The Best Way to End a Night

Yesterday, JO and I ventured to another round of bikram yoga. The room was so humid from all the rain we’ve been getting that even the militaristic instructor took pity on us and opened the windows at the end of the class. Again, I left hot yoga feeling light, happy, and utterly de-stressed. I may need to purchase a pass for the next couple of months that I’m still in the North Country. We refreshed with a couple of bottles kombucha. (Confession: I had TWO bottles yesterday. One after breakfast and one after Bikram. This must end. JO’s brewing another batch so I can stop being frivolous and buying these.)

Yes.

Since we had an arts benefit to go to last night and only an hour in between bikram and the show, we decided to get Mexican food for dinner. I had a bowl of tortilla soup and a glass of white wine, both of which totally hit the spot. However, when we got home at 9:30, I was hungry and craving something sweet. Enter banana ice cream, a treat I’ve been eating for several months now since it’s been featured on a lot of blogs. For two servings throw 3-4 frozen bananas in the blender with a little liquid (almond milk for me) to get the blender started:

bananas

Blend for approximately 2 minutes, or until the bananas are super smooth. Dole servings into cups. ENJOY.

 

banana soft serve

Sometimes I add peanut butter and unsweetened cocoa powder – delectable – but last night I was craving something plain and simple.

Ditto this morning, when I woke up to rain and clouds.  I had 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1 sliced banana, and a spoonful of both almond butter and a spoonful of tahini. Let’s face it: I use oatmeal as a conduit for fatty spreads.

fatty butters and oatmeal

a perfect breakfast

JO, on the other hand, doesn’t like nut/seed butters in his oatmeal. So I made him a bowl that was heavy on the walnuts, dates, bananas, and cinnamon (and 3/4 cup of oatmeal). Here’s his spread:

toppings

a big bowl

Say "cheese," Toppings.

Now the rain has turned to snow – a winter storm is a brewing (UGH!) – and I plan on writing kids’ report cards, running, and cleaning for the rest of the day. Stay tuned for a review of my week in Eats.

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The Cure for an Achy-Shaky Booty.

After a 4.5 mile run this morning, I’ve been lazing.

Some scenes from today.

latte.

and a newspaper.

Irish oats with blueberries and raisins and two sausage patties.

JO's pick.

Done gone good.

Now we’re off to Bikram yoga and a benefit concert featuring African dance and drummers.

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Dancing Queen

I am sore in the very best of ways. I spent a good 18 hours this week dancing African dance. What a phenomenal week. Last night, my kiddos, my co-teacher, two drummers, and I had a performance for the school. It was AWESOME – my students did so well and had so much fun in the process. If I could dance everyday…man, that would almost be a replacement for the Vitamin D I’ve been missing here in the North Country.

When I got home from the performance, JO and I had a potluck dinner party. JO made rice from the incomprable Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. Rice doesn’t sound that fancy, but when it’s cooked with kefir grains and soaked for a full 12 hours, it is quite special. With the fermented mango chutney it was served with, the rice was out-of-this-world. We had Moroccon mini-burgers cooked by our farmer neighbors, and a winter salad made with olives, jicama, garbanzos, and other assorted goodies from our teacher friend.

 

Rice.

Mango chutney.

Chutney love.

My dark plate. Ignore the bite. I couldn't wait to dig in.

I, of course, was in charge of DESSERT. I had every intention of making a sugar free tofu “chocolate chip cookie dough dip” that I found on Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog. So yesterday, when I came home from my run and had an hour to spare before my dance workshop, I decided to get crafty in the kitchen. However, I am not the goddess of sugar free desserts. I am new to this whole baking without sugar thing. I am not Katie. I completely screwed up the dessert, due to some misjudgment on proportions. I tossed it. (Katie, I’ll have to actually follow your recipe to a T the next time!). Enter the oreo truffle from my favorite blog.

Dirt never looked so good. I'm so happy I can't eat this, or I'd eat the whole thing.

Butter holds those babies together.

These are for melting and dipping those truffles in. Hello, bliss.

I followed Heather’s recipe but dipped the truffles into white chocolate instead. Hmm. This was finger-licking good.

Don't tempt me with my hands-are-too-red-from-all-that-drumming covered with chocolate.

But, since I am not eating gluten (ever) or processed sugar (on a good day), I didn’t do the honors. That’s was wierdo boyfriends are for. Insert: awkward pause. Anyways, the oreo truffles were a smash hit. In fact, their deliciousness and someone’s gluttony overconsumption led to a bit of a domestic dispute. I am not longer allowed to make any desserts with sugar in them because they are a) too good b) too easily over-eaten and c) therefore lead to stomach-aches. Okay then.

For those of us not able to indulge in the truffles, I made a heavenly chocolate mousse from these four ingredients:

  • ricotta cheese
  • unsweetened cocoa powder

    I love the new old-fashioned label.

  • stevia
  • maple syrup

JO and I leave for Colorado in a few days, and I’ve been on a mission to use up the contents of our fridge. When I saw a near-full container of ricotta, I knew I had to use it in a chocolate mousse. I threw all the ingredients into the food processor for about 2 minutes. Here’s what emerged:

GAH! I forgot to snap a shot. Imagine the most creamy, delectable, rich smooth chocolate mousse you have ever seen. The kind of sinfully chocolate dessert that elicits the Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally food-gasm. OH MY. It was the perfect ending to a delicious meal. Since I don’t have a picture, I guess I’ll just have to make it again soon to show you. Lucky me.


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I Feel Lucky…

Looking at the past 24 hours, I feel really lucky. Why?

1. I’ve danced so much that I have blisters on my toes. I get to spend 18 hours of my work week this week dancing.

2. I’ve learned how to play the djembe drum.

3. It’s March, which means I’ve survived February, which is officially the worst month of the year.

4. Yesterday, I received 40 books from Amazon that I get to read for graduate school, and 20 of them are children’s books like Goodnight Moon, The Devil’s Storybook, and In the Night Kitchen. Aforementioned 40 books cost $200, which is, as far as book costs go, pretty low.

5. I’ve converted JO over to Bikram. When I was driving one of my students home from school yesterday, I passed the hot yoga studio and saw JO’s car. He told me last night that he plans on going from now until we move as much as he can!

6. JO and I make each other laugh. On my way by the studio, I put this note on his car: “Hey hot stuff. I really dug your baby cobra today in class.” I was hoping to creep him out. He said he knew it was me all along and that it made him laugh.

6. When I came home from dance class last night at 9:00, this is what JO had this project going on in the kitchen:

purple, gold, and new potatoes

beets and turnips

root vegetable medley

Which he roasted along with a big piece of meat!

A beet juice and homemade chicken stock reduction

the veggies coming out of the oven

JO even had all the pictures waiting for me!

7. My dinner last night was literally one of the most delicious I’ve ever eaten, and it was homemade and prepared for me by JO (who is, lest I’ve fooled you, the real only cook in our relationship (leave the baking to me!).

This is the worst picture ever, but I couldn't let the final product go undocumented. We ate in a darkish room so I had to use the flash. That's chuck roast with a beet juice reduction, roasted root vegetables, and cabbage.

8. And today, I’ve done yoga and have another 3 hours of African dance after lunch. In one week, I’ll be on spring break!

 

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Self-Compassion?

This week, I have mornings off before my afternoon African dance workshop. ( My workshop, by the way, was KICK BUTT yesterday! I realized that I will have danced a total of 18 hours by Friday. I am already quite sore, and I’ve only done 1 day of the workshop.) Anyways, this morning as I was procrastinating on writing cover letters, I came across an  article in the New York Times entitled, “Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges”. The articles looks at an ironic trend: people who find it easy to be kind and understanding of others often don’t demonstrate compassion towards themselves. While they go easy on other people, they don’t go easy on themselves for fear of being self-indulgent. According to the article, research suggests that demonstrating self-compassion can improve health; self-compassion is linked with higher levels of happiness and optimism, while higher rates of self-criticism is linked to a decrease in motivation, particularly around food and fitness. Tara Parker Pope describes, “Imagine your reaction to a child struggling in school or eating too much junk food. Many parents would offer support, like tutoring or making an effort to find healthful foods the child will enjoy. But when adults find themselves in a similar situation — struggling at work, or overeating and gaining weight — many fall into a cycle of self-criticism and negativity. That leaves them feeling even less motivated to change”. The article concludes with a comment that self-compassion is necessary for the success of every diet plan.

What do you think? The article really resonanted with me, a person who is definitely prone to self-criticism.  Could it be that I’m missing some self-compassion? Do you buy it?

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I See London, I See France…

Yesterday afternoon, JO and I attended a bikram class together. This was a BIG deal, as JO deplores heat and likes practicing yoga at home. He was totally apprehensive, but I forced him to come with me. Interestingly, whereas my last class was mostly women, this class was filled with couples. I’m pretty sure every girl in the North Country dragged her husband/boyfriend/partner to the class. JO commented that the trend was further evidence of the “incredible power that women wield”. Interesting. After a second class, I can safely say that if I had enough money – each class costs $16 bones – I would practice bikram as much as humanly possible. I love it! There’s something totally cathartic about sweating your face off. Even JO, who needed to sit down when he began seeing spots before his eyes, said as much. And since he has some flexibility in his schedule this week, he’s going back today! Just like I always tell JO, women know best!

But, back to that part about sweating my face off: my clothes were as soaked as if I had showered with them on. Stupidly, I forgot to bring a change of underwear or a new shirt. All I had with me were my Carharrts. So, for the first (and only) time in my life, I can safely say that while shopping, there was someone – actually 3 people –  in the store who knew definitively whether I was wearing underwear. I saw 3 women from my bikram class dragging their husbands through Price Chopper. Here’s what JO and I ended up buying. Our 90 minutes of yoga definitely influenced our shopping. Notice all the high-water-content foods!

Fruits and veggies make my heart sing.

Citrus love.

That’s the orange I’m eating as I type this entry. Since my African dance workshop is this week, I have mornings off (hallelujah!).

JO and I were both in the mood for something crunchy for dinner and something easy to prepare while we I watched the Oscars. We decided on a big crunchy salad of argula, shredded carrots, yellow peppers, and cucumber. We JO seared some steak and made a delicious tahini dressing from my favorite restaurant in my hometown. Here’s the recipe for the BEST dressing:

Bean's and Barley's Tahini Dressing

And the cookbook from whence it came:

Bean's and Barley recipe book

And the ensalada:

Crunch.

Los colores.

And the meat to go on top (veg-heads, I apologize for the carnal footage):

Meat.

All together now:

Yes.

All dressed up.

P.S. I made those bowls for JO and me for Valentine’s day a couple of years ago. They’re our unofficial salad bowls. We eat every salad from them but use them for little else as they’re quite large! We I enjoyed a great night watching the Oscars. JO shuddered through the whole thing. Speaking of which, James Franco and Anne Hathaway made me cringe. Woo for Melissa Leo! Colin Firth, you are a charmer. My favorite winners are the nerdy, normal sound editors and other types. They are so genuinely floored and happy, and my heart sings when they thank their wives and kids.

Anyways, after dinner, JO and finished the last of the maple yogurt. I had about 1/2 cup serving, along with a small glass of red wine. What a great way to end the night!

P.S. I did yoga again this morning and have already found that I’m eating more wholesomely and intuitively. Keep your eyes on my “Eats” to see if the trend continues:)

P.P.S. Here are a couple pictures of my “dance face”. Everyone has one. Mine just happens to be quite special.  I can’t wait to alarm my students by it.

This must have been "Rolling on a River..." JO and I like to literalize lyrics.

Me, being special.

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Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Farm-fresh eggs from across the street make me want to bake.

I like to bake. A lot. And now that I’m gluten-free, I like to try new recipes. While surfing gluten-free blogs, I came across this blog. There are so. many. delicious. treats. I really wanted to make this. Wipe that saliva off your face. I had to do the same. That treat is decidedly not sugar free. So, I settled on a recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Muffins.

Bananas! No processed sugar! Lots of fatty peanut butter? Delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 ripe bananas chopped
  • Cinnamon** my addition
  • Vanilla
  • ¾ cup creamy TJ’s Crunchy Peanut Butter 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Prepare muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  3. Separate eggs. Nerve-wracking!

    Separation anxiety.

  4. In mixing bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll have a soufflé on your hands.

    Stiff peaks.

  5. In another bowl, whip yolks until they become a creamy, lighter yellow (about 2 minutes on high speed).
  6. To yolks, add chopped bananas, vanilla, sprinkle of cinnamon, maple syrup, and peanut butter.

    Mix it up.

  7. Blend thoroughly.
  8. With rubber spatula, fold your creamy peanut butter mixture into the egg whites. Mix until the white stripes disappear!

    Yum o.

  9. Fill muffin cups until full.
  10. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

I had ½ of a muffin before running some errands on Sunday. The muffin looked a little angry, but it sure tasted good.

Why is your face all scrunched up?

While its consistency is a little soufflé-like, it was delicious nonetheless. Plus, your whole house will smell like peanut butter. Who can argue with that?

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