CGST Spirit Day

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 2010

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

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

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

http://arismenu.com/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-bites/

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

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

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.

http://arismenu.com/bacon-cheeseburger-salad/

 

Tri Training Week 3

image (34)

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}

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

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.

http://arismenu.com/sweet-potato-black-bean-burgers-the-recipe-redux/

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

Or my Sun-dried Tomato & Basil White Bean Burgers




Drink & Dish: How to Make Cake Pops

How to Make Cake Pops: Easily made vegan and/or gluten-free

Extra soft, sweet and delicious cake pops will impress all of your friends, and are much easier than you think! Add fun themed decorations, or keep them simple. Easily made vegan and/or gluten-free. How to Make Cake Pops: Easily made vegan and/or gluten-free

Have I ever told you about the only ever time I tried to make a dessert in “pop” form? Well in total Ari fashion, I just thought about what a cake pop tasted like. I didn’t look up what it was made out of or how to do it, just blindly went for it. I was going for brownie pops, and I had the brilliant idea that I should under bake the brownies because cake pops always tasted so *the M word*. How to Make Cake Pops: Easily made vegan and/or gluten-free

Obviously it was a disaster. They were way too soft, and they just kept sliding down the stick. Then I tried to dip them in caramel sauce because I didn’t know you had to use melted chocolate or candy melts that actually set up instead of staying all gooey. I never tried again since until this past weekend. How to Make Cake Pops: Easily made vegan and/or gluten-free

I had the brilliant idea that I would make basketball cake pops for our March Madness episode of Drink & Dish.


The cake pop part actually went really well–so easy, and although it is time consuming, it would be fun to do again with friends/family. The decorating? Well, I think I gave myself high blood pressure trying to get it right! How to Make Cake Pops: Easily made vegan and/or gluten-free

Perfectionist + not good at visual arts = bad combination. In the end, the basketballs weren’t necessarily difficult  to make, but they were difficult to make look smooth/pretty. At the end of the day, they actually came out okay, but I’m ready to quit my day job and start a cake decorating business, that’s for sure. ;) How to Make Cake Pops: Easily made vegan and/or gluten-free

But let’s talk about cake pops because they are actually so easy if you give yourself a break. This is the time to cut yourself some slack, and I honestly recommend using *gasp* boxed cake mix. You can always modify the recipe (ex: sub applesauce for oil), but it’s just an easier start. You can also easily buy a vegan or gluten-free variety to suit your dietary needs. I used this gluten-free cake mix from Bob’s Red Mill. You simply bake up your cake, let it cool, mix it with frosting (again–use whatever kind you want to suit your diet), and then roll it into little balls. Freeze those puppies, then stick them on lollipop sticks. Then comes the time consuming part–dipping and lots of tapping which you can see on the video how to make sure you get all the excess coating off and make them look as smooth as possible.

For the coating you can use candy melts, dark chocolate, white chocolate, whatever you like! I recommend adding in a little coconut oil if you use chocolate to help smooth things out, but other than that, they all work about the same. Then if you choose to decorate, the options are endless! The best part? When you bring cake pops to a party, everyone is impressed and they disappear in seconds! Also? There is no comparison as far as deliciousness goes.

How to Make Cake Pops

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: varies, approximately 50 cake pops

Serving Size: 1 pop

How to Make Cake Pops

Extra soft, sweet and delicious cake pops will impress all of your friends, and are much easier than you think! Add fun themed decorations, or keep them simple. Easily made vegan and/or gluten-free.

Ingredients

  • 1 prepared 9 x 13" sheet cake or 2 8-9" rounds (equivalent of 1 boxed cake mix)
  • 3/4-1 cup frosting
  • 2 cups candy melts, or dark/white/milk chocolate + 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

Instructions

  1. Crumble cake into a large bowl. Add 3/4 cup frosting (you can eyeball it) and mix together with your hands. It's the easiest way--just have fun with it! Once mixed the cake should stick together and easily roll into balls. If it is too dry, add more frosting 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Roll dough into 1" balls and place on a large cookie sheet. Freeze for 30 minutes to set.
  2. Stick lollipop sticks into the center of each cake pop. One at a time, dip cake pops into melted candy or dark chocolate. I suggest using a large measuring cup for this step so it is easy to fully submerge the pop. Lightly tap the stick on the end of your glass while slowly twirling your pop to remove excess coating. This takes about a minute (see the video tutorial to see this process).
  3. To set, you may either buy a cake pop box or use a styrofoam block. Stick the pop into the styrofoam/box and allow to set. Repeat with remaining cake pops. Decorate as desired.
http://arismenu.com/drink-dish-cake-pops/

And be sure to check out Nicole’s delicious and refreshing Lemon Shandy as well!

Tri Training Week 2

Seeeeee?? So pretty.

This week was awesome for training! I was on spring break so I literally had the entire week to focus on my workouts. In fact, I feel like that’s all I did. And snuggle with my puppies. Oh and I started watching Parenthood on Netflix. Anyway, it was so nice to not have to stress about when to fit in training, and I feel like I had a great week because of it.

Also, I have muscles! Like, new ones I’ve never seen before! And my butt is getting bigger, and I have totally gained weight since I started crossfit. I’m trying not to stress because all my clothes still fit the same (and some better). I tend to be really skeptical when people say things like “Oh it’s probably just muscle!”, although in this case I just might be swayed to believe it. You know that muscle between your shoulders and neck where it always gets super tense and needs an elbow to massage it? Ummm, it’s bigger. And so is my shoulder. And I can flex my pecs and feel them move! Whaaaaaat?? I kinda feel like a man. Anyway, here’s how last week’s training went down.

Monday AM: 1 hour swim. I set a new swimming PDR and swam 2150 yards (half ironman distance!!!). I am still a snail, but I feel good about the new distance, and I got to a mile 5 minutes faster than I did the last (and only) time I swam a mile, so I am getting better. Slowly, but surely.

Monday PM: Crossfit. So I actually started a note in my phone to keep track of my crossfit workouts. I’d like to be able to track my progress and have some idea of what weights to use. I think they’re tired of me asking every.single.time. I wasn’t feeling super motivated on Monday, and I was sharing a bar with someone else so I kept the weight light and did 3 x 7 push press with 65 lbs. Then the workout of the day (still not committing to abbreviating…) was 30 pull ups / 400 meter run / 20 pull ups / 400 meter run / 10 pull ups / 400 meter run. I still can’t do 1 pull up, and they don’t do the whole band thing (no idea why…), so they let me cheat and use a low bar to cheat. It looks like this man. Because I was cheating and there was so much running involved, I finished first for the first (and probably last) time ever in 7:56. Pull ups are still my nemesis.

LOOK! I'm a real crossfitter now. I have the calluses to prove it!

LOOK! I’m a real crossfitter now. I have the battle wounds to prove it!

Tuesday AM: Crossfit. We’ve been doing these awful workouts on Tues/Thurs where there is a crap ton of stuff and you have 45 min to finish as much as you can. It is pretty terrible, but I’m sure it’s really good for me. Today was 3 x 250 meter row / 20 push ups (I used my knees…I’m a wimp) // 8 x 10 squat clean (rx was 65lbs, I did 45) / 15 dips / 30 overhead lunge (rx was 15 lbs, I did 10) // 1 mile run. I was one of THREE people that finished out of all the classes that day! Only one of those 3 did the rx. I felt totally awesome and told everyone that “I won crossfit”.

Tuesday AM: 2 hour bike + 20 min run. My legs were shot and it was one of those days where it felt like there was a headwind 100% of the time, but we got it done and cycled 27.7 miles, then ran 2. We finished around 12:30 and it was HOT. We both also forgot sunscreen and that was a…big mistake. Lesson learned. Also, 20 minutes seems like such a short time, but sometimes…it isn’t.

photo 4

Wednesday AM: Track. MY FIRST TRACK WORKOUT IN OVER A YEAR!!!! I literally had no been (or done anything more than fartleks) since I was training for the marathon! Of course the day I come back was 1 mile time trial day. I had no idea how fast to go right now, so I played it a little safe at the beginning and ran the first 3 laps almost exactly at 2:03-2:04, then we picked it up in the last lap and Nicole pushed me to the end and I ended up with 8:08. It’s not my fastest mile ever, but it’s still better than I expected and Coach Susan said she had expected me to be 10 seconds slower, so I was happy, but a little bit pissed that I hadn’t run 9 seconds faster. I am so excited to be back to speed training though, and I have that excitement about working hard and getting faster back. I don’t have to be afraid to run fast and work hard because I am FINALLY healthy (like feeling the best I have in a loooong time), and it is time to get BETTER than I was before!

Dutch Bros is a post-track tradition. It was still cold out, so Nicole and I sat in the car to gossip and have our drinks. You know you're from Arizona when 60 degrees is too cold to sit outside.

Dutch Bros is a post-track tradition. It was still cold out, so Nicole and I sat in the car to gossip and have our drinks. You know you’re from Arizona when 60 degrees is too cold to sit outside.

Wednesday AM: Crossfit. I came home from track and it was still early (track starts at 5:30). I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I went to crossfit. Yeah…I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  We did 5 x 5 sets of dead lifts for skill building. I had no idea where to start (like usual) so I started sharing with an other lady at 85 lbs and just kept adding until my last set was 165. I asked the coach what a good dead lift was and he said “150% of your body weight” to which I responded “OMG I need to get skinnier!” Whatev. I think 165 lbs is pretty good for my first time attempting them (other than learning how to do them with the bar in the very beginning). Then in a team of 3 we had to complete 800 meter run (with a 25 lb plate!), 150 squats,  1500 meter row, 75 sumo dead lift high pull, 75 burpees and 75 wall walks (of death). I did 400 meter run / 100 squats / 25 high pulls (at rx…even though for some reason it was only 65 lbs) / 25 burpees / 25 wall walks (of death). My team finished in 16:17.

Thursday AM: Swim intervals. Uggghhh. This was SO HARD. The only “speed work” I had ever done in the pool was swimming 25 yards fast and then waiting for like a whole minute and swimming back slooowwwwly. I found an interval plan online and just kinda went for it. I did a 200 (yards) warmup / 200 kicks / 150 yard pull / 200 build /50 recovery / 100 fast / 50 recovery /150 fast / 100 cool down. There was supposed to be 200 fast at the end, but I ran out of time, and decided this was sufficient for day one. I ended up with 1200 yards in about 40 minutes. Those kicks and pulls took soooo long and were so hard!

Friday AM: 70 min run. Nicole and I headed to Tempe Town Lake for a change of scenery. It’s beautiful in the morning, and there were tons of other runners and cyclists out. The first half of the run seemed like it was never ending, and I just wasn’t feeling it, but I finally warmed up and ended up with all negative splits again! We ended up with 7 miles in 1:11.

Seeeeee?? So pretty.

Seeeeee?? So pretty.

Friday AM: Yoga. I finally returned to yoga! It felt hard and awkward and my legs felt like they had never been stretched in a million years, but I was reminded how much I love it, and my body felt SO MUCH better afterwards. I need to make this a thing again. I have neglected it and my body needs it.

Saturday AM: 1 hour bike intervals + 10 min run. Today was one of those awesome days where I just felt great! We kept all of our intervals between 18.5-20 which is really good for me! An awesome end to a great week.

Sunday: Rest. Necessary.

Totals:

10 workouts, 11 hours of training, 63 miles (15 miles running, 47 miles cycling, 3,350 yards swimming), 1 4:30am wake-up that reminded me how much I hate waking up that early, 8 hours of exercise with my training buddy and we still haven’t run out of things to talk about. In fact, I don’t think it’s humanly possible for us.

 

YOUR TURN! Tell me about your training, your battle wounds, your favorite thing to talk about while working out…!

10 Blogs You Should Be Reading

Ummm, I read a lot of blogs. Some because I love the content, some because of the pretty pictures, and some because I love the person behind the blog. It can be super time consuming trying to keep up with all of them and support all of my friends all the time, but there are a few that are always, always worth it. I love them, and I think you will too, so I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite places/people to visit on the internet. I have no doubt you’ll love them as much as I do.

  1. The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie

    Okay, so Nicole is my BBFF (Blog Best Friend Forever) turned real life training buddy, YouTube co-host, and all around person I can tell anything, but in addition to those things, her blog is AWESOME! Great recipes, creative photo styling, and a totally readable and down to earth voice.

  2. Healthy Seasonal Recipes

    Katie has some of the most beautiful food photos on the web. She creates healthy dishes made of REAL food–no weird, fake, or difficult to find ingredients, but just flavorful, creative and healthy recipes. She gives tons of great cooking and nutrition tips, and she is hilarious, honest, and so real.

  3. Sugar Hero

    For the most impressive and beautiful desserts, Elizabeth’s blog is the place to be. She is always blowing me away with her detail and talent for making food look beautiful. Also, she is awesome. Reading her blog feels like having a conversation with your best friend. A great personality + beautiful food = the best of all worlds.

  4. The Nutritious Kitchen

    This blog is new to me, but I have fallen in such deep love. Every single recipe Selena makes looks absolutely amazing. She is an other REAL healthy food type, and every time I check out her list of ingredients I think “Hmmm, I wouldn’t change a thing!’ She is also super sweet and responsive with all of her readers.

  5. Running with Spoons

    I met Amanda at HLS when we were paired together as Almond Butter + Jelly at the cocktail party. I loved her immediately, and when I went home and checked out her blog, I loved her even more! Beautiful photos, great recipes, but most importantly a strong and inspirational voice that I could read all day long. Her blog is the perfect combination of food + life and I look forward to reading every post she writes.

  6. Cotter Crunch

    Lindsay has an awesome combination of fitness tips, gluten-free recipes, and inspiration. She is so incredibly positive that reading her blog always makes me happier. There is so much great content that goes beyond what you read in most blogs–she makes you think about life, and then appreciate how wonderful it actually is. She is also super supportive and the kind of person I want to be my friend forever and ever.

  7. Love Life Surf

    In my (humble) opinion, Christine writes the best content on the whole internet. She is a truly beautiful writer, and an even more beautiful human being. She talks about fitness and family,  but more importantly she shares her journey, and her inner thoughts in a way that makes you feel like you are growing right along with her. She puts that voice in your head that reminds you how powerful self reflection is. When I grow up, I want to be her.

  8. The Lean Green Bean

    Lindsay’s blog is so diverse. From fitness tips, to healthy recipes, to bringing you the best content every week with her Bean Bytes, there is always something new going on, and she shares healthy tips in a way that is so approachable and free of judgement. Her blog has gotten huge, but you’d never know it with how down to earth she is, and she is one of the most supportive people in the community!

  9. How Sweet It Is

    Sigh. My favorite blog of all time. Jessica has the most beautiful photos, creative recipes, and she is so freaking funny. I could read her writing all day. I am usually a photo skimmer, but I love reading her posts, and I want to make every single recipe she shares. I dream that one day I’ll be nearly a fraction as cool as she is.

  10. Pinch of Yum

    Wow, this is the third Lindsay I’ve mentioned. Apparently, if you want to have an awesome blog, change your name to Lindsay. Okay, but for real, she has some of the most gorgeous photos I’ve ever seen (and an amazing ebook if you want to make your photos better!), and some truly amazing resources for food bloggers to go along with it. The income reports are filled with great information, and every recipe of hers I’ve made (there have been a few!) has turned out absolutely amazing.

Of course,  these are just a few of my favorites. If you’re looking for more blogs I love, check out my blog roll that has a list of *almost* all my favorite peeps.

Okay YOUR TURN! What are your favorite blogs? Tell me what blogs you think I should be reading. 

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles { + Giveaway! }

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles: Healthy & gluten-free

Bright, citrusy, lemon gluten-free waffles stuffed with fresh blueberries. Slightly crisp on the outside; soft and pillowy on the inside. So good you’ll want to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles: Healthy & gluten-free

I almost never make breakfast. I mean, I do…it’s called Greek yogurt + a chopped apple + chia seeds + honey + granola, or occasionally oatmeal. That’s about as thrilling as it gets in these parts.

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles: Healthy & gluten-free

I do love breakfast foods, and whenever I find an excuse to host brunch, I always get nerdily excited about new pancake and waffle combinations I can create. You see, I am a morning routine person. I eat the same two things for breakfast every single morning, and it makes me feel good, like all is right in world. Yeah, yeah…I am a total freak about things that don’t matter. It’s cool.

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles: Healthy & gluten-free

So usually I eat things like eggs, waffles and pancakes for dinner. I love it. I get excited all day when it’s on the meal plan, and I’ve actually been trying to schedule breakfast for dinner in once a week lately. All because of these waffles. Because they were that good.

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles: Healthy & gluten-free

A couple of weeks ago, I invited my family over for dinner. When they came in and I announced that we were having breakfast for dinner, my mom was so excited. She couldn’t get over the idea (it seemed so foreign to her), and as we ate she told me that she felt like she was in a diner, but with better food. I love her.

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles: Healthy & gluten-free

I was so insanely happy with how these waffles turned out. Like, I even saved the leftover batter to make more when there was really only enough for one more waffle because they were just so crazy good. The bright lemon flavor shines and the blueberries almost melt into the waffle when smashed with the waffle iron.

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles: Healthy & gluten-free

They have that perfectly crispy waffle exterior while still being light and soft on the inside, and my family kept asking me if they were really gluten-free. Yes, they are. But you will never know. Of course (as always) you can sub in whatever flour you like, but I legit love this baking blend more than any other flour I’ve ever used.

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 waffles

Serving Size: 1 waffle

Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Waffles

Bright, citrusy, lemon gluten-free waffles stuffed with fresh blueberries. Slightly crisp on the outside; soft and pillowy on the inside. So good you'll want to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 small lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2/3 cup blueberries, preferably organic

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl whisk together baking blend, cornstarch, baking soda and sea salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, coconut oil, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and honey. Gently fold wet ingredients into flour mixture until just combined and some small lumps remain. Do NOT over mix. Gently fold in blueberries. Let batter stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat waffle iron and spray with nonstick spray. Transfer a heaping 1/4 cup of batter onto prepared waffle iron and cook until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately. Leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker

http://arismenu.com/blueberry-lemon-buttermilk-waffles/

But wait! There’s more! Some of my favorite bloggers and I are giving away a 3 piece Dansk Cookware set including a 6 quart casserole, 2 quart saucepan, and round baker. Giveaway starts at 12:00am EST March 12th and ends at 11:59 pm EST March 19th. Open to US residents age 18 and older.

Check out the other bloggers I’ve teamed up with:

Healthy-Delicious | Savvy Eats | The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie | Bakeaholic Mama | Always Order Dessert | Taste Love and Nourish | Little Ferraro Kitchen | Girl in the Little Red Kitchen | The Adventure Bite | Big Bears Wife

Tri Training Week 1

photo (34)

It’s been a loooong time since I shared a week of workouts. I actually really love talking about my training on here, but aside from when I’m training for something new and different, it starts to feel a little repetitive. Now, however, it is all new and different, so we’re back to training recaps. But don’t worry, there will be food tomorrow. ;)

So I’m training for the Esprit De She Olympic Triathalon on May 4th. I’ve actually kinda been training the last month, so this was more like week 5, but this was the first week I actually tracked everything, and the first week my favorite training buddy and I mapped out our schedule and followed it.

Monday: 1500 yd swim. OMG we have not talked about swimming yet. About a month and a half ago, I went to my first swimming lesson. All I knew how to do was not drown, and when the coach asked me to swim across the pool, I nearly panicked, and I didn’t think I’d even be able to make it one way. I’ve made a ton of progress since then (and even swam a MILE without stopping!!), but swimming is still by far my weakest area, and I am SLOW. Like, I thought I was a slow runner until I started swimming. 1500 yards takes me about 45 minutes. Also, I’m pretty sure Nicole swims almost double the length I do in the same amount of time, but it’s cool because I am SO MUCH better than when I started, and I have no place to go, but up!

Tuesday AM: Crossfit. We also haven’t talked about this much yet, but I drank the Koolaid, or whatever. I totally love it. I signed up for a Groupon in January, went through a month beginner workshop, and as much as I never feel as strong as anyone else there, and no matter how many pull ups I still can’t do, it kicks my ass in the best way possible, and I think I am getting pecs, so there’s that. ;)

Tuesday PM: 2 hour bike + 15 minute run. MY FIRST BRICK! Like, ever. We were so excited about it that we ran faster than any training run since marathon training! The long rides are my favorite part of training. They are supposed to be at an easy-ish pace, so Nicole and I chat the whole time, and it usually ends looking like this.

photo (35)

Wednesday AM: 45 min swim. This time I made it 1550 yards. Baby steps.

Wednesday PM: Crossfit. I should write this stuff down, because I don’t remember a single thing we do or how much weight I used…ever. Every class I go up to the teacher and I say “Can you please tell me how many pounds I should use?” I’m sure they love me. I think we were doing our 5 rep max for push press. Mine was 85 lbs. I have no idea if that’s good or not, so I’m gonna go with thinking I’m super buff. Except the girl I was sharing a bar with did 100 lbs, so my theory is most likely incorrect. Then there was a workout of the day which you people like to call WOD, but I don’t like the way that sounds. I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember I wasn’t last. I’m a little competitive. ;)

Thursday AM: 3 mile run. There was a pretty sunrise.

Thursday PM: Crossfit. Ugggghhhh. This was…less than fun. I vividly remember burpees where we had to jump over a bar and every time I jumped, sweat would drip onto the ground. It was so cute. Then at the end there was 100 push ups and I wanted to die.

Friday: 1 hour bike intervals + 10 min run. Would you believe I’ve never done an interval workout on the bike? I’ve taken plenty of spin classes, but this was my first time incorporating it into my training. It went surprisingly well, and although I literally felt like I was crawling when we started to run (I kept asking Nicole if I was actually moving), the whole workout felt surprisingly good!

Saturday: 6 mile run. It was uneventful other than the fact that I remembered how to actually pace myself, and we negative split every single mile, so that was nice.

Sunday: Rest. Brunch, food prop organizing. breakfast for dinner. The good stuff.

 

Totals:

11 workouts, 9.5 hours of training, 56 miles (11.5 miles running, 43 miles cycling, 3000 yards swimming), 1 inappropriate joke about Nicole’s cycling shorts, 1 almost peed my pants experience when I did not stop to use the bathroom because I was worried about our “transition time”.

Okay, please, pretty please, tell me funny and embarrassing stories from your training/life/friends’ lives.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Double Chocolate Banana Bread: Gluten-free, NO butter, NO oil!

Ultra soft and tender gluten-free chocolate banana bread filled with melty dark chocolate chips with NO butter or oil!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread: Gluten-free, NO butter, NO oil!

Do you know what the best thing about working at a school is? Spring break. And summer break. And winter break. And, you know, all of those bank holidays. But there is something about spring break that seems to come right when you need it. That moment when you think that pretty much any mundane task seems more appealing than teaching kids to sing and dance, which is usually awesome and fun.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread: Gluten-free, NO butter, NO oil!

So…it’s spring break! Aside from my training and finishing up a house project (it’s SO fun–I can’t wait to show you!), I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing and enjoying every second of it.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread: Gluten-free, NO butter, NO oil!

These are my favorite times to bake. A random day off? Perfect time for brownies! A morning with no workout planned? Double chocolate banana bread, obviously.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread: Gluten-free, NO butter, NO oil!

I used to feel really…blah about banana bread. I always expected it to be dry and chewy. Whenever I’d see it at a bakery, it just never looked soft and tender, but then I found a recipe I loved, and I haven’t stopped making it, or variations of it. I can’t believe I missed out on this magical treat for so long!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread: Gluten-free, NO butter, NO oil!

Last week I had some bananas sitting on my counter begging to be made into banana bread. I eat a lot of bananas, so they don’t get to that extra-ripe-not-at-all-appealing-to-eat-raw stage very often. This day, however, they were there, and they were calling my name and whispering sweet nothings about how they wanted to be combined with flour and chocolate and brown sugar. So…I caved.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread: Gluten-free, NO butter, NO oil!

I think this chocolate version might even be my favorite. The chocolate comes from both the cocoa powder (use Dutch process, pretty please), and the melty chocolate chips, and it’s flavor is only enhanced by a touch of espresso powder. This is optional, but I suggest it–it will not make your banana bread taste like coffee (although, add more and sub some buttermilk for coffee for a mocha variety…ooomg), but it brings out the chocolate flavor! The result is ridiculously soft, chocolatey and decadent. I brought the rest of this banana bread to work and my friend Denise said it was her favorite thing I’ve ever made. And let me tell you, I bring a lot of food to work, so you know this one’s a winner. ;)

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 12-16

Serving Size: 1 slice

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Ultra soft and tender gluten-free chocolate banana bread filled with melty dark chocolate chips with NO butter or oil!

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
  • 3 extra ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk*
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips*

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x5" loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, cocoa powder. cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and espresso powder. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together bananas, applesauce, sugars and vanilla until well combined. Stir in half the flour mixture, then buttermilk, then remaining flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about one hour. Set loaf pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Notes

*To make vegan, replace buttermilk with 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. *I used a combination of regular and mini chocolate chips. Either will work.

http://arismenu.com/double-chocolate-banana-bread/

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter: 1 ingredient & 10 minutes!

A delicious spread made simply with just one ingredient in less than 10 minutes. All the flavor of your favorite coffee drink in sweet and drippy almond butter form.

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter: 1 ingredient & 10 minutes!

Embarrassing story time. So we all know that I am not the most observant person in the world. In fact, if there were an award for least observant person, I think I’d have a pretty good shot at it.

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter: 1 ingredient & 10 minutes!

This is my best friend Jason’s favorite story to tell everyone we meet. He refers to it as “The Tootsie Roll Story”. I was 15 or 16 and we went to the grocery store together. When we came out, there was a man handing out tootsie rolls, and he asked if we’d like one. My immediate response was to ask if it was free. When Jason tells this story, he does a totally unrealistic portrayal of how I sounded. Jerk.

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter: 1 ingredient & 10 minutes!

The way I remember it, the man said yes. In Jason’s version he says “I guess…”. So I took a tootsie roll (never mind the fact that I totally went against everything my mom taught me and took candy from a stranger…), and as we were walking away Jason tells me the guy was taking donations.

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter: 1 ingredient & 10 minutes!

I was so embarrassed, and I asked if I should go back and apologize, but Jason was even more embarrassed by me and rushed me into the car. Hahaha…oyyyyy. The point is, I am totally unaware of my surroundings, and also I really love free things.

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter: 1 ingredient & 10 minutes!

So when the awesome people at Blue Diamond were giving out actually free samples at Healthy Living Summit, I took, um…quite a few. I knew I wanted to use them to make some unique flavored nut butters, and I finally got around to putting them to use–specifically the caramel macchiato flavor. Just like when making honey roasted peanut butter (or honey roasted macadamia butter–my favorite!), all you have to do is throw in the one ingredient, scrape down the sides a few times, and let your food processor do the work! The result is a creamy, drippy, sweet almond butter with the bold flavors of caramel and espresso. Totally addicting.

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons

Caramel Macchiato Almond Butter

A delicious spread made simply with just one ingredient in only than 10 minutes. All the flavor of your favorite coffee drink in sweet and drippy almond butter form.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place almonds in your food processor. Blend until a smooth nut butter forms. First, almonds will break down to a flour, then form a big ball. This will take about 5-7 minutes. Scrape down the sides and give food processor a break as necessary. Continue to blend until smooth and creamy, about an other 3-5 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to one month, or in a cool, dry place for 2-3 weeks.
http://arismenu.com/caramel-macchiato-almond-butter/