(Fresh)ly Baked

A statement I often make is that I don’t bake. This may be because I have no patience, never have the ingredients on hand and have a penchant for setting dishtowels (or myself) on fire whenever I put carbs in the oven (why can I cook everything else in there??), but as I proved last week, I like to break my own rules.

My first project turned the remnants from almond-milk-making adventures into almond-maple crispy-cookies. I’m a chewy cookie gal, but I’ll still rank these as “pretty darn good.”

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I’ve also been celebrating weekend mornings with excuses for more maple syrup oatmeal scones on the patio (with a good book and hot cup of black coffee). Good to the last bite.

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And not only have I been baking–I got out a real camera. Despite my dislike of my camera (and the fact that I accidentally put my foot in half my photos and had to toss them due to the lack of appetizing-ness of feet), I think I got a pretty snazzy shot (for me) of the simple muffins I whipped up for me and my dad on Father’s Day.

Simply Good Stuff Banana Muffins

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/2t cinnamon
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2t vanilla
  • Add-ins of choice: I used almonds and dried cranberries. Because I had almonds and dried cranberries.

Mix your dry ingredients, mix your wet ingredients, add your wet to your dry. Pour into a lightly oiled muffin tin. Pop in a 375 degree oven for 18 minutes. Don’t set anything on fire.

This recipe makes 9-10 dense-yet-fluffy and moist-yet-textured muffins that are perfect for breakfast or portable snackage.

Do you bake? What’s your favorite (baked good) recipe?

Featured (Fresh) Food: Mustard Greens

While most of my garden is waiting to hit its stride, one thing is growing, and growing strong. Mustard greens. Prompting this week’s featured food to be, well, a given. And yes, thanks for noticing, I ate mustard greens for four meals in one day. And have eaten them at least twice a day for almost a week now. Moderation and gardens do not mix.

Breakfast 

Ingredients: Mustard greens, banana, faux-milk and hemp seeds.

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Result: A pre-workout breakfast drink–sweet yet earthy, with a kick of peppery spice.

Snack

Ingredients: Two eggs, mustard greens, baking powder, spices.

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Result: Eggy muffin cups for on-the-go snackage.

Lunch

Ingredients: Mustard greens, parsley, mint, quinoa, onion, lemon juice. Tilapia.

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Result: Quinoa tabbouleh on garden lettuce. Yes, I put my salad on a salad. With Moroccan-spiced tilapia.

Snack

Ingredients: Almonds and frozen cranberries.

Result: Okay, fine, there were no mustard greens in this one.

Dinner

Ingredients: Mustard greens, banana peppers, cilantro, garlic, rice vinegar and tempeh.

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Result: Tempeh stir-fry!

And there are still enough greens left to feed a (health-conscious) army. Time to start freezing the extras.

Any ideas for how I can use more mustard greens?

Fresh Attitude, Week Three: Fresh-Laid Plans

Schedule change-up! Didn’t feel like posting yesterday. So guess what? I didn’t. I was going to get my Week-in-Review on, but my weekend recap just wasn’t flowing. Unlike some other things in my life. See, I’ve been changing more than my blogging schedule. I’m working on shaking up my old routine and rerouting a few not-that-great habits, and in the process? I’m finding more time while rushing less, although I’m not quite sure how that’s working. I believe we can examine this phenomenon further with a fresh day-in-the-life!

Wake up at 4:30am.

This used to be 4am. See? Now it’s a reasonable hour.

Roll onto the floor, do some yoga (aka 10-ish minutes of stretching). 

This used to be “stumble into the kitchen, fumble for coffee.”

Make some smooce (I’m not really sure if this counts as a smoothie or as juice).

This used to be “make and scarf a big breakfast.”

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Finish my  smooce while free-writing in my journal.

This used to be “frantically tidy and pack for the day.”

Hit the patio at 6am. Sip coffee, read and/or watch the garden grow.

This used to be “hit the gym at 5am. Come home, frantically get showered, dressed and out the door.”

Start work at 7am. Eat second breakfast. Stare at a computer screen.

This hasn’t changed.

Hit the gym at 11am.

This used to be “take a quick 15 minute walk or just skip lunch break altogether.”

Work 2pm to 6pm. Stare at a computer screen.

This used to be “work 11:15am to 4pm. Stare at a computer screen.”

Go for a walk while waiting for for traffic to subside.

This used to be “angrily sit in traffic. Angrily get home.”

Get home and leisurely make dinner.

This used to be “pull something out of the freezer.”

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Tidy the house, relax, spend time with friends.

This used to be “unproductively kill time until friends get out of work.”

Hit the hay.

Nope, hasn’t changed much. I still tend to sleep on a regular nightly basis. (Now think of all I could get done if I could just change that requirement.)

So how have I found more hours without actually finding more hours? I just…slowed down. It seems counter-intuitive, and yet it feels so wonderful. Everything is still getting done. With a heck of a lot less internal pressure. Yes, I still have my frantic days, my days filled with “shoulds” and the days when my schedule just won’t cooperate, but then I simply remember my favorite things try to remember to just take it easy. Life’s meant to be enjoyed, not rushed through.

Are there enough hours in your day? How do you remind yourself to slow down?

Fresh Attitude: Week Two

To continue my goal for the month of making things fresh, I’ve rethought (and/or re-established) a few of my “never agains.”

Never Will I Ever…do yoga.

Except that (second) time I signed up for a hot yoga class. On a 97 degree day.

This was a…unique…experience. Guided by an instructor whose true calling was that of auctioneer. I’ve never had so much yoga yelled at me so fast in so much heat. Maybe I’ll try again next winter.

Never Will I Ever…drink kombucha.

Except yesterday morning when I talked myself into giving it one more shot at Whole Foods.

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Nope. It still tastes like overpriced ass.

Never Will I Ever…run.

Except three days in the past week when I’ve jogged.

And by “jogged” I mean “walked with interspersed shuffling.”

Never Will I Ever…sweat.

Except during hot yoga and hotter runs.

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I take it for granted that I am not a sweaty person. But then straight wetness from the sports bra down.

Never Will I Ever…eat scallops.

Except when I’m at a fancy restaurant and decide to finally try getting past my childhood hatred/utter loathing of them.

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Despite battling un-fond memories…these were damn good. Crusty walnuts, blue cheese and strawberry-mango salsa helped.

Never Will I Ever…drink my breakfast.

Except the past two mornings when I’ve whipped up a green-banana-smoothie.

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Still not a lasting source of satisfaction, but it’s worked as some pre-workout fuel (when I know I can come home and scarf real food soon).

Hits and misses, but shrugging off a few more self-imposed rules to give things a second (or third or fourth) chance? It’s been a good week.

What’s an exception to one of your “rules?”

What I Ate (When I Was in Ohio)

While I sort of recapped my trip to Ohio on Monday, well, Meghan and I did eat a few things that weren’t bananas. Because when two food bloggers get together, there is no other option but good fresh food and lots of it. And for me to report in detail.

Let’s start with the fresh bread. While Nashville offers many things, fresh, crusty homemade bread just isn’t one of them. Simply looking at (and smelling) fresh bread was a treat, but I still had to shove a loaf in my backpack to take home. Yes, I that happened.

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Meghan and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (err, I mean, “The Hubs”) took me out to dinner on Friday night at The Greenhouse Tavern. The food was spectacular–the stars being goat-cheese ricotta-stuffed semolina pasta and a stinky cheese fondue lamb burger. And drinks.

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Saturday started off on the right foot. There’s nothing like having a fabulous host serve you alcohol for breakfast early morning mimosas, eggs and roast veggies.

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Saturday also featured a salad from the salad-master herself (and I contributed my raw tomato sauce as accompaniment to a fresh lemon pasta).

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Sunday featured brunch at The Root Cafe. I, of course, pay good money to travel North and see and eat new things…only to order biscuits and (vegan tempeh) gravy. Worth it.

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So of course there were also tons of fresh veggies, fresh fruits and Meg-made granola, and I went home full–of good, real food.

Have you been enjoying any recent travel eats?

Great Times, Good Bananas

This month, I’m all about starting fresh. I made a goal to find fresh faces and places, a fresh fitness program, fresh food and a fresh attitude. And this weekend was a rousing success in that first category, thanks to an amazing vacation host and link-up host: Meghan (who is just as funny, clever and down-to-earth in real life as she is on her blog).

Week-In-Review-Button-Final

While I could use today to review a fabulous fresh city (with a great old feel), fabulous fresh sights, fabulous fresh times and fabulous fresh food–Well, it’s not about you, it’s about the (#publicbanana) consumer. And I hear you’re supposed to show not tell when it comes to writing anyway.

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I could tell you about how Meg welcomed me into her home (and kitchen), but instead I’ll show you a sneaky kitchen #publicbanana.

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I could tell you about sweating it to hot yoga, but instead I show a neighborhood #publicbanana with a view.

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I could tell you about a gourmet meal out on Friday, but instead I’ll show you a #publicbanana on my head.

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I could tell you about the foodie heaven that is Cleveland’s West Side Market, but instead I’ll show you Meg rocking her #publicbanana with attitude.

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I could tell you about making fresh foods with fresh ingredients, but instead I’ll show you an aptly-located jungle #publicbanana.

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I could tell you about running a record-breaking three miles in a row (don’t laugh–I don’t run), but instead I’ll show you a monkey-style #publicbanana.

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I could tell you about the time Meg lost her arm in the war we went to the botanical gardens after a vegetarian brunch, but instead I’ll show you a #publicbanana display.

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I could tell you about this amazing, relaxing and fun vacation that was just what I needed, but I think the #publicbanana show reveals enough.

Have you rocked a #publicbanana yet?

The Freshness, Week One

If I call my goal to make life more fresh “The Freshness,” is it only me that thinks it sounds like some weird reverse-aging disease? No? I watch too many bad horror movies? Okay then. Onwards and upwards. Not only am I tackling a fresh attitude and eating fresh food, I’m taking steps towards a fresh fitness approach and checking out some fresh faces and places.

I rarely post about fitness, other than the general, “I lift weights.” Why? I won’t lie, it’s because I don’t read other people’s detailed fitness posts. I don’t skim ’em, I don’t browse ’em, I flat out skip ’em. If you’re all, “I went for a run!” I’m all, “Cool!” If you’re all, “I ran 4.3256 miles in 5.6732 minutes and burned 5432 calories with an HR of ZEUS,” I’m all, “Hey, there’s a dead bug on the window sill over there.” But since fitness is a huge part of my life and I’ve had fun with it this week, I want to share a few details. In a hopefully entertaining fashion. That’s right, put in work, eat your salad, (I’ll still eat) dessert, it’s…

Allie’s Workout Plan

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Sunday: Made my neighbors hate me. How is that a workout? Grab a jump rope, get an interval timer, go outside at 6am. Slap the pavement with your rope, swear when you repeatedly (and frequently) trip over the rope (or your own feet), and intersperse said slapping and swearing with high pitched beeping at regular intervals. AKA: This workout.
Monday: Looked a little crazy. How is that a workout? Download the Bossypants audio book, plug in your headphones, go for a walk and laugh uncontrollably while meandering around the neighborhood.
Tuesday: Forced myself into the spotlight. How is that a workout? Go to the gym, decide to not lift the same weight you’ve been lifting for weeks. Discover that dropping more than 2.5x your body weight on the leg press machine makes a particularly impressive amount of noise. But I managed to get one rep in first.
Wednesday: Surprised myself. I felt like jogging. So I went for a jog. Who am I?
Thursday: Quit. How is quitting a workout? Go to the gym, do one lat pull-down set, stare at the free weights, don’t do what you just don’t want to do, go home. Sanity saved.
Friday: Get on an airplane. How is that a workout? I’m sure my excitement about spending the weekend with Meghan is doing something healthy like burning calories or building The-Rock-esque biceps. Or maybe it’s just making me look forward to a relaxing time with good people and good food.

Do you read or follow other people’s workout plans? What are you getting into this weekend?

Fresh Food, Week One

Remember that goal to make life fresh that I’ve been talking about all week? Well, here’s part one of fresh food, which is part two of the goal, which is part six of the year. Are you still with me, or is that too (two?) much math for a Wednesday? I hope not, because today I’m doubling up WIAW and my fresh take on feasting–and featuring my garden goodies in the process!

What (Fresh Food) I Ate Wednesday: Homegrown Greens Editions

How I Made It: Classy

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Broiled tilapia filets on a bed of cucumber with homegrown sprouts and lettuce.

How I Made It: Fast

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Cubed cod, homegrown mustard-green sprouts and shiitake mushrooms stir-fried in a lime-coconut sauce.

How I Made It: Cheap

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Costco turkey burger, asparagus spears, ketchup and fluffy homegrown lettuce.

How I Made It: Breakfast

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Two local eggs, one Trader Joe’s chicken sausage, lots of turnip sprouts.

How do you like to use your greens?

 

Fresh Attitude, Week One

I missed Meghan’s link-up party yesterday, but you know what’s really fashionably late? Show up a whole day later than you’re supposed to. Try it for a real-life party sometime, and watch your hosts’ look of awed surprise.

Week-In-Review-Button-Final

I took yesterday to chat about my goals for this month–and now I can take the opportunity to show how well I’ve rocked ’em already with a little Week(end) in Review. I didn’t plan on this being any out-of-the-ordinary weekend. But it ended up feeling like a total escape. I didn’t treat it any differently/do anything different from a regular weekend, so what was the difference? A fresh attitude! I did my best to focus on all the good things I did do rather than focusing on what I didn’t get done instead. No feeling guilty about what I didn’t accomplish, because what I did do? It rocked.

It’s okay that I didn’t…read from any of the three novels I have started.

Because I…was in the mood to browse magazines in the sun.

It’s okay that I didn’t…go to the gym.

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Because I…took lazy mornings on the patio and long walks (to hilarious audiobooks) in the afternoon.

It’s okay that I didn’t…get around to catching up on blog reading.

Because I…spent time doodling, napping and, well, not blog reading.

It’s okay that I didn’t…stick to my grocery budget.

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Because I…supported local farmers and had way too much fun wandering around the farmer’s market.

It’s okay that I didn’t…vacuum the house.

Because I…had way more fun wandering around my muddy garden barefoot and then traipsing in through the front door.

It’s okay that I didn’t…do anything social on Saturday night.

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Because I…responded to inner call for a night in with B-movies, beer and burritos instead.

It’s okay that I didn’t…do this that or the other chore, errand, mental task, physical task, emotional task or responsible adult action.

Because I…had a damn good weekend!

Goal: More Fresh

As the year progresses, I’ve been setting monthly goals to do more.

May’s goal turned into a personal challenge to buck the shoulds and live life my way without second thoughts, self-doubt or guilt. Of course you can’t achieve that in a month (and I flat out sucked at it for the first three weeks), but I think I’m finally figuring out how to start, at least. And there’s no better start than a fresh start, so I give you June’s continued goal to leave the rules behind and forge my own path (rather than travel along an old rut).

Be More (Allie) Fresh.

So let me rock to the rhythm of the funky rhyme and master these goals just one more time.

(No matter what I say, it always come out fly.)

Fresh Attitude

No, I don’t just mean inserting more, er, “fresh” language into my posts and life (although I do plan on speaking up and out more). I need to continue to ignore the shoulds, discover the me behind them and put the spunk back in my thoughts and actions.

Fresh Fitness

I mentioned being bored with the same ol’ lifting, so this is the month for new classes, new scenery and new routines. I’m going to make fitness fun and something I’m passionate about again.

Fresh Eats

Yes, fresh in terms of local in-season goodness, but also fresh in terms of new ingredients, new products, and new recipes.

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Grocery “shopping” for the week: Chicken-and-egg CSA, homegrown greens, farmer’s market beets and goat cheese.

Fresh Faces and Places

Travel more, see more local sites, say more random words to strangers!

What’s something fresh and new in your life?