I am a twenty-something, living a life full of misadventures in the Detroit area. I intend to blog about life here, fitness, the hunt for place and purpose, and anything else that comes to mind...
I speak my mind. Anything here is mine and mine alone.
Fall makes me want to bake. Well, it makes me want to bake even more than usual. I looooooove baking. I am that girl who randomly brings baked goods into the office (well, I was when I had an office) just because I had the urge to bake.
Going gluten free and paleo really seemed to take the joy of baking away from me. 'Gluten-free All-purpose' flour is not really a good thing.. It replaces wheat flour with all kinds of rice starch, potato starch... still going to spike the heck out of your blood sugar (of course it is, it's going into baked goods), and leaves you with a weird grainy texture.
In my hunt for baking recipes, it was hard to find 'traditional' things... sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, etc. Ok, Elena's Pantry has a great brownie recipe. But there was no simple, classic, GOOD chocolate chip recipe. Everything out there was 'hazelnut chocolate chip', or 'maple bacon chocolate chip'. They sound good, but they aren't what I want. And the few plain chocolate chip cookie recipes I could find weren't quite.. right.
So last night, I was feeling a bit blue, and I decided to bake. I had modified a recipe earlier that got me very, very close to what I wanted, and I decided to give it one more try. When I tested the final product, I declared to my husband that, "I win paleo chocolate chip cookies." He agreed, and also declared these 'dangerous'. And the best part of all? They really aren't that complicated!!
I did grind my own almond flour using a NutriBullet my mom got me (we don't have the dry blade for our Vitamix). This yielded a finer flour than Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour - and at half the cost! - but you should be fine using whatever almond flour you prefer.
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 C. almond flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. honey
1/2 C. grassfed butter, softened
1/2 - 3/4 C. dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.
Put almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Use a fork to mix until well blended.
Add vanilla, honey, and butter. Use a hand mixer on low to blend all ingredients together. Dough will be very wet.
Scoop dough by rounded teaspoon onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. (Leave room, these cookies will spread!) I did 9 per sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Be sure to let them cool either on the pan, or lift the parchment paper onto a cooling rack! At 8 minutes, these will be soft, but much more crumbly when handled. At 10 minutes, they had a tiny bit of crunch and did not fall apart (my perfect cookie).
Yields roughly 20 cookies... try not to eat them all at once!
Last Sunday, I ran my third Half Marathon of the year. The race itself was chosen for me by a friend who wanted to run her first Half. Surprise, surprise, I registered, her life got super crazy, I ran alone. The good news is that I didn't regret it.
She chose the Capital City River Run Half Marathon in Lansing, MI. It was billed as a flat, fast course through the Michigan State Campus and "featuring paved trails, parks, and scenic treks along rivers and through beautiful wooded areas" including the Lansing River Trail. It did not disappoint.
Lansing is about an hour and fifteen minutes from home. After driving to Ann Arbor for packet pickup and a teeny-tiny 'expo' the day before that Half, driving back home, driving to the race, driving back home all in about 36 hours, I didn't really want to drive to Lansing just for packet pickup, and it wasn't far enough away to justify a hotel stay (especially with a dog at home and an 8:30 start time). Luckily, they offered packet pickup race morning.
Sunday morning dawned bright and early. Actually, at 5 a.m., when I got up, it hadn't quite 'dawned' yet. In standard race morning fashion, I couldn't really eat a thing. I had coffee to get thing moving, and a nuun to get hydrated. We hit the road and by the time we got to Lansing, the sun was up. We found parking and headed toward the Lansing Center for packet pickup.
I was impressed and grateful for the use of the Lansing Center. It was a chilly morning, but with an entry list of maybe 2,000 for both the Half Marathon and the 5k, there was room for everyone to stay warm, hydrate, de-hydrate, and re-hydrate inside the Center. (In Indianapolis, this is probably an option, but I found myself on the wrong side of the corrals to enter the Convention Center.)
I grabbed my bib and shirt and snagged a corner of floor to get ready.
Pre-race munchies! Gatorade and Bonk Breaker bar! (Plus a PowerBar Performance Blend)
Luckily, my husband is willing to tote around a bag full of pre- and post- race possibilities, so I changed from sweats into my shorts and t-shirt, laced up my Inov-8s, grabbed some munchies and Gatorade, stretched and headed out to line up.
The start line was a bit funny in that the 5k and Half Marathon started at the same spot, but rather than having a staggered start, the Half would head off to the East, while the 5k would head off to the West. Thankfully, the race announcer did a good job reminding everyone which was to face.
I lined up right after the National Anthem. This was the first time I've been to a Half with pacers, so I placed myself in an ambitious position in hopes that I could use the pacers to push my time a bit. They had a start line photo drone, which prompted more than a few NSA jokes, and then off we went!
Due to an inability to agree with Michigan State, the course had changed at the last minute, but that probably was a good thing. I think this ultimately shortened the first, most boring portion of the race, and kept us on paved trails a bit longer.
The course was pretty! I would describe it as more rolling than flat. No hill was challenging, but there were frequent ups and downs. There were also several sections that were on boardwalks, they were fun, but I did notice that the give and bounce of the boards may have added a tiny bit of leg fatigue.
I was super impressed by the volunteers and residents. Quite a few people had come out to cheer family or friends and made sure to cheer for the rest of us too. Definitely a big help! There was one section where the course made a loop and then crossed back on itself, causing two-way traffic. The first time I ran this, only a few people reacted to each other. On the second, I decided to high-five and cheer for anyone passing me who would accept it. Probably my favorite moment. People went from faces of agony to smiles, and I felt a new burst of energy to go with it.
The finish reminded me of the Mini Marathon, but on a 2k participant scale instead of 35k. We crossed over a bridge and descended down into the park where the finish line party was happening. People were cheering, music playing, etc. I saw my husband, who had found a great spot to watch me finish, gave a last burst of energy across the line, grabbed my medal and headed off to celebrate #3!
Finishing with a lovely "I'm tired and running downhill" heelstrike!
My overall impression of the race was good. Things were well-organized, the course was pretty, and not too crowded. The pacers all wore costumes, which made them easy to spot. I would've loved to see a few more water stations. I think there were maybe 6 total... it seemed like they were every 2-3 miles. It was 55*, but I'm a sweater and I like running hands-free. Otherwise, I had no real complaints about the race itself.
My performance is another story... I had the pre-race need-to-pee (I hate my body. I can pee 10 times, and still will 'need' to pee right before go time), but the line at the final port-a-pot was way too long. I figured I'd peed enough and it would go away. It did not. For the first time ever in a race, I had to stop and pee. I'd had a very good pace prior to this, staying in sight of the 10:00 pacers. When I came back out, I was behind the 10:30 pacers, and would never manage to pass them.
This race hurt. It was a struggle. I've been insanely beyond stressed lately with our normal life conditions, the job loss and subsequent financial worries, and my FIL's Parkinson's diagnosis and trying to properly be there for my husband. I've hated running in the summer heat, fallen short on several training runs, and overall felt like I was accumulating too much fatigue. I could feel it race day. I wanted to quit several times. But didn't. I did walk at the last two water stations simply because I got tired of getting water up my nose (seriously, 3 Half Marathons and I can't not get it up my nose). At one point, I started losing the mental game big time. A dirty voice in my head kept telling me, "You're not going to PR, you're so far behind pace, you're tired, just give up. It doesn't mater. Just walk. You won't PR."
I honestly thought back to this amazing comic from The Oatmeal and thought, 'Fuck you, blergh'. I felt much more drained by this race than my last two, and yet there's a partially insane side of me that wants to find another one in October and run, run, run. I'm also considering running my first full marathon in April, so part of me says back off the training, take it easy until mid-November, when marathon training would commence. There's a big part of me that thinks if I could just get a job and thus an income, I'd be happier with all of this, less stressed, and I could do both!
Regardless of fatigue, stress, and drama, I finished in 2:21. Yeah... Right smack in between my Mini time of 2:20 and my Ann Arbor time of 2:25. I guess if nothing else, I am consistent. So overall, I didn't quit, I didn't listen to the Blergh, and my time wasn't too bad. I'd call that a win.
Happy unofficial start of Fall! I looooooove Fall. Sweater weather, fire pits, hard ciders, regular ciders, crunchy leaves, mums, everything. Lucky for us, we were rewarded with cooler weather starting on Labor Day. Obviously helpful for running, this was also a big help since we needed to have our windows open. Why?
We built a table!
Yup. I finally have a dining table. And it's basically my dream table. Except it cost me about $150 at Home Depot instead of costing $1700 at Crate and Barrel like I always believed it would. We followed the instructions found at ana-white.com, here.
It was definitely a two-day project, in part because some of the glued and stained portions took a while to dry, and in part because we had to make a few trips to HD, but it was much easier than I thought. And now, I have a dining table!! The husband and I can actually sit and enjoy a meal and conversation rather than eating on the couch, ignoring each other, while the dog stares and begs.
Our table ready to host its first meal!
So, what better to do with a new table? A new meal! I took some rough inspiration and came up with this (very easy) recipe for Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers. If you're a cheese eater, use cheese. If not, don't.
Paleo Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers Ingredients
1 lb chicken breast
2 Green bell peppers
2 Cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 white or yellow onion
garlic powder, salt, pepper to taste
1/2 Cup hot sauce (I use Chalula)
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 Cup almond milk
1/2 Cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Put chicken breast in crockpot. Pour broth over, and add water as needed until chicken is just covered. Add a few dashes of garlic powder. Chop onion into large chunks and add to crockpot. Cook chicken for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
After cooked, pour out broth and use two forks to shred chicken.
Preheat oven to 350.
In pot over low heat, melt butter, add hot sauce and milk. Stir until melted and well blended. Add chicken and onions to pot, stir to coat. (1/2 Cup hot sauce will make a mild-to-medium spice. Adjust accordingly when making buffalo sauce.)
Remove core and seeds from green peppers, slice in half and lay halves in a casserole dish. Scoop buffalo coated chicken into each pepper half. Fill until slightly mounded.
If adding cheese, remove peppers after 25 minutes, cover with cheese and bake and additional 5. If you're not using cheese, just bake for 30 minutes.