Red White & Blue Cookies

redwhitebluecookies-26

It’s almost the 4th of July!!!

One of my very favorite things in the world is fireworks. I missed them for years when I was working at camp, and I will never forget the summer I stayed in Idaho, going to see fireworks was a huge deal for me! You know me…I like bright, pretty colors. They make me happy. I’m 5 years old on the inside, so it doesn’t take a whole lot to impress me.

Last year, I stayed in Phoenix for the summer, and we had a big BBQ around the 4th, and that’s when I got the idea for these cookies. In fact, I posted them waaaayyy back when I first started blogging, but the pictures were pretty bad, and I loved them so sooooo much, that I had to make them again!

In fact, a year ago, they were Steve’s very favorite dessert I’d ever made. Now, I think there may be a new favorite, but these cookies are still pretty high up on the list. We took them to the bike shop, and I left with a fundraising order! Sweet!

I realllllly love these cookies. I love the combination of flavors and the soft, gooey texture, but I especially love the way the blueberries burst when you take a bit. It’s like the most amazingly fresh blueberry muffin, but a cookie.

Also, they’re pretty. That pretty much never happens with my food. In fact, the other day Steve told me that my brownies were photogenic, and it was, like, the best compliment ever. Usually my food looks like a kindergartner put it together. Which is almost true. Maturity wise.

And now I want to eat a dozen. And not share. Good thing we don’t have a cookie sheet up here yet…


Red White & Blue Cookies

yield approx 3 dozen

  • 1 cup brandy (to soak the berries in, then saving 2 tsp for later)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup small blueberries
  • 1/2 cup honey apple butter
  • 1/2 cup non fat plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs liquid egg whites (or other egg substitute, or 3 egg whites)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup all natural white chocolate chips
  1. Put the blueberries in a wide and shallow bowl, pour in a bit of brandy. Enough so they’re surrounded by it, but not drowning. Cover and place in the fridge for at least one hour. Afterwards, place a colander over a bowl and pour the berries and brandy through, putting the cranberries and the brandy they soaked in aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, beat apple butter, yogurt, and sugars until combined. Add liquid egg whites, and 2 tsp berry soaked brandy. Beat well, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then slowly add to wet mixture, beating until just incorporated. Fold in the brandy soaked blueberries, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips. Let chill for 15 minutes in the fridge.
  4. Spray baking sheet with non stick spray or parchment paper. Use a small-medium sized cookie scoop to transfer dough onto the baking sheet. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes until just set, and the edged are slightly golden. Let cool for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

My Trip To Ashland

IMG_0075

What an amazing vacation! I don’t remember the last time I went away, and felt so relaxed–it was perfect, and exactly what I needed before I begin my summer work. Ashland was absolutely gorgeous.

Mandie showed me around the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

LOOK!!! Mandie’s name is on the sign!!! She’s basically famous.

I drank this awesome delicious blackberry beer. Aaaaaahhhmazing,

We went to a beautiful winery at the Applegate.

The second day, we met up with our friend Brittany who is also working up there, and took an other walk through Lithia Park. I can’t get over how amazing it is. If I lived here, I would be at the park every single day.

And I finally got to try the famous clover coffee from Starbucks.

The truth? It tasted the same as regular iced coffee to me. Maybe I need a more refined coffee palet ;)

The trip was absolutely perfect in every way, and seriously has me wanting to move to the Northwest! Now I’m busy busy up in Portland, but I have 2 exciting announcements!!

YESTERDAY I RAN!!!!! It only hurt a tiny bit, and for the last mile and a half, I didn’t stop to walk at all! I’m on my way back to training, and I had a serious runners high going!

My Vanilla Bean Cookie Butter Cup Cupcakes are featured on the RecipeNewZ facebook page! RecipeNewZ is a newer food photography site that’s really great, so you should go check them out and show them some love, since they have been so great to me.

 

 

 

Jason’s 31st Birthday

"It's my birthday!" Jason is going to be so happy I posted this picture.

So Jason is officially 31, which, if my memory serves me correctly, means we’ve been friends for about 11 years. It’s been quite a decade, and I have had the pleasure of watching one of my favorite people on earth grow up, and become this truly incredible version of himself. I love that about life long friendships–seeing how people change, and grow, and who they become along the way. I can’t wait to see how we all morph over the next decade!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure to celebrate Jason’s birthday before I left for the summer, so Saturday night we headed to O.H.S.O. Brewery. I read about this place on Marisa’s blog, and it looked like the perfect place for the occasion. Great looking menu, and enormous list of beers on tap, including some of my personal favorites.

“It’s my birthday!” Jason is going to be so happy I posted this picture.

Next to Jason is his friend Charles. Charles *hates* having his picture taken. He tried to hide from the camera several times, but he was right next to the birthday boy, so he’s in more shots than he knows ;)

Hermano is creepily trying to get into that shot in the background, hah.

Look Hermano, you get your OWN picture! ;)

While we waited for our food, we had some drinks. I had a half and half pint of coffee porter and sonoran white chocolate ale. Ummm, delicious. I’m a great beer mixer. I couldn’t wait for Jason to open his presents, so he started right after we ordered.

We got him the awesome Minnie Mouse bag. Hi Charles! ;)

Okay, so last week Jason was at my house, and his birthday present had come in the mail already, and Steve and I didn’t realize it was sitting out on the counter, so Jason picks it up and asks “Whose is this?” Crap. I totally froze, and blew the surprise, so he wasn’t exactly shocked when he opened it.

A GARMIN!!! What’s funny is Tom got him a one year gym membership. We didn’t consult until after we bought our respective gifts. I suggested to Bethany to make the whole thing really offensive and buy him a session of liposuction. Hah. But seriously, Jason has been doing awesome with his running, and I think he will get a ton of use out of this baby, especially since the day of his birthday celebration I pretty much forced him to sign up for a half marathon. Yes, I am a great friend. If you would like a super obnoxious friend that forces you to work out against your will, I am now accepting applications.

We also got him something he will probably enjoy even more…

It’s a People of Walmart book. Jason hates Walmart, and he always talks about how trashy it is, so I knew he’d get a kick out of this book. Next, he opened Bethany’s present.

Clearly, it was a hit.

Great work, Bethy. Not only did you buy the best gift, and fit the gift theme, you also fit the wrapping theme. The hot pink is perfect.

SHAKE WEIGHT!!!!!

Pump those biceps. It’s also the female shake weight. Gotta start somewhere.

We also had a pretty hilarious talk about shake weight injuries. Apparently, that thing can be dangerous! Shake with caution. Steve and I registered for one of those when we got married, but I am very sad to report that no one got us one.

Shortly after presents, our food arrived, and everything was so so soooo delicious. I didn’t take pictures of any of it because I was too busy inhaling my veggie burger. Yummmmm. Then we had birthday brownies for dessert.

Recipe coming soon. These were ridiculous.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASY!!!!
O.H.S.O Brewery on Urbanspoon

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

momcupcakes-3

My mom loves chocolate. She used to tell me that a dessert without chocolate was a total waste.

Most of my life, I was more of a vanilla person. I liked chocolate in things, but I never liked chocolate based desserts–I always thought they were too overwhelming. In fact, at one point in my life, I swore off chocolate thinking it would help with my weight loss. It didn’t. Turns out when you replace your mocha with a caramel macchiato, and make your chocolate chip cookies with butterscotch chips, it actually makes no difference at all. Funny how that works.

When I did the awful carb diets and swore off sweets for entirely too long (if you can imagine me eating no dessert–it’s a scary thought), my tastes entirely changed. Suddenly, the richer, deeper, and more intense the flavor was, the more I loved it! Dark chocolate became more appealing than my once favorite white, and I started craving brownies instead of snickerdoodle cookies.

These days, it depends on my mood, and if you offered me a chocolate and a vanilla cupcake, I would probably want a vanilla one with chocolate frosting. Or a chocolate one with vanilla frosting. But my mother–she will choose all chocolate. Well, to be honest, it probably doesn’t matter what kind of cupcake it is, because all she really wants is the frosting ;)

Frosting is an other thing I used to not like. But I think that’s because I was eating store bought frosting, and that’s gross. In fact, I find most buttercream kind of disgusting. So sickeningly sweet that it makes your mouth feel funny. I look at the amount of sugar in most frosting recipes, and usually end up taking almost a cup of it away! Now don’t get me wrong, this frosting has plenty of sugar, but it isn’t overwhelming. You can taste the cream cheese, and the chocolate, and not just get a mouthful of sugar. Cream cheese and whipped cream frostings are something I can get behind. You can keep your buttercream and fondant.

These were my mom’s birthday cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes made with coffee to enhance the chocolate flavor, filled with white chocolate, and topped with my very favorite chocolate cream cheese frosting. Rich chocolatey flavor, without feeling heavy. That is my kind of cupcake. Especially delicious with a glass of almond milk. Mmmmm.

 

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
yield 1 dozen

Cupcakes inspired by Brown Eyed Baker

  • 1 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder (or Hershey’s special dark)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup all natural white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 batch Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, and spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together applesauce, sugar, and egg substitute until well combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, coffee, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture. Fold in white chocolate chips.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 liners. Baking for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Cool cupcakes completely on wire racks. Meanwhile, prepare frosting. When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost and enjoy.

 

Work It Out 6/11-6/17

Pedal, pedal, pedal. As I’ve mentioned probably 700 times, I still can’t run. I’m also a little leery of lifting, or doing pretty much anything that involved core muscles at all. Biking, however, feels great, so I just stuck with what I knew was working this week to try to get back to my normal level of fitness. Here’s how I worked it out last week.

Monday: Off. I tried to jump immediately back into my life last Sunday, and I ended the night feeling sick, exhausted, and even emotionally spent, so I listened to my body, and took a step back.

Tuesday: 10.73 mile bike ride, 14 mph pace. YES!!!! This was the first time since surgery that I actually was able to push a little bit, and felt like I got closer to a real workout. It felt AMAZING, and I knew things were on the up swing.

Wednesday: 20 mile bike ride, 14.7 mph pace. Steve wanted to do 20 miles in less than 90 minutes. We finished in 1:22. Felt awesome, happy, and even got a little bit of biking high. Sweeeeet!

Thursday: Off. Smart, or lazy? You decide. I planned to go to spin, but I didn’t. At the time I thought it was laziness, but looking back, I really think it was for the best.

Friday: 28 mile bike ride, easy pace (12.4 mph). Nicole and I revisited our Friday cross train and breakfast/coffee tradition. We chatted the whole time, and I am so glad we were able to go, because now I have to go almost 2 months without my BBFF, and I’m so sad! I miss you already, Niole, and I LOVED our ride on Friday!

Saturday: Off. I had to bake birthday brownies. Also, I thought I would be climbing up a bunch of stairs at the water park all day. That plan was squashed when I felt pain on the kiddie slide. That’s ok. I would have loved to get a short workout in that morning, but sometimes there just isn’t time, and it’s not worth beating yourself up over.

Sunday: SPIN!!! I would love to say that class was perfect, and I enjoyed every minute, and it felt just like normal, but that’s not the case. Everything in the sitting position was great, but all the bounciness and jolting of the standing position hurt, and I found myself so frustrated that I couldn’t do everything we were instructed. I understand that I did the best I can, and that is all I can ask of my body, but I just have trouble with that being enough for me. I wanted to leave about 15 minutes in, but I made myself get out of my head, and enjoy the work out, and eventually, I did! We even did a 1 mile “race”, and I came in second! The first “race” was in the standing position, and that’s when I got so upset at the beginning (competitive much?), so when the sitting one came, I kicked my ass into gear, and was just a split second behind the guy that finished first (he also “won” the first time, but admitted to cheating, so I’m just going to pretend he cheated the second time too, and that I am the winner ;) ).

 

Other people’s work out news:

  • Stacey officially starts marathon training today too! Show her some love!
  • My best friend Jason just registered for his first half marathon!! He will be running AFC with me in August! I’m ridiculously proud of him!!

How did you work it out last week? Any exciting fitness goals happening in your life at the moment?? Tell me exciting things!!

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

IMAG0746

Hello from Ashland, OR! Tons of exciting things happening right now! Yesterday, I left Phoenix for the next 7 weeks. I’m on a little bit of a vacation for the next few days visiting my friend Mandie, then teaching/directing/choreographing in Portland, then off to Maui for my (late) honeymoon. Whew. Can you imagine packing for that many things at once? It was a little ridiculous. Even Clementine thought so.

“Mom. I think you’re forgetting something. If you don’t pack me, who will run circles around your neck and nibble on your nose all summer? Huhhhh???”

It’s definitely going to be a challenge to be away from Steve for the next 6 weeks. Before I left, he took me on the best date ever. This guy. He is amazing. It started out with my first trip ever to the baking supply store!

Then dinner at Bandera.

They have the bessssst cornbread!

Yummmmm.

Baking store and bread? Clearly, he know the way to my heart. ;)

I arrived in Ashland late last night, and pretty much went straight to bed. I can’t stay with Mandie because she has a cat, but she put me up in a super cute hotel down town! It kind of reminds me of a fancier hostel. There’s a shared bathroom, but private rooms, and the rooms are super cute and homey looking.

I woke up bright and early this morning. Of course. Why would my body ever possibly let me sleep in? Actually, it wasn’t bad, though. I looked at my phone, and it read 52 degrees, and I looked outside and saw clouds, and felt a beautiful breeze. I couldn’t wait to get outside, get my workout in, and explore the city! Today is the first official day of my marathon training. I had high hopes that my body would be like “OMG marathon training!! ALL BETTER!! Run all you want, Ari!” You can call me silly, but I prefer idealistic ;)

The truth is, running still hurts. Almost immediately. But it’s okay. I had surgery less than 2 weeks ago, and as much as I would love to wear a cape and stuff, I’m not super woman. The good news is it’s so early that this won’t set me back, and the mileage is really low, so I can walk my training plan until I’m back to normal. I actually forgot how great walking can be! I walked around downtown Ashland before finding Lithia Park that Mandie had mentioned to me when we drove in last night.

This park was absolutely gorgeous!! I really wished I had brought my camera with me, and not just my phone. I will definitely have to go back before I leave. I did manage to capture a bit of it on the android, though.

This beautiful creek runs all the way through the park, and there are tons of benches, and places to sit, as well as little paths down to the water. If I lived here, I would be here every day. The road started off paved, then turned into a trail.

I just kept walking, and let myself kind of get lost in there. I had been so excited to get out this morning, I hadn’t even thought to grab my ipod, and I ended up being really glad to be out there without it, and just be with nature. I saw lots of other walkers, a few runners (jealous face), and even some people doing yoga! Everyone was super friendly. In fact, I am kind of obsessed with this town. If I never make it back to Phoenix, you know why…

I have this thing for water. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the desert.

And the coolest part? I saw DEER!!!!!

I was walking by, and I heard rustling. The next thing I knew I was 3 feet away from these deer, staring them in the face. They weren’t the least bit frightened of me. How cool!!! Speaking of, I don’t know if I ever mentioned the time Nicole and I went on a driving adventure in Tempe, and saw a zebra in someone’s back yard?

Not quite as cool as the deer, but definitely interesting, haha. Can you imagine owning a zebra? Anyway, now I’m sitting at Starbucks enjoying some hot coffee.

Ohhh, how I’ve missed you. Grande bold coffee, 2 pumps sf mocha, 1 pump sf caramel, steamed soy.

Also, I have some really exciting news! A couple of weeks ago, I finally did something that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, and I applied to be a FitFluential ambassador. I never thought in a million years that I would be accepted, but last night I received an email inviting me to join the team, and I am BEYOND thrilled!!! What an amazing opportunity to be a part of a community I value so highly with other bloggers that I admire. I am a lucky gal!

 

10 Days

I’ve been running for 7 months. I don’t run super often, and I definitely don’t run very well, or at a pace any faster than your average sea turtle, or snail.It’s not easy, and most days I am convinced I hate it until it’s over. From the moment I went on my first outdoor training run last October to now, I have never gone longer than 7 days without going out for a run of some sorts, and that was due to PT orders. Today marks day 10.

To be honest, the first few days I was so exhausted and out of it, that exercise was the last thing on my mind, but from the moment I got back to riding my bike, and my energy started to come back, all I have wanted to do is run. I read other blogs, or see posts on facebook or twitter, and I totally wish I was out there myself. I’ve tried running for about .2 seconds every day for the last 3 days. Every time it hurts immediately, and so I think to myself “Not today. Maybe tomorrow.” It’s weird, because it’s not like I’m injured. I keep feeling like I *should* be back already. I know that’s silly, but I’m just so mentally ready, and NYC training officially starts next week, when I officially land in much cooler perfect running temps, and I just want to be out there killing it, and making it happen. Anyone have some patience I can borrow? I seem to be fresh out ;)

Okay, now that I got that out, let’s focus on some more positive awesome things, yes?

  • Turns out, you don’t actually gain weight when you exercise less. As long as you eat a little less. I have a confession. I have asked Steve no less than 15 times since my surgery if I am getting fat and gaining weight. Of course he said no. Husbands can lie, but the scale can’t, and I know you will all be as thrilled as I am that I have not magically gained 30 lbs in my 10 days off running. I’m sure you’re as shocked as I am, because everyone is that irrational, right?
  • I’m almost back to my usual biking stamina! I did a 20 miler yesterday, and it was a little slow, and a lot hard, but considering just a few days before I could barely hold an 8 mph pace, and did less than 4 miles, I’m happy that biking now feels almost normal, and I have an other cardio love that I can focus on in the mean time.
  • I’m so happy to miss running! Honestly, who am I??? I am the person who wakes up every single morning and thinks “I don’t wanna….” and spends at least 5 minutes in a mental battle convincing myself that I will be glad I did. Then as soon as I start I’m always like “WTF was my problem?! I LOVE running!” Well not always, but often enough. Mid morning it was 100 degrees, and I found myself thinking “100 degree running wouldn’t be so bad…” I usually won’t go if it’s above 80. I’m so happy to have found a love and passion for something that is so great for my body, and so unexpected! I actually really really love it, and I cannot freaking wait to start some kick ass marathon training.
  • Speaking of marathon training, I am beyond giddy to be working with the most amazing coach ever!!! Not only am I convinced that Susan knows everything anyone could possibly know about running, but she is soooo nice! I was so touched and surprised to be getting emails from her asking about how I’m feeling when our training hasn’t even officially started yet! This whole opportunity just blows my mind every day. I am a lucky girl.
  • I registered for a different goal half marathon!!

    I trained really hard with a goal in mind for Seattle. It’s super lame that I don’t get to go for it, but this means I should be stronger, faster, and more prepared come August, and I’ll be going with several members of my team, so the entire experience should be really great!
  • And lastly, Sunday evening I will be reunited with a great friend that I haven’t seen in over 2 years! I haven’t seen Mandie since 2010, and she is doing AMAZING things at the Oregon Shakespeare festival, being a big fancy professional actor, which she totally deserves because she is talented, and wonderful, and so funny. She is one of my biggest runningspirations, and I have my fingers crossed to be able to actually go on a run with her, since back when we lived in the same place, she was always going on runs, and I always thought she was crazy ;)

Heath Bar Fro-yo

heathbarfroyo-12

Well, I guess whether or not we had a perfect 85 degree Memorial Day weekend, that is long gone, and summer is here to stay. Although, I’m not. Come Sunday, I will be on a plane to Oregon where I will be spending most of the summer! I get to do theatre in a beautiful location with some of the most amazing people. I cannot wait! But while I’m still here “enjoying” the triple digits, you better believe I am getting my fro yo fill.

Not that I need warm temperatures to eat frozen yogurt. We all know that it’s my weakness in any temperature. But there is something special about the cool treat in the hot weather, especially when it’s made at home.

And can we talk for a second about Heath toffee bits? Is there anything more delicious to put into a cookie, cupcake, bowl of cereal ice cream? They’ve always been one of my favorite additions. I used to make these super unhealthy cookies filled with white and dark chocolate chips, and ridiculous amounts of toffee bits that gave it a slight crunch, and made the whole thing taste like toffee. You should try it sometime. But keep them far away from me, because I will eat the whole batch. Then make more.

It’s okay, I have this bowl of deliciousness to keep me occupied. And it has Greek yogurt, so I can eat it for breakfast, and call it healthy. I love dessert for breakfast. I am totally my mother’s daughter. She never likes to eat her dessert at night. Instead, she saves it, and eats it for breakfast the next morning. She also loved ice cream. And chocolate. She’s basically me, with a New York accent.

Mom, come over and eat fro yo. Okay, actually, it’s all gone (I’m sure you’re shocked), but it honestly is the easiest thing to make ever, and it is basically fool proof. Even I can’t mess it up!

So, I know my house is not Yogurtland. I will never forget the first time I made frozen yogurt for my friends, and they asked me where the toppings were. But, I would say Heath and chocolate are among the best of toppings. And Yogurtland’s sprinkles suck. I love my sprinkles crunchy. I can’t stand a soft sprinkle. Is that weird? Do other people out there have a sprinkle preference?

Rainbow and crunchy. Or pink and crunchy. No chocolate sprinkles. Those are lame, and boring. Apparently, I’m a sprinkle connoisseur. That is because sprinkles go on fro yo (they may not be in the picture, but you better believe they made it onto my bowl), and I am, without a doubt, a fro yo connoisseur. And this fro yo is creamy, filled with delicious vanilla bean (if you’ve never used one, you don’t know what you’re missing!!), and the delicious crunch of one of the best candy bars around.

Heath Bar Fro-yo

yield 12 4oz servings

  • 3 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split length wise
  • 1/3 cup Heath toffee bits
  • 1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, and sugar. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into the bowl, and combine. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
  2. Freeze according to ice cream maker instructions.
  3. When yogurt is frozen, gently fold in toffee and chocolate chips before serving, or transferring to a container to freeze for later.

Work It Out 6/4-6/10

AKA Rest It Out. My daily mile page has never looked so sad. It’s okay. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. Surgery, or no surgery, my body needed a break. I had a trainer tell me a long time ago, that every 6 months or so, the best thing you can do is take a week completely off. Okay, maybe that actually is good for your body, but I’m one of those weird people who does not exercise for any reason other than I genuinely enjoy it. Well, maybe there are other reasons too–I’m a human, and I care about calories and all that crap, even if I wish I didn’t, but really the primary reason is that I really really love to do it. It makes me happy. It keeps me calm. It helps me think, and stay balanced, and it gives me so much more energy!

I didn’t take a whole week completely off, but I did take 4 days, and this week I am taking it easy too. Yesterday I tried to jump back into my life. I did an 8 mile bike ride (granted it was slow), baked cookies and cupcakes, tried to clean the kitchen, and tried to be social. By the end of the evening, I felt like absolute crap. Emotionally and physically. I’m stubborn, and I’m having a hard time with doing so little. I’m antsy, and anxious, and tired, and I really don’t feel like myself. Plus, you know, all the other side effects of surgery that are still very much here, and a digestive system getting used to an organ that used to be there suddenly being gone.

On the positive side, I am somewhat back to light exercise. No running yet, and I really freaking miss it. I’ve continued to cry and mourn  the loss of the sub 2 I’ve been chasing in Seattle. I decided for sure that I’m not doing the race. I’m just too tired. Walking still hurts. I don’t want to end disappointed. But I have an other half on the horizon later in the summer that I’m thinking just might be the one. Plus, it would be with my team which makes it even better!

Okay, enough babbling. This is how I (sort of) worked it out last week:

Monday: Run with Jas, & 5 MIN PLANK!!!!! I started the morning with a short run with Jason. We ran 2.4 miles by the green belt. I guess that’s what the trail by his house is called. It wasn’t his favorite morning, but it was good to be running together! When I got home, I decided today had to be the day. I knew I was gonna be out of abdominal commission for a while, and probably losing a lot of core strength from the moving around they do in there with their instruments, so I decided to do my 5 minute plank. It needed to happen. You know what? It was Fing hard! And it’s all mental. Just find someone to hang out with you, and force you not to give up. Then yell obscenities at them. Thanks for starting this 5 minute plank challenge, Ali! I don’t know if it was really supposed to be a challenge for the rest of us, but once you did it, I couldn’t resist! And thanks to my girl Devon for always keeping me honest about my planks!

Tuesday: Rest. My surgery wasn’t until 12:30, but Steve and my mom both vetoed my request to spin before hand. Rude. I guess it was something about the all day food and water fast that made them think it was a bad idea….

Wednesday: All day sleep daze. I was so exciting. I slept, woke up, watched 15 min of Lost, repeat.

Thursday: I left the house. Yes. It counts as exercise. I walked to Nicole’s truck, and into Paradise Bakery, and into fro yo. It was all I could handle, and I was exhausted by the end, came home and slept.

Friday: I walked around Target. It was hard, and I was tired, but I was so happy to be out of my house!

Saturday: 3.75 mile bike ride. At 8.7 mph. You know, like the pace you teach your 6 year old to ride at? It was awesome, and only slightly painful. I also walked a mile at the duck pond with Nicole and Stacey. I felt almost like a real person!

Sunday: 8.5 mile bike ride. I kept up a 12 mph pace!!! Watch out bike racers, Post Surgery Ari is on your tail!

 

Tell me awesome workouts you accomplished!!! Let me live vicariously through you!

Speculoos Cookie Dough Truffles

cookietruffles-1

Sometimes, you just need to eat raw cookie dough dipped in chocolate.

Okay, at all times I really need raw cookie dough dipped in chocolate. Who am I kidding? But, for some greater good, or something, I surpress my need, and save it for the days where I need a little pick me up.

Like, you know, when you find out you need surgery, and you’re going to miss out on the race you’ve spent the last 3 months training for. Wahhhh. It’s okay though, because these made me feel better. A lot better. Like in Ratatouille when that little rat takes the bite and the fireworks go off around him, and the whole world stops. I heart Pixar.

I would tell you that these are a huge problem. And they are were. I ate them all up. Problem solved. I am so good at solutions. Have a food problem? Here is the solution: Give it to me. Unless it’s strawberries. Or pineapple. Or beets. Yuck. Also, crisco, but is that even food???? It can’t be! It gives me the creeps. Some people I know keep pounds of it in their pantry. I have strange friends. ;)

Anyway, I made 3 kinds of truffles. When you’re indecisive like me, and you can think of a million ways that these truffles could taste good, it would be silly to choose just one. So I made some with fleur de sel (fancy for sea salt–don’t worry, you don’t have to spend $15 on your salt; regular sea salt will do), and I topped some with cinnamon chips, and drizzled white chocolate over the rest. The salted ones were my favorite. Shocking, right?

All I can say is you’re welcome. Or, I’m sorry. Depending on how you take eating a dozen truffles in one sitting….

Speculoos Cookie Dough Truffles

yield 1 1/2-2 dozen truffles

  • 2 tbs light whipped butter
  • 1/2 cup TJ’s Speculoos Cookie Butter (or Biscoff spread, or any other Speculoos spread you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate, melted
  • optional toppings: fleur de sel, cinnamon chips, white chocolate

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, beat together butter, cookie butter, vanilla and flour until well combined.  Cover and chill for 30min-1 hour.
  2. Roll dough into 1/2 tbs sized balls, and use a fork to dip and fully coat in melted chocolate. Set on parchment paper, and repeat with remaining dough.  Freeze for 1 hour to set, then keep in freezer or refrigerator.

Toppings:

  • If using fleur de sel, or cinnamon chips, top before freezing. Sprinkle fleur de sel on top, or place 2-3 small cinnamon chips into the top.
  • If using white chocolate, wait until set. Melt desired amount of white chocolate and drizzle lightly using a toothpick. Refreeze to set.

Look For The Silver Lining

IMAG0714

A week ago I wrote this totally rational, not at all dramatic post about how life as I knew it was over because there was no way I would be able to PR in Seattle, and possibly, not even be able to run it. It was truly one of my finer moments. Too bad I had the slight sense not to publish it ;)

That said, it hasn’t exactly been the best week for me. You may remember about 2 months ago, I had what I thought was the stomach flu. It totally messed up a long run and a race for me, and I even called in sick to work one day which never happens. After about a month and a half of not quite returning to normal, I finally went to the doctor to get everything checked out. I honestly expected that all of my tests would come back normal, and that I was just being overly sensitive, but when my doctor’s office called the same day of my ultrasound, I knew that something was probably wrong.

They told me I had gallstones, and needed to make an appointment with a surgeon to get my gallbladder removed. I was a little shocked, and more than a little frustrated that with all the effort I put into being healthy, I ended up needing surgery. The thing is, though, I get that some things are just out of our control, and my surgeon did tell me that this is something really common for people who have lost a significant amount of weight.

I met with the surgeon on Friday, and scheduled my surgery for the following Tuesday. They were great about getting me in, knowing that I would be leaving soon for 2 months. So this past Tuesday, I went in for my first surgery in about 20 years. I had my adenoids out when I was, like, 7. All I remember from that surgery is that the anesthesia made me really sick. Well, some things don’t change, but that was probably the worst of it.

The good news is, the surgery itself went very well. The doctor was done in an hour, and 3 hours later, I was released to go home. I woke up feeling much more pain than I anticipated, and I still am in a lot, but it’s surgery, and no matter how “easy” or “simple” laproscopic surgeries are these days, it’s still surgery, and it still hurts. I’m totally wiped out, and sleeping a lot, but luckily I have tons of family and friend support! Steve has been taking great care of me, and making me feel super loved.

 

He even found a Clementine balloon ;) Speaking of Clementine, the puppies have also been making sure I rest, and feel the love.

My phone has been kind of off the hook with family and friends wanting to see how I’m doing which is so appreciated. It’s really nice to know people care about how I’m doing. Today, Nicole even picked me up, and took me for a little excursion, and then I came home to these

Lisa, you sure know how to cheer me up!

You know you have great friends when they send you balloons because they live across the country and can’t see you in person! I have to say, as much as the situation sucks, and it does pretty much suck, the biggest silver lining is all the love and support I’ve received. Being sick isn’t soooooo bad when you have great people taking care of you and making you feel loved.

You know what else is kind of cool? These days, when you get surgery, they take pictures for you! I wanted to post some, but figured I’d spare you guys. What I can say is that these stones were ridiculous! Almost a dozen marble sized stones that have been giving me a rough time–I’m glad to say good bye to them! Peace out gallstones, you’re not welcome here anymore. In fact, who invited you in the first place? Not me. Coming in without an invitation…ummm rude. That’s okay, you’re gone now, and I am on the road to recovery. It feels like kind of a slow road right now, but that’s okay. I can be patient. No, that’s not a joke. I actually can be!

So that’s what’s been going on over here lately. Thanks again to everyone who has been super supportive, and made time to call/come by/etc the last couple of days. It means so much more than you realize!

Hoping I’m back to running and spinning ASAP!

BBQ Ranch Turkey Burgers

bbqranchburgers-1

Once upon a time, ranch dressing was my food of choice. Have I ever mentioned my undying love for french fries dipped in ranch? I actually used to eat cheese fries dipped in ranch. From Denny’s. Clearly, I’ve always been an example of clean, intuitive eating. What body doesn’t need cheese fries dipped in ranch?!?! Freaks. Weirdos. Crazies.

 

You know what else ranch is delicious on? Pizza. Is that weird? Maybe. I swear, unless it was ice cream, I put ranch on it. Ice cream is good enough on its own, I guess. Actually, it’s probably the only food I loved more than ranch and cheese. Mmmmmmmm, ice cream. Okay, but seriously. Burger. Barbecue. Bacon. Ranch. Heaven. Just like you’d find at any burger joint.

Only, you know, more delicious. And minus the side of heart attack ;)

This is one of my favorite ways to cook. Taking my favorite meals from my unhealthier days, and turning them into something equally (and often more) delicious that I can feel good about enjoying! I spent a long time thinking that eating healthy meant I had to give up everything I loved, and that healthy food would be gross, and unsatisfying, but I have proven myself wrong time, and time again. These burgers are no exception–they taste like comfort food, and leave you feeling energized, rather than weighed down. Perfect for summer!

BBQ Ranch Turkey Burgers

yield 5 servings

  • 20 oz lean ground turkey (at least 93%, but 99% ground turkey breast is the best)
  • 1 tbs egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs all natural barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion + more for topping
  • 3 slices center cut bacon, cooked and chopped + (extra slices for topping–optional)
  • freshly ground salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tsp ranch seasoning
  • 5 100% whole grain buns (whole wheat, brown rice, etc.), toasted

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, egg substitute, 2 tbs barbecue sauce, 0nion, chopped bacon, salt and pepper. Thoroughly combine, and form into 5 even patties.
  2. Grill until cooked throughout (approx 5 minutes per side). Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, and ranch seasoning. Mix until well combined.
  3. Place cooked patties on toasted wheat buns, then top with barbecue ranch sauce, bacon, onions, and any other desired toppings (lettuce, tomato, cheese, bell pepper, etc.)