May 042015
 

So yeah, my health has not been great lately! The cold I had that turned into a sinus infection, came back last week. Just when I thought I was feeling better and ready to get back at things I felt like I was WORSE. I went back to the doctor after spending an entire night up with a sore throat and she tested me for strep (negative) and made sure I didn’t have pneumonia. She said that it could either be viral, and in that case the antibiotics I took didn’t work (they didn’t work, and usually they kick in pretty fast when I take them) or I didn’t take the antibiotics long enough. She said that they used to prescribe them for 10 days but recently changed that to the standard being 5 days (which is what I took) and that’s often not long enough. So lucky me, I got a second round of antibiotics–and a different kind. This time for 10 days. Ugh. I am so over it!

By Friday I was feeling a lot better and I even went for a swim. I was able to swim like normal and didn’t feel like taking 2 weeks off made it a tortuous activity.

On Saturday I slept in really late (like seriously late, 10:30!) and then went to the gym. Since my back is still in recovery I’ve been taking a break from weight lifting. But the last physical therapy session she gave me the okay to do SOME. No squats, nothing that could aggravate my back but things like biceps, triceps, chest press, etc, could potentially be ok. I did a minimal weight lifting session and then ran/walked 2 miles on the treadmill.

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I can tell that I’m still not 100% recovered because that calorie burn is pretty high for what I did. That’s the norm when I am sick–my heart rate is higher and I get worn out easier. I was feeling pretty good and energized, though. It was such a nice day that I decided to do some work in the yard. I pulled weeds, trimmed back some of the blackberry bushes and then discovered that the rose bush I planted last year was actually blooming!

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The photo doesn’t really do it justice, it’s a gorgeous salmon-orange color. I was told it might be 2 years before I’d get flowers on it, so I’m pretty excited that it’s already blooming. Check out how many calories I burned doing less than an hour of yard work:

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I always forget just how much work it is. The day was filled with chores and errands and grocery shopping but it was so nice that we wanted to enjoy the weather and BBQ. So we invited some friends over for dinner. Michael picked up some pork ribs from Costco and got busy grilling. I bought some BBQ sauce at Trader Joe’s that you MUST BUY ASAP! The Sriracha and roasted garlic sauce is AMAZING. So so good. It might be my new favorite BBQ sauce. I can’t imagine using another one after trying this one.

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Our friends brought the side dishes: some raw veggies and hummus, a mediterranean vegetable salad and a delicious bleu cheese and bacon potato salad (that was so good). I had some wine with dinner and we relaxed outside on the deck in the nice weather. It was the first grilling of the season! I can’t wait for summer.

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I had three ribs and a little too much of that amazing potato salad. On Sunday I woke up and was feeling the weight lifting and gardening I had done. Boy howdy was I feeling it. Thankfully none of it was PAIN and I didn’t aggravate my low back. But I was incredibly sore and feeling it. I knew the perfect remedy/activity for a sore body: hiking in the sunshine!

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Sep 092014
 

More zucchini…zucchini…zucchini! Everywhere! Recently Michael and I received a wedding gift from a very lovely friend who sadly can’t make it to the wedding. One of the items was a mini muffin baking pan. I was really excited to use it (and I was also doing some research on making some “dog” muffins that Bella can eat). But I had so much zucchini I decided to make some human muffins first and use up some zucchini. Here is the recipe:

Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins (vegan)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Adapted From: http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/07/banana-zucchini-chocolate-chip-muffins.html

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (vegetable or canola oil may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk (coconut, soy, rice, cow's milk may be substituted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 2 small/medium bananas)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini, measured loosely laid in cup (not packed in or squeezed; about 1 medium zucchini, I didn't peel it)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • about 11 teaspoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips divided, about 1 teaspoon for each muffin (regular-sized chips may be substituted)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a Non-Stick 12-Cup Regular Muffin Pan very well with floured cooking spray or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the bananas and whisk to combine.
  4. Before adding the zucchini, put it in a paper towel and squeeze tightly for about 10 seconds to remove some moisture. After squeezing, you should have about 3/4 cup of compacted shreds. Add zucchini to bowl and stir.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, optional salt and stir until just combined; don't overmix.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop turn batter out into prepared pan. Each cavity should be filled to about 3/4 full, but not exceeding or batter could overflow.
  7. Sprinkle the top of each muffin generously with mini chocolate chips, about 1 teaspoon each.
  8. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes (for mini muffins) or until muffins are set, domed, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
  9. Allow muffins to cool in pan for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they've firmed up and are cool enough to handle. It's normal for muffin tops to be flatten as they cool.
  10. Muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=43945

I used the recipe as a base and adapted it. So the changes I made…

I used real milk (1%) instead of almond. I also used the Trader Joe’s gluten free flour. To make this a little healthier and reduce the amount of sugar,  I made another substitute. When you bake with Splenda it’s a 50-50 mix. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you use 1/2 cup of Splenda instead. For this recipe I halved the sugar and used splenda and I also included 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. I probably could have skipped the Splenda/Sugar altogether honestly.

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I wanted to use the mini muffin tray, which was 24 mini muffins but I had a ton of extra batter after filling those so I did a few regular sized muffins as well. Because of that it kind of made the calorie count impossible to calculate but I’d say that the mini muffins are probably around 75 calories each and the regular muffins are around 100 calories, maybe a little less.

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These muffins were awesome! And addicting! And because they are so tiny, bitesize really, it’s easy to just keep popping them in your mouth. The muffins were definitely DIFFERENT than any I’ve ever done. They were very moist and gooey which I attribute to the addition of the applesauce. I think maybe using the melted coconut oil also did that. I’ve never baked with coconut oil before. It gave it a richer flavor I think. Each muffin had maybe 2-3 chocolate chips in it and so the chocolate flavor wasn’t overpowering at all. Just the perfect amount of sweetness.

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I would say that these tasted more like banana muffins than zucchini. Every once in awhile I’d get a bite of zucchini and really taste it but the most dominant flavor was the banana. These were great and I will make them again for parties. I ended up taking a bunch to my book club group and then I took some to a friend’s house the next day when Michael and I went over for dinner.

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The muffins were a hit at the book club. I really, really liked them, too. They had such a different texture than I’m used to with muffins but it was pleasant. I think this is a great “base” muffin recipe. You could make some really interesting alterations…like maybe shredded carrots instead of zucchini or maybe dried cranberries instead of chocolate chips. I think the mini muffins were too small for nuts, but maybe with bigger muffins it would work well. Depending on how you end up changing the ingredients in the recipe, these muffins could be dessert or could easily be a breakfast treat.

I’ve never baked with coconut oil before and I have to say, I kind of love it! Will definitely be using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil in more future baking experiments.

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