Brownies for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

After a week-long hiatus from baking, I finally got my hands chocolately again tonight. You might be thinking, “Hold up, I thought this chick is a health nut? Last I checked brownies aren’t a health food…” Well, my “brownies” are more like naturally sweetened chocolate protein bread, but I must market them as brownies to get people to try them. And once they do, they love them! I took a double batch to a small party last weekend and the entire pan was gone by the end of the night! My husband likes them so much that he’ll eat them with breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I actually got this recipe from a body-building website; it was created (and is consumed regularly) by top fitness model, Jamie Eason. Here is my take on it:

The Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 4 egg whites OR 2 whole eggs
  • 2 scoops of chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1/2 cup Truvia, Stevia, Splenda, OR Xylitol
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 oz berry baby food OR 8 oz unsweetened apple sauce (I usually use a split mixture of both)
  • 3 (generous!) tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup water

    The Finished Product

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix dry ingredients (oat flour, protein powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder) together in a large bowl
  • Mix wet ingredients (eggs, sweetener, baby food/applesauce, water) together in a medium bowl
  • Add wed ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together
  • Spray a baking dish (I usually use circular cake pans) with a non-stick baking spray and add batter
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes and Viola, you have the perfect desert or on-the-go mini-meal!

Makes 8 servings at ~100 calories each, with about half the calories from protein! I hope you try them and enjoy! ūüôā

P.S. Today was the first time EVER that I baked without sampling the batter… does that make me a grown-up or what? My nutrition teacher explained to the class today how she raises chickens and how filthy they are; I decided to stop playing Russian Roulette with Salmonella.

Why I Carry 27 Pounds Around All Day

Yesterday in my writing class, I was happily typing away on my short story when my ¬†professor came up to me and said, rather alarmed, in her charming British accent, “Oh my, you have so much stuff!” She seemed genuinely concerned for my sanity.

It’s true, I had a lot of stuff sprawled out all over my section of the table in class: laptop, laptop sleeve, laptop charger, iPod, iPod charger, cup of ice with powerade 0 in it, the bottle of powerade 0, and several pyrex containers with snacks.

The 26.8 lb monster!

No only do I sprawl a lot of stuff out on the table while I work, but I also carry all of that stuff (plus a little more) around in my backpack all day long. Maybe it’s because my dad raised me to always be prepared, but at any given time you will catch me with several beverages (coke 0, powerade 0) to last me through the day (and so I don’t have to pay cafeteria prices for them), my computer and all of its accessories (sleeve and charger), my iPod, enough pyrex containers full of food to last me the whole day, my wallet, a pencil pouch full of pens and highlighters, and also whatever books I need for classes.

My Eats

Perhaps the most space-consuming are the pyrex containers. From top top to bottom I have: dried edamame mixed with dried wasabi peas, a half sandwich of Dave’s Killer Bread, almond butter, and jam, my peanut butter-yogurt dip, strawberries, and a mix of sliced gala apples and baby carrots. It’s worth it to carry around all this food because healthy eating stems from being prepared. Click here for an awesome discussion on this topic!

This morning I weighed my backpack and it weighed 26.8 pounds! People wonder if carrying around the equivalent of a small child on my back all day is cumbersome, but it’s really not. I think it’s because I lift so heavy in the gym, that my body thinks a backpack is a vacation; I guess that’s why some training is called functional training — because it has functional value in everyday life. I even get in a little bit of an Ab workout when walking up hill. It’s like bonus exercise!

Now that I’m reflecting on it, I feel a little bit of pride trekking my monstrous backpack around campus all day — a year ago I surely would not have been able to do it without huffing and puffing and taking frequent rests.

Priorities

This week my life has felt particularly busy; between classes, exercise, writing papers, study time in the anatomy lab, grocery shopping and cooking, cleaning, spending time connecting with my husband, and searching for a summer job, it doesn’t feel like there is much time leftover to sleep or breathe. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and I choose to make it busy! But there is always a point where the semester reaches a boiling point, and that boiling point is now.

How do I prioritize all of these responsibilities in life?

  1. Exercise.¬†Exercise is always my number-one priority. In order for me to have any prayer at accomplishing anything else on my to-do list, I need to me in a good state of mind. Without fail, exercise does this for me. I can be virtually unraveling, but give me an hour on the elliptical and I’ll be just fine by the end. It’s like exercise presses my internal ‘reset’ button.
  2. Classes and Homework.¬†I’m not paying $10,000 dollars a year in tuition to skip class and blow off my homework, ’nuff said!
  3. Cleaning. Similiar to exercise, a clean environment is good for my mood. I find the messier my apartment is, the crankier I am!
  4. Hubby Time.¬†I try to spend real quality time connecting with Zach everyday. Sometimes it’s not until 10 or 11 at night that we finally get to plop down on the couch to catch up and then watch a few minutes of TV. It’s not even the TV that I look forward to, it’s the foot rubs while we watch ¬†ūüôā
  5. Grocery Shopping and Cooking.¬†I try to do the bulk of my cooking on the weekends and always keep super easy snacks around. This priority moves to number one if there is no food around — a girls gottta eat! And I simply don’t keep junk food around so there isn’t that temptation.
  6. Everything Else. Anything else that I want to do (like blogging and hanging out with friends) gets scheduled around the above.

I never get as much done as I want to in a day, but that’s life. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I like to remember the quote that I read in Oxygen: everyone shares the same 24 hours in a day.

Priorities are on the brain because yesterday I had an exercise in managing them. I was supposed to workout hard yesterday, and then take today as my weekly rest day, but we¬†really¬†needed groceries and I needed to study in the Anatomy lab. I didn’t have time to do all three. I decided to take my rest day to yesterday and go to the Anatomy lab and go grocery shopping. Today, I want to exercise and go to the Anatomy lab, but ¬†I don’t have time for both. Today my choice has to be exercise. Life is a balancing act!

Well, now I’m off to the gym ūüôā

I Didn’t Wear Makeup Today And The World Didn’t End

 

Me, only make-up free

I am a girly-girl by all definitions. I own more dresses than I do pants, I feel prettier in high heels, and I never leave the house without doing my makeup.

This morning I woke up to a thunderstorm and heavy rain. I considered curling my hair, but then I thought, “ugh, what’s the point of doing my hair if it’s still going to look crazy by the end of the day?” So I didn’t. I tamed my bangs and pulled the rest into a pony. Per my usual routine, I proceeded to apply concealer, powder, and blush, but right as I was about to put on eye makeup, I took a good hard look at myself in the mirror. My eyes are big and bright, why do I have cover them in eyeliner and mascara every day? So I went with the pony-tail-laid-back theme and skipped the eye make-up.

And you know what? I felt exactly the same throughout the day. When I looked in the mirror, I still liked what I saw, because I know I have built a healthy body through clean-eating and exercise.

I’m not a no-makeup convert by any means; I still love me some long lashes. But I just thought I’d remind everyone that when we take care of our bodies, we allow our natural beauty to shine from the inside out.

Quin-what? Quinoa!

What is quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)? It’s kind of like brown rice, only tastier and much higher in protein. You can literally put one part quinoa, two parts liquid in a pot and in 15 minutes it’s ready to eat!

Clean-Eating Quinoa

One of the favorite meals in my family is Clean-Eating Quinoa. Two days ago my hubby and I made up a double batch of it, and we just finished the last of it for dinner last night. I got home really late last night after a busy day and hard workout, and it was wonderful to have this already ready with a side of steamed veggies! Here is the recipe:

Yields four servings.

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of chicken broth OR 2 cups water with 2 tsp chicken bouillon
  • ~ 1 cup of diced bell peppers (you can always add more veggies if desired!)
  • ~ 1 cup of diced cucumbers (can also use zucchini)
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions (if I don’t have these on hand, I omit them)
  • 1 can corn
  • 8 tsp olive oil (also good with exotic oils like avocado oil)
  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • juice of one lemon or lime
  • 2 tbs ground cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, add only if you like spicy food)
  • pinch of salt

Add quinoa and broth or water to a saucepan. Cover with lid and cook on high for 15 minutes.

While quinoa is cooking chop up veggies and place them in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients to bowl. When quinoa is finished cooking, simply pour into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients mix, and enjoy!

P.S. Quinoa can be expensive at the average grocery store, so please save yourself some money and buy it in bulk at stores like Winco whenever possible!

My dinner last night: Quinoa with a side of steamed asparagus, green beans, cauliflower, and broccoli

Sisters In Iron

My skinny arms before weight training (and back when I was blonde)

I’ve spoken with¬†so many women that are afraid of the¬†weight room. I also notice the stares of confusion and awe ¬†from other women in the upstairs stretching area looking down on me while I train. What is it about the weight room that scares women away? Is it the big sweaty men, the ‘complicated’ machines, the lack of female energy? For me, it was probably all of the above: I was afraid of being the only girl in the weight room and embarrassing myself as I tried to uncover the mysteries of the machines. How did I overcome my fear? One day a few months ago my dad (check his awesome writing out here) came to visit and askedme for a tour of our Student Rec Center. My dad loves doing weights, so of course I couldn’t skip the weight room. So for the first time ever, with my dad by my side for protection in case the scary weight room decided to attack, I ventured into the unknown. And ya know what? It wasn’t so bad. I didn’t getting any evil “what are you doing here?” glares. Maybe it was all in my head?

In the days that followed with my morbid fear now just a mild phobia, I came across the December 2011 issue of Oxygen magazine. At the time I saw it on the news stand, thinking it was just a generic fitness magazine, but picked it up because I wanted something to read while I trudged through my daily cardio, and I was impressed by the physique of the woman on the cover.

I read that magazine cover to cover, each page in awe of the lean, muscular women demonstrating weight-training techniques. Split routine, superset, drop set… This wasn’t just another generic fitness magazine, this¬†was a woman’s weight-training bible. My first time reading the magazine I felt like I was getting a glimpse into a whole new world with a whole new language. I don’t think I even mentally absorbed half the content. What I did take away though, was that I wanted to start. I didn’t want to be “skinny fat” any longer!Included in the magazine was a beginner-friendly total-body routine that required only a bench and dumbbells. I copied it down and took it to the gym with me. I hesitantly performed the routine once through in my own little corner next to the mirrors (I would work up the courage to conquer the machines another day). When I finished I felt so empowered!

I got a subscription to Oxygen,¬†and through it I discovered Tosca Reno’s Eat-Clean Diet books. I read the entire series over Christmas Break. Reading The Eat-Clean Diet Workout, I learned the basics of weight training, along with a list of illustrated exercises that target each body part. After reading that, I developed my own routine involving the weight machines. At first it was just a simple full-body routine three times a week. When I learned more exercises, I moved on to a two-day split: upper body one day, lower body another day. Just recently, wanting to do even more exercises for each body part, I moved on to a three-day split (see below).

The weight machines turned out to be simpler than I thought. No one laughed at me when I couldn’t figure them out, and usually when people saw me struggling, they just kindly offered their assistance. Others were off in their own training world and didn’t even notice me.

Me after 3 months of weight training!

Two days ago was my 3-month weight training anniversary! ūüôā

To put it in Tosca Reno’s words, that is how I became a “Sister In Iron.” To become a Sister In Iron, all you have to do is lift your first weight. “Like” this post if you a Sister In Iron, and join us if you aren’t yet!

My 3-day split:

  • Day One: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders
  • Day Two: Back, Biceps
  • Day Three: Legs

I do Abs whenever I feel like it/have time. I take a rest day about once a week, but its hardly ever planned — I just listen to my body and my schedule to decide when its time to take a day off. Today, for example, after my mild shoulder injury¬†a few days ago, I decided to do cardio only instead of adding on chest, triceps and shoulders. My shoulder is feeling much better, and hopefully I will be able to return to my normal routine tomorrow.

Tighter jeans… better physique?

This afternoon I was getting dressed to go study in the Anatomy lab, and I reached for my favorite jeans fresh out of the dryer. I haven’t worn these jeans in a week or so, and I haven’t worn them fresh out of the dryer in several weeks. When pulling them up, I noticed that they are a little snugger than they usually are. My first thought was panic, “What?! How is this possible?” But then my rational brain took over, and I remembered that just earlier today in the locker room at the gym I noticed my abdominal muscles were more visible than ever. I pulled the jeans up all the way and turned around to catch a glimpse of my backside, and thought “These jeans also look better on my butt than I remember.” I really had just gained some muscle, which is why I’m weight training in the first place. Crisis averted.

This goes to show that size and weight are just numbers! I would rather be a fit size 4/6 and155 lbs and fill out every inch of my clothes with muscle than weigh 130 lbs and a size 0/2. Muscles are sexier than bones! Am I right, ladies?

Athletic Injuries: The Seven Stages of Grief

Ice & Ibuprofen

Last night I was excited for my workout. On the agenda was an hour on the elliptical followed by back, bicep, and ab weights (Right now, I’m doing a 3-day split routine, which I plan to discuss in a future post). I pushed through cardio despite leg fatigue– the day before, I did an hour on the StairMaster in addition to a fabulous but tiring night of dancing with my hubby at a Relay-for-Life fundraising ball.

My planned weight routine was 3 set of 12 reps of the following exercises:

  • Assisted Pull-ups
  • Lat Pull-downs
  • Rows
  • Cable Curl with Squat
  • Super-Girl Cable Curl
  • Incline Curl
  • Back Hyperextensions
  • Side Hyperextensions
  • Russian Twists

Assisted Pull-ups felt tough after a hard chest and shoulder routine the day before — I almost felt like I was working my pecs and shoulders more than my lats on this exercise. Then I moved on to Lat Pull-downs, where at the end of the second set, I felt a sharp pain in my left anterior deltoid. From there I basically entered the Seven Stages of Grief…

Stage 1, Denial: I’m fine, that was nothing. I’ll just finish this set with a lighter weight and finish my workout.

Stage 2, Pain: I’m talking literal physical pain. I tried to move on and do rows, but there was no denying that I had just pulled a muscle in my shoulder.

Stage 3, Anger and Bargaining: Pissed off cuss words in my own head… Maybe if I just go light on the biceps and twist my arm just so it won’t hurt. Wrong.

Stage 4, Depression: Oh my gosh, I’ve pulled my shoulder. I’m not going to be able to work out anymore. I’m going to get fat again.

Stage 5, The Upward Turn: Okay, maybe this won’t ruin my whole workout routine. I still have working legs and all.

Stage 6, Reconstruction and Working Through it:¬†¬†I’ll take some Ibuprofen when I get home, and tomorrow I’ll just work legs and see how I feel.

Stage 7, Acceptance and Hope: I accept that like a dummy, I tried to lift too much weight and pulled my deltoid, and I hope like hell it gets better soon. In the mean time, I’m still going to kill in in the gym, doing any and all exercises that don’t hurt.

I could have still finished the abs portion of my workout, but I was in the Anger/Depression stage and just wanted to get the heck out of the gym. So¬†I cut that workout short, went home, took 3 Ibuprofen, and tried not to obsess about it. My shoulder is still sore today, so I’m going to take more Ibuprofen and ice it.

There is a lesson in all of this… I worked my shoulders to failure the day before and was proud and naive enough to think I could come back the next day and lift heavy (even with different muscle groups), because I still need my shoulders to stabilize in some back exercises. Next time I will give my upper body more time to recover in between workouts, even if I think I am working different muscle groups. Lesson learned!

Eating Clean and Fit-Girl Snacks

After losing 30+ pounds, people ask me how I did it and what I eat. Well, I actually eat a lot, a lot of Clean food. In a nutshell, Clean Eating is eating minimally processed foods free of added sugar and saturated fats. What I do eat is a ton of nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. I used to think nutrient-dense meant containing a lot of calories, but it actually means that it contains the most good things like vitamins and minerals for the least amount of calories. Clean Eating also involves eating 5-6 times per day at about 3 hour intervals. At each of these meals, a source of (preferably lean) protein should be consumed. Clean Eating does not involve counting calories, but works because it involves adhering to sensible portion sizes; for example, a serving of protein is about the size of your palm (a hulking man would have a larger palm and serving size than a petite woman) and a serving size of veggies is two cupped hands. This way of eating frequent low-glycemic load meals keeps insulin levels relatively steady, and steady insulin levels means our cells will be happier to burn fat rather than store it! Steady insulin, happy cells, healthy body!

More specifically, what do I eat? Well, today was busy and wasn’t one of my shining Clean Eating days, but I did okay. I started the day off right with 2 of my protein and dark chocolate enhanced oatmeal muffins (from last post) and 1 kiwi and about a cup of strawberries.

When lunchtime rolled around, I noticed a couple of lonely avocados and jalapenos in my kitchen that needed to be eaten soon, so I made guacamole.

Guacamole Recipe:

Mix 2 avocads, 1/2 jalapeno, and about a cup of salsa (I used Pace Picante Medium) in a bowl.

Once I had the guacamole, I realized I needed something to dip in it. I don’t keep chips in the house, but I did remember that I had some sprouted-grain Ezekial tortillas in the freezer that also needed to be eaten soon. Perfect! I broke the frozen tortillas into chip-size pieces and placed them on a cookie sheet that I sprayed with olive oil and then baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

While the chips were baking I thought, “Well, now I’m going to have a lot of chips, I’m going to need more dip!” and I had been meaning to make hummus for awhile (and had already bought all the ingredients in anticipation for it), so I whipped up a batch in my handy-dandy food processor. It only took minutes! You can find the hummus recipe here, which I found on Pinterest.

I had a serving each of chips, guacamole, hummus, and some baby carrots for a hearty lunch.

Lunch: Guacamole, hummus, tortilla chips, and baby carrots.

When I was hungry for an afternoon snack, I made one of my new¬†favorite snacks: Peanut butter yogurt dip! This snack is for the peanut-butter lovers of the world who just can’t stop at 2 tablespoons, but would rather have a whole cup of the stuff to dip apples, carrots, etc. into. To make, mix together:

  • 1 small tub of plain (not flavored, or you’re getting added sugar and spiking your blood sugar and insulin levels = bad!) 0% greek yogurt
  • A few tablespoons of Splenda
  • 3 tablespoons of pure peanut butter (I used Adams, but fresh-ground is even better! Just make sure there are no additives like sugar or palm oil)

This makes 2 big servings, with which I paired 1 apple and a serving of baby carrots for dipping. I also had a serving of dried edamame mixed with dried wasabi-coated peas, which is my second-favorite snack! I love dried edamame because it has 13g of protein and 7g of fiber per serving!

I loved this meal so much, I had the other half of the dip with carrots and apple again for dinner. I also had 2 more muffins and half a cantaloupe with dinner.

Okay, so I had carrots 3 times today and ate way more fruit than veggies… Not my best veggie day, and I should be ashamed when I have broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and green beans in the fridge, but I was busy and my belly is happy nonetheless. I’ll do better tomorrow! How about you, did you have a veggie-licious day? What are some of your favorite ¬†healthy snacks?

My favorite snack! Peanut butter yogurt dip and a mix of dried edamame and dried wasabi peas.

Saturday Morning Baking

This morning, like every other morning I was greeted with a grumbling tummy. Most mornings I’ll have a piece of toast or oatmeal with fruit, but this morning I remembered that I had oatmeal muffin mix in the fridge that I made the night before. My muffin recipe was inspired by¬†this recipe, as found on Pinterest (my new addiction.)

To make these delicious delights:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Most people would mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, but in my hungry haste, I usually just mix them all into the biggest bowl I own and let the handmixer do the rest of the work.

Chocolate muffins on top, mushy blueberry muffins on bottom

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce, unsweetened
  • 4 cups, Old Fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup vanilla whey protein powder OR 1 more cup of oats
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 2 3/4 cups milk (I used fat-free)
  • 1/3 cup flaxseed meal OR 1/3 cup chia seeds OR 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup stevia
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: raisins, walnuts, chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli mini-chocolate chips to make sure I get chocolate in every bite.

    Prettier blueberry muffins on top, chocolate muffin on bottom

Bake for 30 min, then enjoy!

Yields ~ 36 muffins at ~100 calories each, depending on the toppings.

As you can see , the chocolate muffins turned out¬†much prettier than¬†the¬†blueberry muffins in the first batch. The problem was, I bought frozen blueberries and they accidentally got put in the fridge instead of the freezer, so when I went to use them, the berries were a wet mushy mess. Not wanting to waste them, I used them anyways, but it made the¬†batter runny.The muffins didn’t hold together right, but they still tasted good¬†and my husband was happy to eat the mistake. For the second batch, I added about a handful of oats to absorb the extra moisture and they turned out perfect.¬†I ate two chocolate muffins and rounded out my breakfast with a hearty plateful of fruit.

Breakfast fruit

Later today, I am going to pick up my first Bountiful Basket, and I am super excited! Hopefully I’ll get plenty of produce that I know I like and some new stuff to try!