Slow Cooker Pork Riblets. I absolutely adore my slow cooker, so decided to give it a try. Of course all the meat fell off in the process, and the “riblets” because pulled pork (did I cook them too long? Was it necessary to use baby back ribs like the recipe called for?), but it was still delicious! I’ll link back to recipe later, and make a “Recipe Page” when I figure out where it came from!

It’s super easy and there are only 6 ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs pork ribs, cut in half horizontally (you can ask the meat department to do this for you at the grocery store)
  • 1 tbsp garlic-pepper seasoning
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp hot chili paste
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Spray crock pot. Add pork and season with garlic-pepper. Cook on low 7-8 hours.
  2. Remove pork riblets (or if your recipe turns out like mine, pulled pork without the “pulling”) with a slotted spoon and toss in maple syrup.
  3. Combine all other ingredients. Mix together with ribs. 
  4. Cook riblets on a grill or in a wok for 10-12 minutes.**

*I didn’t do this step because my riblets all pulled apart. I instead mixed all the ingredients with them and put them back in the crock pot for another hour on low.

Two days ago I made some Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters, which are delicious!!

Ingredients

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Coconut Oil (~1 tbsp)
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Unsweetened, shredded coconut
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Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters

And that’s all I’ve got for today! I’ll add the nutrition to these recipes later this week. Happy Wednesday!

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Day 21 of 28 Days of Straight Runnin’ Complete!

As most of y’all know, I’ve been running every day since April 6th.

Today I completed Day 21 (that’s right — 3 straight weeks!) and I have MORE than survived … I think I’ve become a better runner because of it!

Most days are only 2-3 miles, but occasionally I’ll throw in a 4, 5, or more. Saturdays are my long run days, so those are at least 5. I have officially passed the 70-miles-in-a-month mark and am set to pass 80 miles before the month is over. I feel great, running is not a drag anymore, and it’s more about when I’ll run then wether or not I will run. Running shorter distances definitely keeps me interested and motivated — how can I NOT find time for a 20 minute run every day? It’s only 20 minutes! If I don’t think I’ll have time later, I take Calvin on a 20-30 minute run, because let’s be honest, I walk him that long at least twice a day anyway. It’s all about fitting it in — and having a dog that can run 2-3 miles makes it so, so easy.

The only negative I can find is that I am doing so much laundry it’s driving me crazy. BUT, it’s worth it. And I have wearing work out clothes twice. So stinky!

I’ve still got some minor fatigue issues, but I think they’re getting better.

fatigue

I’m pretty sure the two bed hogs I live with have something to do with this issue!

I'm still a tiny bit obsessed with my phone app that lets me alter pictures

I’m still a tiny bit obsessed with my phone app that lets me alter pictures

I’ve still been sucking with my diet (working on it), and still haven’t lost anymore weight (double working on it), but I’m happy with my accomplishments this month and can’t wait to see how long I can keep this up!

Big News: This week I started using an exercise ball instead of my desk chair! Right now it’s only in 20 minute segments to prevent injury and soreness, but next week I plan to move to 30 minute segments. I have not fallen off yet, and I’m only bounced on it like a little kid minimally….

after looking at this photo, I'm wondering if I should spend a little more time cleaning my desk and a little less time bouncing on my blogging...

after looking at this photo, I’m wondering if I should spend a little more time cleaning my desk and a little less time blogging…

I’m a sloucher by nature. I slouch all the time. I sit cross legged in my desk chair a lot and lean forward. I lean back in the chair. Pretty much, I do anything I can do not be sitting up straight. And this ball changes that. It makes me focus on keeping my back straight. I makes me focus on balance. It is the right now choice for me, but you can decide for yourself. There are plenty of articles on the web about this, here are just a few:

And I am still working on Scoby’s Zero to 100 Push Ups – I’m on Phase 2, and can currently do 6-7 knee push-ups x 5 sets. Those things are freakin’ hardOne day I’ll do my real push-ups!

Now…for a sweet Friday treat!

I’ve been dying to jump on the Black Bean Brownie Bandwagon for a while now..and I’ve finally given in! And I’m so glad I did! These brownies are gluten free and great. They’re fudgey and sweet. I am in love!

Black Bean Brownies

adapted from Minimalist Baker (I LOVE HER RECIPES – but they are in no way low sugar, FYI)

Makes 14-18 brownie bites

brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 heaping coconut palm sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or other type)
  • Optional Toppings: chopped Walnuts, pecans chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Generously grease a 12-count regular size muffin tin.
  3. Puree black beans through baking powder in a food processor for about 3 minutes, scraping down sides, you want this very smooth!
  4. Stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into cupcake pan. Fill about 1/3-1/2 of the way full (makes about 16 brownies). Sprinkle on additional toppings.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. Let them cool 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool entirely before refrigerating or freezing (they are so good frozen!)
  7. Store in an airtight container for a few days, or freeze for longer storage.

A vegan alternative recipe can be found at MINIMALIST BAKER.

Nutrition: I wrote down the nutrition somewhere for this recipe and I lost it. I will get back to you on this!

These are a-maz-ing!! Enjoy!

Happy Friday & Happy Running!

 

Homemade Oat Granola Bars

Today I’ve got a sick puppy who is mighty sleepy and snuggly, and who also has one heck of a rumbling tummy.

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Snuggling up on me at lunch in the human bed.

Considering he eats anything he can find, I’m not surprised he has a belly ache…again!

I’m trying my hardest to lose weight and this monster mutt just eats everything in sight and never gains a pound…ridiculous.

Last night I made the most wonderful homemade granola bars after dinner. I was really hungry for something sweet, salty, peanut buttery and chocolate-chipy (new word alert*), so this recipe won me over immediately.

These granola bars come out a little crunch on the end pieces, but chewy in the middle. The best part is you can pretty much put in whatever you want. I think I’ll add some chia seeds next time and do half peanuts half chopped almonds! yum!

Homemade Granola Bars

adapted from Taste of Home

makes 32-2″ bars (this is a lot for a two person household. Half of them are currently in the freezer for consumption at a later date!)

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups quick cook oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, or equivalent half splenda, half brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Mix the oats, peanuts, sunflower kernels, and brown sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. Melt together the butter and peanut butter (about 1 minute), stir in honey and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stir together, then stir in chocolate chips until combined and every oat is moist.
  5. Spread on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool 15 + minutes, then cut into bars and let cool completely in pan.

Nutrition

125 calories // 9 g fat // 4.5 g saturated fat // 10 mg cholesterol // 29 mg sodium // 15 g carbs // 2 g fiber // 5 g sugar // 4 g protein

These bars are fantastic! They are a little high calorie, but I know exactly what’s in them and they are pretty low sugar (if you use the brown sugar-splenda mix like I did). One or two bars definitely satisfy my sweet tooth.

Tomorrow’s schedule has 13 miles on it .. we’ll see if I make it back alive!

I already have my sport beans packed and ready to go….more mental motivation then anything..ridiculous, I know! Have a wonderful night!

More Crafting and Less Running

***An update to my last post in regards to the DIY Sharpie Mugs**

I have been doing some research on my DIY Sharpie Mug post since it went up. After I put my mugs in the dishwasher they 50% washed off. I was so bummed! Most of the sites I when googling this project mention hand washing in warm water and avoiding the dishwasher.

I redid my mugs and washed them in scolding hot water and SCRUBBED them hard and some of the ink still came off (about 5%). Not that much. Since my mug is a gift I was still not happy. Redid them and cooked them again.  I recommend writing “hand wash only” on the bottom and including a tag (if it’s a gift) that tells them to wash it in warm water.

Did yours wipe off without water? The mugs that I bought were from Target, on sale for $3 this week. They say “Threshold” on the bottom and are porcelain. My sharpie definitely only comes off in hot water with scrubbing.

One last thing — one of the blogs I read suggests using Pebeo Markers instead of Sharpies.

Today has been a baking and craft day. Again.

I can’t seem to get my fill.

My toes still have blisters on them from running and some new shoes I wore on Sunday, so I skipped my work out. It was also raining. And my new sneakers didn’t arrive yet. Excuses, excuses, excuses…tomorrow is a new day!!

Today I made two new cookie recipes, mint chip cookies and peppermint crunch cookies (turned into chocolate stuffed cookies, will explain at the end where recipes always go!)

Giving any lottery tickets for Christmas? Wrap them up like snowmen, of course!

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My dad loves lottery tickets, and I cannot deny him his guilty pleasure around the holidays. So I decided to dress them up using a pinterest idea to wrap popcorn bags.  What you need:

  • white cardstock
  • black textured cardstock
  • orange construction paper
  • ribbon, string, or a fancy scrapbooking page (i used the last one)
  • a sharpie
  • red colored pencil or red stamp (circle)
  • some glue

All you do it take the white cardstock and cut it the height of the lottery tickets, and a little more then double the width. Wrap it around the tickets and glue the ends together.

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Make it a snug fit! Then you just cut the other pieces to fit the snowman (black top hat, white circle as a button – of if you have buttons available you could use a real button, orange triangle nose, fancy paper scarf, and black marker for the eyes, mouth and buttons) and tadaa!

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A perfect way to dress up a simple gift.

I am semi-controlling my diet this close to Christmas. It’s difficult. But I am NOT in any way controlling what I bake. It’s ridiculous. And wondeful. And terrible. And I think my husband might be gaining weight from my cookies. And I’m definitely not losing any. But I seriously love baking.

Peppermint Crunch Cookies

turned into Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

from twopeasandtheirpod

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My candy cane cookies on the right) did not turn out very well, so I started stuffing them with random candies at home (left)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 candy canes, crushed up
  • candies to stuff your cookies with

Directions

  1. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, chocolate and granulated sugar and blend on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, stopping once to scrape down the sides. Mix until just incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
  3. Shape the dough into a disc and warp in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in crushed peppermint pieces. If desired, roll into 1 inch balls and push various candies into the cookies. Top with a little dough and press down to seal.

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    random candies i stuffed my cookies with today

  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Let sit on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool.
  7. Try not to eat them.
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All cookie-stuffings are NOT created equal. Note the chocolate peanut butter carmel truffle that leaked out…

I’m not going to bother posting the Mint Chip Cookies — they were okay but nothing super special. If you’re interested, here is the recipe link.

I will run tomorrow. And Post about it. And probably complain about the negative effects Chocolate Monday and my high sugar consumption had on my running. But life goes on. If you would have known me prior to this year of health & fitness, you’d be darn proud that I didn’t start baking until late November!

Now if you’ll excuse me — Insurgent by Veronica Roth is awaiting me!

8 awful miles

Today was my first run over 6 miles in a while, like a few weeks, maybe even a few months while. My last half was in August and I took a little break to focus on diet (which didn’t happen) and run shorter distances without a race planned. Those 8 miles today sucked.

Reasons Why They Sucked

  • I wore a long sleeved shirt thinking it was cool out since this morning it was in the high 30’s. WRONG. It was 70 degrees. Thanks Atlanta, forgot what your winters are like.
  • I ran more this week then I have run in a single week since August, so I’m dead tired.
  • I had a side stitch around mile 4.
  • My stomach hurt off and on. Probably my 2 Paleo Cookies I scarfed down before the run didn’t help.
  • I got lost and took a mile long detour into who-knows-where-Atlanta

Anyway, I ran it, it’s done, time to move on! 

The good news it I am back down to 193.4 lbs, which is just about where I was after I got sick for the longest weekend of my life and lost 4 lbs in 4 days. Not fun. My goal next week on vacation at OBX is to NOT gain weight, continue running, and not pig out. I’m going to continue my Chocolate restriction and only eat dark, but maybe give my self 3 chocolate days instead of only 2 a week…

Thursday night I made some Pretzel, Hershey’s Kiss, and M&M Bites to take on the road on our Thanksgiving beach trip to the Outer Banks next week.

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Please ignore my old dirty pan!

I used regular mini pretzels, special dark kisses, and dark chocolate m&m’s. Bake the pretzels and kisses on top at 200 degrees F for 3 minutes and smash on a m&m after and they’re done! They’re great! But I’m currently storing them in the freezer and tried to sneak one today and I swear I almost broke my teeth it was so hard!

Sadly, the sneaking of one of these little bites started a Chocolate Saturday, which is not supposed to be in the cards. I’m going to forfeit my Chocolate Monday because I was a bad, bad chocolate lover today. I made low-sugar oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies (they became low sugar because I used half Splenda half sugar for the granulated and brown sugar, and I made homemade instant pudding mix instead of using store brand!) and some Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies. I will be bringing these to the beach as well. Since I made like 3 dozen cookies. Yikes!

And last but not least…CHRISTMAS IS HERE (at least in our house…and Target…and the mall…and Michael’s — it’s here just about everywhere in the shopping industry it seems). My decorating came a little early this year,  but I couldn’t help it, Rite Aid had lights on sale I was doomed from the moment I saw the flyer this week..

The hubby made fun of me for decorating too early (too early does not exist in my vocabulary when it comes to Christmas, you’re talking to a girl that usually finishes shopping by the end of October..), you just wait until I whip out my Christmas-Themed window clings and knit our stockings!

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Product Review & A Bad Day (and moving on from that bad day!)

I would really like to get the “bad day” out of my mind & out of the way and continue this blog happily..so here goes:

Yesterday was not a good day at all. I am anxious about starting Yoga this week. Work was super, super, super busy and the day ended with me hating my job & the world.

It may or may not be that special time of the month that my husband refers to as “the evil within”.  =/ This makes me SUPER crazy and SUPER emotional and…yeah, most of us know what I’m talking about…’nuff said!

I got off work fully planning on running, but the sky was turning dark & there were thunderstorm warnings. So I waited. Made dinner. Waited. Ate dinner. Waited some more. The sky was still dark. Made some Pumpkin Paleo Muffins with Cream Cheese (recipe to follow post). And then it was dark out. And that was it. I gave up. I got really, really upset at first. I was so frustrated that I didn’t exercise AND that I ate at least 200 calories over my goal for the day. I was feeling super defeated.

But then my lovely, wonderful husband reminded me that it’s just one day. One day out of many, many days that I messed up a little. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not going to totally derail my weight loss, or make me gain weight like I was sure it would. I just need to relax. I’m going to have off days (the rest of my life). I’m not always going to be able to eat perfectly clean and on par with my goals. And I’ve got to accept that. And I think I am one step closer to accepting it as of today. Thank you hubby!

Today is different. No, I did not wake up at 5am for my lifting session with the hubby (after the awful night I had last night, which I won’t even get into, because it’s over, I decided not to even bother). I’m probably going to push my first yoga class off until tomorrow as well. But I will get a run in. Whether it’s in the gym or outside (threatening storms all day again), I will get it done.

Rant over! Moving on!

I have tried a bunch of new products from Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s recently and I really want to review some of them. I have too many to put in one post, so I’m going to aim for two a day! If anyone reading this knows me, you know I have had a sweet tooth since, like, the day I was born? So today is a chocolate review day!

They say that on a primal/Paleo diet (which are sort of following, with the exception of cheese and greek yogurt and a few other things), Dark Chocolate is the only kind you should eat, and the hubby and I have been sticking to that in the form of Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds, Dark Chocolate Chips, and Dark Chocolate Bars (moderation is the only way we have still lost weight on this diet, trust me, dark chocolate tastes awesome when it’s all you’re eating in the form of candy)!!

Coffee Crunch in Dark Chocolate (Whole Foods)

This little gem is obviously already opened (and half finished)! I got it because my husband loves coffee (and I mean LOVESSSSSS). I was browsing the dark chocolate bars at Whole Foods and couldn’t resist. At first he wasn’t sure if he really liked it, but I think when you’re on a low sugar diet almost any chocolate is good! The thing he wasn’t sure of was the actual coffee bean pieces in it. But I thought it was really great!

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate with toffee, pecans, and walnuts

I’m still not sure about this one. You can tell just how not sure I am because I’ve had it since the middle of July & there is over half left. I don’t really think that it tastes like toffee..or walnuts..or pecans. It’s just kind of bland. It’s not necessary not edible, it’s just not good. I don’t really recommend buying this bar, as least compared with other Trader Joe’s candies I have had in the past!

Apparently this is the week of baking. Because I had extra cream cheese from the twice baked cauliflower I made for dinner last night, I decided to make some Paleo Pumpkin Muffins. I also have zucchini bread lined up this week, and these Apple Cider Paleo Donuts are for sure on my to-bake list!

I need to be stopped.

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

from CindyStable

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins…

…with cream cheese filling!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp almond butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 packet Stevia in the Raw
  • coconut oil, for greasing pan

Directions

  1. Mix dry ingredients. Mix in wet ingredients one at a time, not including cream cheese and Stevia.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin.
  3. Mix cream cheese and Stevia with handheld mixer. Add muffin mix to pan, add a tbsp or so of cream cheese mix to the center of each muffin.

    Paleo Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Dropped in the center. My recipe only makes 8 muffins because I only wanted 8. If you want to make 12, multiply all ingredients by a factor of 1.5.

    4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, turning pan once to bake muffins evenly. Because of the cream cheese it’s hard to tell if they are done or not by sticking something in the center. I stuck a knife to the right of the cream cheese to test.

    Hubby’s Response (to the fact they are paleo with no added sugar) “HOW is this EVEN possible?!” …he’s so cute! =)

    I will add the nutrition on here later! I haven’t calculated it yet!

And to make this dessert even more yummy, pair it with a cup of hot (or iced!) Vanilla Chai-Spiced Coffee from Trader Joe’s!! I just got this coffee yesterday (a total impulse buy). I was actually looking for vanilla chai tea & saw this & could not resist!

This coffee is literally a perfect mix of Chai Spices and Coffee.

To make a super yummy iced coffee add 1-2 tbsp half and half, 1 splenda, 2 pumps Starbucks Vanilla Syrup & ice!

Have a great Wednesday!