CGST Spirit Day

Something many of you know about me is that all the way into my late 20’s (yuck), I pretend to be a little kid every summer and go away to summer camp. I could give you a long story about why it actually makes adult sense, but really, I’d probably go even if it didn’t. If you’ve ever been to summer camp then you know it’s one of the best times of your life. You laugh, you cry, you spend hours trying to explain these magical weeks of your life to the outside world who inevitably don’t understand or find any humor in the inside jokes you’ve explained 5 zillion times.

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

What you might not know about me is that I went through a pretty serious depression in my teenage years. I was sad all the time. I hated myself, and I felt like I had the hardest time making friends. I had gone away to one camp when I was 11 or 12 that was a Jewish sleep away camp and it was….not a good experience. Let’s just say I didn’t leave with any of those warm, gushy feelings I just described, and I left with even less confidence than before I came, something I didn’t even think was possible. It’s hard being a teenager (and pre-teen) when you are significantly overweight, not comfortable socially, and feeling overwhelmingly sad for reasons you can’t even begin to explain.

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

It’s kind of funny–there are two places that literally changed my life. Places where I made friends, felt like I belonged, and began to discover myself (not this version of me that was taking up residence for far too long), and for the first time started to feel included in something. I now work for both of those places–something that was a life long dream. They made such a great impact that I literally could not wait for the day when I could give that back to kids facing the same struggles I faces. Those places are NSAA (my real-life job) and CGST (my summer getaway job).

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

Urinetown the Musical 2012

As the economy has changed since I was a teenager about a zillion years ago, summer camps have become much more difficult for families to afford. I have to admit that I was incredibly lucky to grow up in a family that could afford to send me to camp and give my private voice lessons and take me to the theatre. I didn’t understand just how lucky I was until I grew up and began to see how many people didn’t have those same opportunities. In my dream world, I would be a millionaire, and I would send all the hard working, talented and wonderful kiddos I know away to have a life changing experience, but that’s not usually what happens when you choose education and performing arts as your career. ;)

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

Today we are having a world wide spirit day for my very favorite place on earth to raise awareness, and spread the word about our current scholarship fundraiser. This scholarship fund can give kids an opportunity they would never have otherwise. For those of us that truly love theatre, we know how special an opportunity to take classes while connecting with other artists is, but what we may not know is how special this particular opportunity to feel safe, loved, and like we belong to a family is. I wish I could explain to you the feeling of family and community that comes along with a summer spent at CGST (and a lifetime of being a part of the community there after), but it would be like trying to explain with you the inside joke of why it will always be funny when Mac and I say to each other “Feels like an Arby’s night”. You’d just have to be there to really get it. And as far as the joke goes, we’re not that funny (except to each other), so you probably wouldn’t even get it if you were there.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

Anyway, what I’m asking today is that you all help me spread the word about this incredible place and our scholarship fund. If you’re moved and want to donate a dollar or two, that’s awesome! If you want to share the info with your friends who have kids interested in theatre (they get to learn from me which obviously is the best part! ;) ), then send the info their way, or even if you just live today with a little more openness and dedication to making others feel included–that is what this place is all about!

CGST Staff 2012

CGST Staff 2012

Love these girls!

Love these girls!

Group photo 2010

Group photo 2010

Here are all the ways you can show support!

Disclaimer: This is anything BUT a sponsored post! The executive and artistic directors don’t even know I’m writing it. It’s just something I wanted to share because I believe so strongly in this place, and I hope to reach out to someone who loves theatre too, so it can change their life the way it changed mine.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Healthy, simple and easy no-bake cookie dough bites packed with peanut butter flavor, sweetened with pure maple syrup, and chock-full of smooth, rich dark chocolate chips. Vegan, gluten-free, and easily made paleo!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites: A healthy treat made from simple, no-bake, wholesome ingredients

I have mixed feelings about cookie dough. I know, I know. I feel like the problem is that while healthier substitutions taste just as good once they are baked, you can taste things like apple butter in dough, and it definitely doesn’t taste like real butter. It’s crazy that once it bakes it can really serve the same purpose, but in dough it stands out like a sore thumb.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites: A healthy treat made from simple, no-bake, wholesome ingredients

But ya know what? Throw in peanut butter, almond meal and coconut oil, and they fill these babies with healthy fat and don’t skimp on a single ounce of flavor! Combine that with the deliciously rich flavor of pure maple syrup and chocolate (which speaks for itself), and you’ve got a dreamy little cookie dough bite that you can even justify as a healthy snack.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites: A healthy treat made from simple, no-bake, wholesome ingredients

I brought these over for dessert one night when I was hanging out with the boys, and they literally disappearing in seconds. They are wholesome and natural enough to appeal to the health lovers in your life, but decadent enough to pass as dessert for kids and adults alike!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: approx 15

Serving Size: 1

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Healthy, simple and easy no-bake cookie dough bites packed with peanut butter flavor, sweetened with pure maple syrup, and chock-full of smooth, rich dark chocolate chips. Vegan, gluten-free, and easily made paleo!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or almond butter/any nut butter of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened but not melted
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • small pinch sea salt
  • scant cup mini dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla until mostly combined. Add almond meal and sea salt. Use your hands to mix ingredients together. Once dough is mostly formed add chocolate chips and incorporate.
  2. Roll dough into 1-1 1/2" balls (or however large you'd like them). Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

Recipe lightly adapted from Perry's Plate

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Today I’m linking up with a couple of awesome bloggers, so if you love maple syrup as much as I do, please check their posts out too!

MapleRecipes

Maple Chipotle Flank Steak Tacos from Katie @ Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Boozy Maple Bacon Jam (OMG!!!) from Julianne @ Yankee Kitchen Ninja

Maple Pecan Coconut Granola Bars from David @ Spiced

Healthy No-Bake Maple Banana Cookies from Dara @ Cookin’ Canuk

Maple Custard Ice Cream Sandwiches (OMG AGAIN!!!) from Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama

Got a maple syrup recipe of your own to share? Feel free to link it up below!

And if you’d like to see more cookie dough bites check out these:

Coconut Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad

This bacon cheeseburger salad is a quick, healthy and delicious way to get your burger fix. Gluten-free, grain-free, packed with flavor, and it all comes together in just 30 minutes!

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad: A quick & healthy way get your burger fix!

I used to have this big aversion to bunless burgers. I just never found ground beef to be super appealing, and I just felt like it was weird. Well, since (mostly) giving up gluten in support of my husband, I’ve eaten a lot more bunless burgers, and ya know what? I really liked it. Like, I didn’t miss the bun. I didn’t wish there was a gluten-free bun. I just enjoyed burgers on their own.

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad: A quick & healthy way get your burger fix!

The biggest problem is figuring out how to eat them. Obviously I’m not picking it up, and a fork and knife does the trick, but it’s hard to get all of the ingredients (I’m a toppings gal) in one bite. Side note: Have you guys ever seen the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces? With Bette Middler? And she tries to find “the perfect bite” in her salads? Totally me. Gosh I love that movie, and I should be embarrassed because it’s beyond cheesy, but I don’t even care.

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad: A quick & healthy way get your burger fix!

So I threw everything into a huge salad, and it worked out into may perfect bites. Plus I snuck some green in there. Way more than you normally get on a burger. And I may or may not have cooked the onions in the same pan as my bacon. That’s a polite way of saying I cooked them in bacon fat. I am a disgrace to healthy living, but ya know what? It was SO worth it, and I recommend you do the same thing. It’s cool, it’s a salad. And it’s center cut bacon, so the fat is, like, not really there, right?

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad: A quick & healthy way get your burger fix!

I topped mine with a light ranch dressing. I would also suggest thousand island, bleu cheese, or just ketchup and mustard.

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 large salads

Serving Size: 1 salad

Bacon Cheeseburger Salad

This bacon cheeseburger salad is a quick, healthy and delicious way to get your burger fix. Gluten-free, grain-free, packed with flavor, and it all comes together in just 30 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef (93% or higher)*
  • generous pinch salt and pepper
  • generous pinch burger seasoning*
  • 8 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced and grilled (or caramelized, or cooked in remaining bacon fat for a real treat)
  • 8-10 cups chopped romaine (or lettuce of choice)
  • 1 1/3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 dill pickles, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • dressing of choice

Instructions

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add ground beef and season with salt, pepper, and burger seasoning. Cook until beef is browned and no pink remains stirring constantly, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. To serve, either toss everything together in a large bowl, or plate separately layering lettuce at the bottom, topping with veggies, meat, then cheese. Drizzle with desired dressing. Serve immediately. To store left overs, keep meat, veggies and cheese separate. Reheat meat then layer as when originally served.

Notes

*Ground turkey may be substituted. *I use a store-bought burger seasoning. I have also used a chop house seasoning, or I throw in everything inside of my pantry. Feel free to use any/all of your favorite spices.

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Tri Training Week 3

We made it! This week was tough and looooong and I was kind of over it by Thursday, but there were definitely some great things that happened including our longest brick workout, some faster than usual running, and finally starting to get double unders in crossfit.

The question of the week (well really of the last two weeks) is this: Is a brick workout one workout or two? I think my first week I counted them as two, but last week I counted it as one. Nicole says it’s two because you are changing sports, but I kinda feel like since it all happens at once it’s one. So please weigh in and tell me your thoughts because it’s obviously crucial that I calculate just how many times I worked out properly. Priorities people.

Anyway, here’s a look at how this week went down:

Monday AM: 2,250 yard swim. A new record in the pool! This was definitely the strongest I’ve felt swimming, and it was actually enjoyable. Success.

Monday AM: Crossfit. I don’t know what my deal was, but I was not feeling it by the time I got to crossfit. We were doing sets of 5 dead lifts again, but this time I could only do 155 lbs, and I was pissed that it was lower than last week. I just didn’t feel super strong and capable, and I didn’t understand why after just having a rest day I couldn’t get my act together. Then the workout of the day was 2 minutes / 90 seconds / 1 minute each of kettle bell swings, double unders, burpees and squats. We got 1 point for every move we did, so pretty much every time we got to double unders my score just stayed the same. Okay, I got a total of 2 in the 3 and a half minutes I spent attempting them. The rest was fine, but I was just mentally kinda blah about the whole thing.

Tuesday AM: Crossfit. Okay, so this was the day I realized I needed an attitude adjustment. I went in still mentally frustrated from the day before, and I looked at the board and I just wanted to give up. The workout was one of those 45 minutes to finish as much as you can and the first round was 3 x 50 double unders / 15 pull ups / 15 burpees. Then underneath it said there was no substitutions for double unders. So basically I assumed I would spend 45 minutes trying to get a total of maybe 10 double unders, and I just wanted to go home. And I kind of wanted to cry. Except I know crossfit is not the place for my emotionalness, haha.

So I whined and bitched and was super negative, and I begged the coach to let me start at the end (which included running!) and work backwards, but he was insistent. The workout started and I was just getting frustrated, but then he came and sat by me and gave me some pointers, and all of the sudden I did one! He had me do single, single, double, and the rhythm was starting to work! Then once I got 10 like that, he taught me how to put them together (I was stopping after every double because I couldn’t figure it out). So the coach told me I could do 30 the first round, then 40, then 50. I made it through ALL OF THEM (and shocked myself!) then went back to finish the 30 I had gotten out of. By the end I could even do a few with only one single in between! I must have jumped rope something like 1,000 times and I was SO TIRED. I even made it one round through the next section which was 15 hang clean & jerk (I used 55lbs) / 30 sit ups.

I was by far the furthest behind of everyone in class, but for once I didn’t care! I had never done more than 2-3 double unders and this was a huge step for me! I can’t believe I went in with the “I can’t” attitude. That is so not me, and I am so grateful for tough love, and a coach that wouldn’t let me get away with it!

Tuesday PM: 2:15 bike + 20 min run. 

image (34)

Whoot! Our longest brick yet! It has been super windy in the afternoon, and this was no exception, but our pace was decent (our plan calls for these to be pretty slow/easy effort), and our run was actually really fast (for me)! In fact, we usually run very close to a 10 min/mi so I assume 20 minutes = about 2 miles, but my garmin buzzed and we still had over a minute left, which doesn’t seem like much, but I was so tired at this point that I was so annoyed with myself for having to run further, haha. We ended up with a little over 33 miles on the bike and a little over 2 miles on the run. Also, when I walked in the door, there were steaks on the grill and sweet potatoes in the oven. My husband is perfect.

Wednesday AM: Track. The workout today was 6 x 800s at half marathon pace / 10k pace /5k pace /repeat. Our splits ended up being 9:07, 8:57, 8:21, 9:02, 8:47, 8:12. All arguably faster than I could run any of those distances right now, but I just decided it was okay and that I was with all of it–especially that last one. ;) I am SO HAPPY to be back to speed training, and hopefully get back to where I was during marathon training.

Wednesday AM: Crossfit. This was by far my favorite crossfit workout of the week! I finally went in and felt good about what I was able to do. Like, actually good, not just I survived good. We did 5 x 3 push press, and by my fourth I made it up to 90 lbs and it felt heavy, but I felt solid. I decided to try 100 lbs for my last set, and I got 2 of them, but them I just couldn’t make the third happen, but I didn’t even care. I was pretty ecstatic that I lifted 100 lbs over my head at all! I felt like super woman. The workout of the day was 21/18/15/12/9/6/3 clean (rx was 95 lbs, I used 65 lbs) // sit ups. I felt great throughout the whole thing and was the first one in my class to finish in 12:15! I love being first. ;) It almost never happens, so when it does I never shut up about it.

Thursday AM: 1,000 yard swim. So I just wasn’t feeling it today…at all. My arms were sore, I was exhausted, I didn’t want to be at the pool. I made a deal with myself that I would go easy and get in about 30 minutes. Well, I swam super slow, but got 1,000 yards in and decided that today that would just be good enough.

Friday AM: 1 hour bike intervals + 10 min run. It’s funny, Nicole and I were on the bike and she admitted to me that this was always her least favorite workout of the week, and I told her that it’s my favorite! I look forward to it! Even if I’m tired the night before, I get excited to do our bike intervals. Today we had 3 intervals that were 20+ mph which I was super excited about, and our run afterwards even felt pretty good. I don’t know, I just love bike interval brick day. ;)

Friday AM: Yoga. Ugghhh you guys, yoga is hard! I thought that it would feel easier these days since I’m stronger, but the control and holding positions is so hard! It felt great, though. Except, I still hate savasana. Is that how you spell it? I feel like it should be spelled shavasanah. That’s how I spell it in my brain.

Saturday AM: Long run. 

photo (37)

We went with BTB up to La Grande Orange and ran up there which was awesome because it meant breakfast afterwards! I spend 90% of my time running thinking about what I’m going to eat afterwards, and I love LGO (ps: they have literally the best gluten-free pizza for those of you in the area). This run was tough. Usually everyone passes me immediately and I am left in the dust, but for some reason Nicole and I just kept waiting for everyone to pass us and it never happened. Then we tried to keep up with people to have company, and we ended up running a good 15 seconds per mile faster than usual which was both awesome and, well, hard. We ended up with a little over 8 miles in 1:20 (yeah…my faster is still pretty slow, but it’s cool).

Sunday: Rest.

Totals:

10 (12?) workouts, 11:30 hours of training, 66 miles (16 miles running, 48 miles cycling, 3,250 yards swimming), 4 mysterious crossfit bruises that make Steve worried about what people are going to thing when they see me, and my first time feeling naked in the pool. I did it. I took off my swimming shorts and braved my cellulite in just my swim suit. I don’t like it and I keep apologizing to Nicole for my butt, but I was starting to feel those dumb things drag behind me, and my need to be better runs even deeper than my need to cover up. ;)

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers with Cilantro Avocado Cream {The Recipe ReDux}

These bold, flavorful and filling veggie burgers will turn the meat eaters in your life into veggie burger believers! Vegan, gluten-free, packed with flavor and smothered with cilantro avocado cream.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers: Bold, flavorful, vegan & gluten-free

I’m pretty sure I’ve told you before that there are a few items I always scan the menu for when I go to a new restaurant. Black bean burgers, sweet potato and goat cheese. I didn’t put any goat cheese on these, but you absolutely should. It makes all things better. Not that these need to be made better because they have 2/3 of the trifecta,  but there is nothing wrong with adding element #3.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers: Bold, flavorful, vegan & gluten-free

What I’m trying to say is I’m sorry I didn’t use goat cheese, but I made an avocado cream, so you’ll have to forgive me. It is fabulous on it’s own. With a spoon, with a chip, with your finger…

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers: Bold, flavorful, vegan & gluten-free

But even that amazingness doesn’t compare to the combination of roasted sweet potato puree with black beans, spicy chipotle peppers, and sweet corn and cranberries! OMG. Okay, don’t think I’m weird. Cranberries totally belong. The burst of sweetness pairs perfectly with the sweet potatoes, and it is really what takes these babies to the next level.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers: Bold, flavorful, vegan & gluten-free

The theme this month for The Recipe ReDux is patties, and I just knew it was the perfect time to share these with you. They are perfect to make for any occasion and since they’re vegan and gluten-free almost anyone can eat them!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers {The Recipe ReDux}

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: approx 12 burgers

Serving Size: 1 burger

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers {The Recipe ReDux}

These bold, flavorful and filling veggie burgers will turn the meat eaters in your life into veggie burger believers! Vegan, gluten-free, packed with flavor and smothered with cilantro avocado cream.

Ingredients

  • 2 x 15 ounce cans black beans, drained
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, roasted and skins removed
  • handful fresh cilantro
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • generous pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 x 15 ounce can corn, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats (use certified gluten-free if desired)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the cilantro avocado cream:
  • 2 large avocados
  • handful fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Set aside 1/2 cup of black beans. Place remaining beans, flesh from sweet potatoes, cilantro, chipotle peppers, cumin, salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. Heat olive oil on a large skillet over medium heat. Form mixture into patties and carefully transfer to the skillet. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until the bottom is browned and set. Do not flip too quickly or your burgers will fall apart. Very carefully flip and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes until the opposite side is browned and set as well. Serve immediately topped with cilantro avocado cream (see instructions below), or store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  3. To make the cilantro avocado cream, place pit and skin avocados and place with cilantro in a medium bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Notes

Feel free to serve on buns, lettuce, or crumble into a salad. I served mine on fresh lettuce with sprouts and green onion.

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Looking for more delicious veggie burgers? Check out my Chipotle Black Bean Burgers!

Or my Sun-dried Tomato & Basil White Bean Burgers