Sunday, July 27, 2014

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't like to bake on a Friday or Saturday.

Why? Because if I bake on any other day, Sous Chef and I can take the leftovers with us to work the next day. But a Friday or Saturday? We're much more likely to eat it all ourselves.

And that's both unhealthy and not in keeping with a formidable lesson our parents taught us when we were young: sharing is good.

I baked these cookies for a co-worker at least a year ago; and she has been requesting them ever since. It's not that I intentionally avoided making them; it's just that they are so good and so easy to eat and so easy to consider "healthy" (because they're gluten free and higher in protein than other cookies) that it's kind of dangerous for them to be in the house.

But I'm feeling stronger lately, both physically (thanks to PiYo) and mentally. I'm in a good place. A good enough place that I feel that I can make these cookies without completely derailing my progress.

I originally found this recipe in an old issue of Clean Eating magazine; it's since been published in one of their cookbooks and is available online as well. I tweaked it a bit this time around because I found that the first few times I made them, the cookies were a little too wet for my liking. I decided to add in some almond meal to see what would happen.

I love how they turned out; crisp and buttery. Almond butter adds a delicious depth to the cookies, and they're not overly sweet (I cut down the amount of sugar the original recipe called for as well).

As strong as I feel, I'm really glad I made these on a Sunday.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Makes 30. Inspired by Clean Eating)

1 cup unsalted almond butter
1 cup almond meal
1 egg
½ cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
About ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)

  1. Combine everything except the chocolate chips in a bowl. Use either your fingers or a spoon to form the dough into balls a little smaller than a tablespoon in size.
  2. Place the balls an inch or two apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Gently press three or four chocolate chips into each ball, slightly flattening the balls.
  4. Bake at 350 for ten to twelve minutes - the cookies should look slightly underdone, just barely brown at the edges.
  5. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  6. Enjoy with a nice cool glass of almond milk (you know, to keep to the theme).
  7. Pack up leftover cookies to take into work with you tomorrow. Just do it, you'll thank me later.

Bake well!

PiYo Day 21: Strength Intervals


This workout is no joke. No. Joke. At all.

I don't know why, when I read "Strength Intervals" on my PiYo calendar, I pictured us standing there, somewhat stationary, doing squats and lunges.

Intervals obviously involve cardio.

And Chalene obviously loves intervals.

I don't know how the three "regular" people on the screen didn't just die after the first ten minutes. I was ultra-modifying along with Michelle the Modifier, and I could barely do it. Several times I sprung up from one of those 8-count lunges (again - are you effing kidding me?), screaming "Fuuuuuuuuuuudge me!" (except I obviously didn't say "fudge"), convinced that my burning glute muscles were going to detach themselves from my skeleton in order to form the perfect model for an Auntie Anne's pretzel.

Fudge indeed.

Still, I have to admit, there's no way I would have been able to do this workout at all the first week. My conditioning has certainly improved. Walking to Rita's the other night for my first sprinkle-dipped soft serve cone in probably three years, we walked up a ramp to a pedestrian bridge to get across the street.

On the way back, Sous Chef commented, "You didn't break a sweat at all on that ramp. A while back, you would've stopped talking and been all out of breath. Today, you just kept going."

I hadn't even noticed this improvement, which is one of the many, many reasons I love my Sous Chef.

I'm hoping that in another month, I'll return to this Strength Interval workout and be able to do more.

Maybe I won't even notice, but that's okay. I'll just keep going.

BTW, while I think I look pretty darn good in this post-workout selfie (I am still not a huge fan of them, but it helps them to look better when you've lost a little weight and your cheeks don't look like they're stuffed with marshmallows), please note that the reason my cheeks look especially thin and my lips are puckered is because I was taking deep, deep breaths in an effort to not pass out.

Breathe well.

Food for thought

"Whenever I want a really nice meal, I start dating again."

- Susan Healy

Photo by Thaloanthe

Saturday, July 26, 2014

PiYo Day 20: Sweat

Sous Chef woke me up today all in an adorable tizzy:

"I want to go across the street to the place where they sell the coffee and the sweet round things with holes in them but I don't want to mess up your Shakeology routine..."

He was planning on making a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, and the sweet round things with holes in them (you probably call them donuts). I responded as well as I could first thing in the morning:

"You're the sweetest. Get me a blueberry one!"

He was like a kid on Christmas morning, practically skipping out the door to go get it. For some people, stopping by the donut shop, even on a weekly basis, is routine - it's just what you do, a way to treat yourself on the weekend. But for us, even though it's mere steps from our home, it's a huge treat. We almost never go there.

Even through my grogginess, I knew I would have that one donut, and I would have my Shakeology shake. And that would be it. And there was a certain amount of peace around that decision made in my semi-conscious state.

I got up, fully conscious-ized myself, and did the Sweat workout.

They're getting harder.

Afterwards, I was thoroughly spent, sweaty, and already a bit sore. I asked Sous Chef, "Why is this getting harder?"

His reply:

"You're probably trying harder."

He's right. The first week (at least) was learning curve time. Now, I've done several of the workouts enough that I know what's coming. I can set myself and my modifications up better so I can actually fit in more of the workout.

I'm moving more, and doing more, and (hello!) it's more challenging because of that.

Boy, this working out for reals thing really is a journey.

And the donut was delicious.

Friday, July 25, 2014

PiYo Day 19: Rest

A few months ago, in the midst of the worst part of my back injury, I was searching for inspiration. I found quotes on Facebook and Pinterest, printed them out, and pinned them to my desk at work and my refrigerator at home.

The theme: Keep going. Don't quit. One of my favorites says, "It doesn't matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop."

I also came across a blog post on some business-centric blog: 19 hard things you have to do to be successful.

I loved this list so much that I printed out two copies at work; one for my desk and one for a communal area. The one for my desk ended up taped to the top; I literally do my work on top of this list every day. When I have a minute, I try to look it over, willing the words to absorb into my subconscious.

The second item - "You have to get up earlier than you want to get up" - is one that I've struggled with for years, long before I stumbled across this 19-point guide.

When I do discipline myself to get up early, I'm thoroughly unstoppable. I get so much more done. I feel organized, refreshed, and centered when I arrive for work. I'm more productive. I sleep better at night. I come home from a work day feeling like I've already accomplished enough; if I want to, I can just relax.

It's amazing.

And yet, day after day, I find myself hitting that snooze button. Getting up with barely enough time to fit in a workout, and sometimes without enough time, and the length of my workout is sacrificed.

What is this block? What in the world keeps me in bed when I know in my heart of hearts that I'll feel a million times better if I get up even just an hour earlier?

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this; so I put it to you - those of you who do manage to get up early every morning:


This week's celebratory shake is one of my favorites; it's based on a Mexican hot chocolate - cinnamon and a touch of cayenne add a smokiness and little bit of heat that takes this shake to the next level. Plus, the spices are a great boost to your metabolism. Throw in a couple of wheatgrass cubes, and you've got yourself a veritable super-shake.

Mexican Chocolate Shake

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop chocolate Shakeology
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Scant ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper ("scant" means "barely")
½ tsp vanilla extract
Dash freshly ground nutmeg

1. Pour the almond milk into your blender cup. Add in the Shakeology powder, cinnamon, vanilla,
and cayenne.

2. Position the microplane (fancy spice grater) over the blender cup. Place the nutmeg seed over it, and as you make your first swipe against the grater, accidentally drop it into the cup.

3. Stand there for a second, mouth agape, because it's still early and you're still waking up so you have a hard time comprehending where the nutmeg went.

4. Dip your hand into the cup, extract the seed, rinse the cinnamon off of your hands, add in a little more cinnamon to the blender cup to make up for the cinnamon that was removed upon nutmeg seed extraction, and grate the nutmeg into the cup properly this time, you silly thing, you.

5. Blend everything together and enjoy.

Shake well.