January 2012 archive
Why have I never made nut butter before??? It is so ridiculously easy! And it tastes so amazingly good!
This past weekend, I finally made nut butter. It may be the start of a very fun recipe streak.
Here’s my easy How-To:
Maple Cinnamon Walnut Butter
I bought a few cups of walnuts out of the bulk bins at Whole Foods. I nibbled on a bunch before I actually made the butter, so I would guess that I used 2.5 cups of walnuts for my walnut butter.
Threw it in the food processor.
Began grinding. After about a minute, it looked all grainy like this:
Keep blending. After another minute or two, it will get creamier.
Then, I added 2 tbs maple syrup, 1 tbs cinnamon, and 1 tsp sea salt (actually, that’s a lie– I originally forgot the salt and had to add it mid-way through the last mixing segment, but for recipe sake, let’s pretend that I added it when I was supposed to).
I let it pulse for another minute.
And that was it! My very own Walnut Butter!
The maple cinammon flavor is very slight (I wanted it that way), so if you want it sweeter, feel free to add more.
I then tested my recipe with numerous spoonfuls and finally put it on a plate with a green apple.
Charlie was very, very intrigued. I think the fresh walnut smell was driving him nuts (haha, no pun intended!).
"I'm sitting nicely Mom, can you share some with me, PLEASE."
So, I was a nice doggie-mom and let him lick some off my fingers. He was in heaven. Yes, I’ve said before that he eats most things, but I can still tell when he really likes something
I spooned it all into an old pb jar. It filled about 2/3 of the jar. (Please excuse the ugly label, I put a better one on later that day.)
"I am not letting that jar out of my sight," thinks Charlie.
And there you go, homemade nut butter!! I’m all inspired to try making almond and cashew butters now.
Your turn! Go ahead, make some! MUCH cheaper than the store-bought, fresh, omega-3s, deliciousness!
Just a side note– I tried making this in the blender first (was having trouble putting the food processor together). It didn’t work– the nuts kept getting stuck in the blade and it never made it past the grainy-stage. So just in case you were wondering, thought it was worth mentioning.
Have you made nut butter before? Do they even sell walnut butter in the store?
Ummm, Anti-Gravity Yoga– what the heck does that mean? With Wings? No clue.
Whatever it is, sounded perfect for my “Gym Class Challenge.”
This class is immediately following my regular yoga class and I always see them bringing in these white hammocks. I have been sooo curious what it’s all about, so I decided to try it this past weekend.
Of course, I looked it up before I went.
Here’s the gym’s official description ”Anti-gravity yoga wings combines traditional yoga principles with elements from aerial acrobatics, dance, Pilates and calisthenics. …..using a flowing fabric hammock as a soft trapeze, you’ll learn simple suspension techniques to move into seemingly impossible inverted poses to relieve compressed joints and align the body from head to toe.”
I took some pics, but was trying to be sneaky and they didn’t come out amazing, so in case you’re having some trouble picturing what it looks like, here you go:
I walked in and everyone was already ”expertly” hanging up their own hammocks and floating in them.
The room set-up was pretty neat. The instructor (there were two of them– one to lead class and the other to walk around and help people. The second one also went around with incense so the room smelled very zen).
Sneaky in-class photo while we were setting up the hammocks
The first half of class was more athletic. We sat in the hammocks pushing our bodies in different ways, using the hammock as a guide. We did lunges with one leg resting on the hammock. We flipped into a “mission impossible” type pose low to the ground.
The second half was more restorative. We swung on the hammock like a swing. We did modified downward dogs. We sat with our legs stretched out.
Another shot of the room
The flips were really fun and I felt a little like I was in cirque de soleil or in my childhood gymnastics class.
It was also really hard. They say it takes a few times before you get the hang of it, but learning the postures and finding the right balance with the hammock was a challenge. The hammock allows your body to work muscles (especially some stomach and arms ones) that you can’t reach in regular yoga. I am sooo sore today! It’s a good feeling though and so this is definitely a good workout.
My verdict? It’s very unique, a good workout, and if you are bored with yoga, it’s a great way to try something new. The instructors were great and very helpful. I’m so glad I tried it! Was a really neat, new experience.
Will I do it again? I’m not sure. I like my normal yoga class. This was different, but I don’t think I liked it enough to go every week.
I’m so happy that my gym offers this class– I’ve said a few times that I’m not a big fan of my gym, but way to go! I’m def going to tell all my friends to try the class– everyone should do it once.
Do they offer Anti-Gravity Yoga at your gym? I know it’s taking off in NY and LA, but not sure if classes are offered in other cities yet. And regardless if they do or not– think you’d try it?
Gym Class Challenge Update— Remember how I was going to try all those new gym classes to get out of my rut?
Believe it or not, this past weekend, I finally tried the one class I was dreading the most— SPINNING!
This isn't my class, found this online
This was actually sorta big deal for me. As I mentioned before, I had a weird fear around Spinning class. It always seemed so hard core and intense.
When I’ve been at the gym, doing my thing on the treadmill, I can often hear the music blasting through the walls of the spin room and the instructor yelling at everyone. The people in the class always looked like they were frowning intensely. And when they finished, the spinning door would finally burst open amd every single person seemed to be dripping in sweat.
I wasn’t sure that was for me. I was happy on my treadmill.
Sure, I like to ride a bike. But I like to do it more leisurely, like in the form of let’s say take a ride to the ice cream store, not while being yelled at.
But people seem to love spinning, so maybe it’s not so bad? And besides, trying something new was the whole point of my glass class challenge. I decided it was time that I gathered my courage and actually tried it. It also helped to keep telling myself, “it’s only an hour…..”
So, enter- Gym Class Challenge: Spinning
And the result?
It was fun! I actually kinda liked it.
I got there a little late so there was only one bike left. The seat was high and I tried to move it, but it wouldn’t budge before the instructor started blasting music and yelling at us, so I just got on anyways and started pedaling.
And pedaled and pedaled. Hanging in at 100 mph.
The hour flew by!
My attempt at taking a photo without anyone noticing
The music made it so fun and high energy. The class started at 7:30 am on a Saturday– but even though I came in still sleepy, it only took a few minutes I was wide awake.
I don’t think I put enough resistance on the bike when we were “riding up a big hill,” but it was still challenging. I could feel the burn (especially in my butt).
Afterward, I was surprised not to be dripping in sweat, but I’ think that’s mainly because the room was freezing cold. I was sorta happy about that. And I left the gym ready to tackle my day and feeling energized.
My verdict? This was a great example of why this challenge is good for me. I tried something I had been intimidated about and it was actually fun! It was also a good confidence booster to do something I was unnecessarily afraid of (though now I can’t understand why I would be afraid of the spin room?).
Will I do it again? Maybe.
I’d still rather go on a leisurely bike ride, but if I feel like doing something different and high-energy, yes, spinning class can do the trick.
Yay, I FINALLY tried spinning!!!!
What’s your take on spinning? What were your thoughts after your first class? Any classes or workouts you’re sort of intimidated to try?
Hey all you 9-5ers! (Ok, no one really works only 9-5….let’s say 8-6…or later…) It’s Monday again. Boo.
What’s the lunch situation like near your office? Do you buy every day or bring your lunch?
Bringing lunch to work can sometimes be a pain or get really boring. Salads can lose their crunch and sandwiches can get smushed. Yuck. And who has time to put together something gourmet that early in the morning?
Who’s with me?
In the last couple years, I had to start bringing my lunch daily– part of it was because it was my only option (now that I’m working outside the City, literally the ONLY place for me to buy lunch without driving ten minutes is a small cafe that serves the exact same things every single day….i got sick of it pretty quick) and I also started being more conscious about saving money (lunch out=$10/day…..that was $50/week, $200/month that I would MUCH rather spend on something more “fun”– you too, I’m guessing).
So, I started getting creative and have a bunch of great weekday brown bag lunch recipes that wouldn’t leave me feeling like I was still in elementary school (hello, pb&j) or with a smushed, smelly, gross lunch that would leave my stomach growling.
I thought I’d share some of them with you.
Here’s my favorite workday lunch as of late.
Chicken Collard Wrap
Take less than 2 minutes to make in the morning, only uses 3 ingredients, stays together and crunchy until lunchtime, and is very filling.
It’s so simple that I’m not sure you even need a step-by-step, but here ya go anyways.
First Step: Take a Collard Leaf.
Collards are in the brussel sprouts and cabbage family and have huge amounts of Vitamin C.
Step two: Cut a chicken breast and avocado into slices and place it into the middle of the leaf. Sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper on top.
If you’re like me and have a big appetite in the afternoons, make two.
Wrap ‘em up like burritos.
Get your other lunchy stuff together. I brought an apple and some brown rice crackers.
And you’re good to go!
The Collards are amazing that they stay well-wrapped and don’t come apart very easily, so it will actually look the same hours later. Sometimes my traditional wheat or corn wraps come “unwrapped” in the bag, but this hasn’t happened to me with collards yet.
Eat happily at lunchtime!
This is a great, nutritious lunch. It’s technically paleo-friendly and gluten-free, for those who are following those diets. It’s also really, really simple, so simple that I’m not sure it can count as an actual recipe. I’m highly recommending it!
Do you work in an office? Eat out or bring your lunch usually?
How’s your Saturday so far?
I’m loving how this day is starting off! Total Saturday morning productiveness!
I didn’t even wake up until 7, so I’m still surprised that I made it in time. There was a few seconds when I contemplated rolling over and going back to bed, but my future self would have been so mad at my lazy-self, so I sucked it up. Thank you productive-future-self for being such a hardass.
My attempt at taking a pic with no one noticing
9am: Coffee in the Sunshine
I was more than ready for coffee by the time I poured this cup. Look how blue the ski is!
9:45am: Green Smoothie
Yes, I’m still on a green smoothie kick. This one was extra-green. So delish.
10:15am Recipe Experiment Success! (more details next week)
Playtime with the pup. And 70 degree weather.
Amazing for the last Saturday in January.
It’s not even noon yet, so thinking this is gonna be a pretty good weekend.
As a San Franciscan, I just had to write about this– The SF Airport just opened the VERY FIRST airport Yoga Room.
Yep, you read that right. While you’re waiting for your flight, you can pop in for some downward dog and pigeon poses. No more flipping through magazines while your flight is delayed. Instead, you can stretch out those legs.
Yes, us San Franciscans are very zen. So zen that we need a respite from the stress of travelling.
Airport designers recently decided that travelers should have a FREE place to relax and find balance in an otherwise stressful environment. And Voila! We now have our very own yoga room.
The room is, “bathed in calming blue light, with a floating wall said to symbolize a buoyant spirit and enlightened mind. Lights in the room are low and warm — to counteract the bright concourse — and loaner mats are supplied.” source
Signs of a person in a lotus position are all over the airport directing people to the Yoga Room.
They even had an opening this week that featured granola and fresh fruit. Instead of a ribbon cutting, they did a sun salutation. How very un-airport like!
Random or Cool?
Here were my initial thoughts/questions—
- Um, I sometimes do travel in sweats, but not really yoga clothes. Are there going to be people there in jeans and business suits? Or is this place only for those in yoga-friendly clothes.
- Who has that much time in between flights?
- Because I most definitely will NOT be travelling with my yoga mat, do you think their mats will stay clean? I doubt it’s the first priority of the airport janitorial staff and travelling makes you extra dirty anyways….so that could be really, really gross.
- It’s really random. I’m not sold yet and think the space might better be used with, say, a FREE MASSAGE ROOM, but the more I think about it, the more I think it could be a neat idea.
If you want more details, check out THIS article. All photos courtesy of SFO.
QUESTION—– SOOOO- What do you think? Cool and you’d use it? Or wayyyyy too random?
Regardless of if I do any poses, I’m totally gonna pop my head in and check it out the next time I’m at the airport.
This morning, I had a smoothie.
It was the usual– frozen spinach, frozen blackberries, frozen banana, 1 tsp vanilla, water, and an Amazing Grass packet.
When I was at Whole Foods earlier in the week, I picked up this “flavor” of Amazing Grass.
“15,000 ORAC units per serving”
What the heck is ORAC?
Whatever it is, it made my smoothie taste good.
While I was sipping my smoothie, I figured I’d google it. At first, I mis-typed and googled “Orca” and a bunch of photos of whales popped up. I was pretty sure that wasn’t what was in my vegan smoothie powder.
The real answer is:
ORAC (the oxygen radical absorbance capacity) measures antioxidant levels (also known as the free radical destroying potential) of a particular food.
The higher the ORAC number – the stronger the antioxidant properties of the substance.
If you want foods with greater antioxidant properties, you look for foods with high ORAC levels. The USDA recommends we consume 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily. But based on the “5-a-day” fruit and vegetable serving recommendations, that will only give you an ORAC score of about 1,750 units. source
Hmmm, the Amazing Grass packet had 15,000 units, so I think I am good for the day!
Based on a 3 ounce portion (100 grams), here’s the ORAC ranking of the top fruits and veggies: Source
Goji berries 25,300
Black raspberries 7,700
Acai berry 5,500
Red raspberries 2,400
Yellow squash 1,150
Brussels sprouts 980
Alfalfa sprouts 930
Steamed spinach 909
Red bell pepper 710
Dark chocolate 13,120
Milk chocolate 6,740
Yay, Chocolate has a high ORAC value!
We tend to focus a lot on the power of antioxidants– we eat blueberries and raspberries, knowing how high they are. But we don’t tend to count our ORAC (unless you happen to be a scientist). Should we?
According to a Doc, “While these values are useful, they are not complete. Here’s the larger picture. The ORAC scores actually measure only one type of antioxidant activity — the reactive oxygen species or ROS that functions in the water-based compartments of the body. Along with many other water-soluble antioxidants, there are fat-soluble antioxidants as well. source”
So, moral of the story?
Eat your blueberries (and goji berries, and spinach, and of course, chocolate!). I don’t think it’s necessary to count your ORAC score everyday, but keeping it above 5,000 can only have positive results.
And suddenly, it’s Wednesday again. How did that happen? This week is going by so fast. Thank goodness.
This morning, I pulled myself out of bed and went for a 30 minute “wog” (walk one blog, run, one block). I just didn’t feel like running the whole time, so this worked out great. I was wearing baggy sweats and a really baggy sweatshirt (hey, it was cold!) and looked kinda like a nut, so I’m pretty happy that I didn’t run into anyone I knew.
Breakfast was a Green Smoothie!! So happy to bring them back, my blender was on the fritz for a while, but it’s all better now (aka, I got a new one).In the mix– loads of frozen spinach, frozen blackberries, a small frozen banana, water, and a tbs or so of vanilla.
I also added some Amazing Grass…..but I accidentally got the lemon-lime flavor and didn’t realize until AFTER I mixed it into the smoothie. Lemon-lime totally does not go with banana and blackberry….yuck. But luckily, it wasn’t too noticeable.
Took the “green” smoothie photo outside near the “green” grass
Lunch: 12noon on the dot!
Lunch was a big piece of salmon and my delicious leftover roasted veggies. I’m trying to eat a more substantial lunch (aka, more protein and more filling veggies) so I’m not so snacky and hungry in the afternoon. It worked!
I actually cooked the salmon in the morning, while I was making my smoothie. I’m a big fan of cooking in the morning.
The theme of the afternoon was: When in a rut, go for a walk. I’ve been in a total rut the past couple weeks. I think it’s partly the weather, partly just a funk that I need to snap myself out of. Today, I couldn’t focus at work and had a project that I HAD to finish, but it just wasn’t happening. I couldn’t think straight, so instead of just mindlessly surfing the internet, which I tend to do when I am having trouble focusing, I went for a walk. And ahhhhh, the day got so much better.
My attitude totally changed and I decided that procrastinating wasn’t an option and that I would buckle down and finish the project. I also realized I needed a change of scene, so I took my laptop and my afternoon snack
(motivation? brain food? caffeine? sure, why not) into the conference room and sat there for 3 hours. And, I finished!
I must say, once you finally force yourself to be productive after being in a rut, it feels so good. I felt so accomplished.
And then to further get myself out of the rut, I went straight to the gym after work and did a glorious 45 minutes on the elliptical. Ahhhh! After a nice, hot shower, I felt like a whole new person.
I actually wasn’t very hungry (hello heaping portions of nuts and filling salmon), so I just sautéed zucchini into a scrambled egg and ate some of the leftover red potatoes from my roasted veggies.
Dessert was a chobani with copious amounts of peanut butter chips. YUM.
For a mid-week laugh– This is the FUNNIEST thing I’ve seen all week. Have you seen it? It’s from Justin’s website (I think. I just saw it on someone’s fb page). The caption is: “Justin’s Grinding Process.” Haha! Yesterday was National PB Day, so I’m a day late, but still sharing.
Is it just me or is anyone else in a winter rut too?
After a weekend full of things like buffalo wings and way too many cookies, I was needing some veggies big time. So after work yesterday, I went to Whole Foods and filled my cart with as many kinds of veggies as I could find.
I came home and spilled it all onto my counter.
My mix was brussel sprouts, mushrooms (so good roasted!), broccoli, green beans, red potatoes, and zucchini (umm, note to self- NOT good roasted).
And then I had some massive amounts of cutting to do.
But then, the easy part and I could just stick it in the oven and watch Kourtney and Kim Take New York while I was waiting for them to roast. That show is ridiculous.
And voila! A tray of yummy, delicious, vitamin-filled veggies.
I ate a big plate immediately. They are my favorite.
I like to add a little butter and a lot of salt to my roasted veggies. What do you add?
Awww, back from a cozy, snowy weekend in the mountains. So nice to get out of town and this was the first weekend that really felt like winter.
Here’s a “short” wknd recap:
Friday poured rain all. day. long. It was pretty miserable.
This is the mountain that we would have liked to ski. Notice there is practically no snow and there’s barely any people around.
We stayed to have lunch. These sweet potato fries were def the best eats of the day.
Sweet potato fries with 3 types of dipping sauce-- a jalepeno ketchup (yum!), some sort of aioli, and a honey mustard.
Then, we drove around looking for something to do indoors.
There isn’t much– it’s a pretty outdoorsy place– but we did discover one of those pottery painting places! There were 4 of us and we painted for almost 3 hours (aka longer than the 8 year old’s bday party at the next table lasted- ha).
I made this cupcake spoon rest thing on the left.
Fun to be creative sometimes. Spent the rest of the night cozy in the cabin.
Saturday it SNOWED! A lot. All day long.
We took a long snowy walk.
Charlie chasing Jared
Then, we went to the clubhouse so we could use the gym and hot tub. After being cooped up all Friday, it felt good to move a bit. I did 30 minutes on the treadmill (slow), 20 on the elliptical, and then swam outside for 20 minutes.
Here’s the pool, covered in snow, but very well heated.
Was sooo nice to swim! My gym doesn’t have a pool and I miss it so much.
Best eat of the day:
This "everything I could find, poured into a bowl" salad. With lime tortilla chips and some sprinkles on top.
Sunday snowed a ton too. We spent the morning on another long walk. Charlie was so cute– he was rolling and prancing in the snow the entire time.
Meeting a new friend
It was only his second time in the snow and he loves it!
Then, we battled the storm to try to get down the mountain before the football game started.
We slowly made it down the mountain and stopped at a brewery in the little gold-mining town of Auburn to watch the game. It was a big day. I’m a huge 49ers fan. Jared’s a huge Giants fan. The rivalry was on!
We ordered the beer sampler– 11 types of beer- 40 ounces (!) and buffalo wings.
A Giants hat "somehow" made it into the picture. Boo!
Every guy’s dream date– football, beer, and wings– right?
headless beer photo
Did you watch the game? It was INTENSE. And I was totally disappointed with the ending, as you can imagine. I now owe Jared a new Giants t-shirt (per our “bet”).
Oh well, one team has to lose, I suppose.
We got back to the city around 10pm. It poured all night and is still pouring this morning. Cozy Monday ahead.
I have to say, I LOVE spending the weekend in the snow, but it’s so hard to drive and get around in. I don’t know if I could handle it full-time. Maybe I would just need to get used to it. Does it snow where you are?