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Healthy Dessert Time

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I just got back from an inspiring yoga retreat in Costa Rica! It felt so good to take the time to practice yoga and meditation with a group of amazing women while soaking up the sun and local culture. Now that I’m back in chilly Boston, with yet another storm snowing me in, I’m enjoying spending a couple of days cooking, cleaning and grounding myself.

We were particularly blessed on this journey to have an amazing team of personal chefs who kept us cleaning our plates with a healthy and creative diet. My hands-down favorite this trip was a dessert of avocado pudding on an almond crust. I immediately had to recreate it at home. If you have never had avocado pudding before you are missing out!! It’s all the joy and flavor of eating a rich chocolate pudding and it’s healthy!

Avocado pudding

Now, there are many ways to make avocado pudding. I went the simple and delicious route using minimal ingredients. This turned out beautifully and was made in less than 10 minutes, including cleanup!

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1.5 cups walnuts, almonds or pecans (I used a mix of walnuts and pecans because that’s what I had at home)
  • 2 tbsp Grade B/Dark Amber maple syrup (Fancy will do if you can’t find Dark Amber)
  • A pinch of sea salt

Pudding:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 4 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder (regular cocoa powder works fine too and might be more mellow if you’re not used to raw cocoa)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add nuts to your food processor and grind until they break into rice-sized chunks.
  2. Gradually add the maple syrup and sea salt and combine until ingredients stick together. Be careful not to over-process. It’s nice when there’s a good texture to the nut-combination.
  3. Press mixture into the vessel of your choice. I used an 8″ square pyrex dish. Individual ramekins also work well.
  4. Wipe your food processor clean, then add in all of the pudding ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
  5. Top the crust with the avocado pudding.
  6. For best cutting results (and the best favor in my opinion) chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Tip: If you chill the avocados before making the pudding that will cut down on the chilling time…and make licking the spoon more enjoyable. 😉

It should be noted this is not just a dessert. It’s an excellent source of rich omega 3’s, antioxidants and protein and I’m just as happy to eat it for breakfast as I am to eat it as an afternoon snack or dessert. Om nom nom!

Fueling Up!

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Things have been going so well with my knee that I’ve stopped blogging my daily workouts and am going back to just writing about unique workouts and nutrition! It also doesn’t help that it’s school season again so my full-time job has ramped up and I’m once again at the mercy of teachers and students needing all things technical.

Yesterday I signed up for The Heist!! This is an all-women’s bouldering competition held at Central Rock Gym (my home gym) in Watertown, MA. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I heard about it after CRG’s Ring of Fire comp back in March. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to compete due to my knee, but I’m back in the gym twice a week and I’m feeling strong so let’s do this!

I’ll admit, I’m nervous. I’m still very much a beginner climber; my height to weight ratio really works against me in the gym. So even though I’ve been climbing twice a week since January, my techniques’ just so-so and I’ll be competing at a beginner’s level. This means I’ll be attempting 5 bouldering problems rated V0-V2 over the course of 3 hours. That is a LONG comp, much longer than the one I did back in March. I honestly rarely do gym sessions that are so long and while the length is really to give people time to rest between attempts, folks who need more attempts (as I might due to my level) will just end up climbing more. My goal is literally to not come in last. This is a real goal for me because in my last comp, well, I came in last. 

Due to the healing time for my knee I missed out on the chance to train with The Heist CRG Team so for now I’m on my own. I’m training by bouldering once a week to gain strength and skill and top roping once a week to help me with endurance. I also just treated myself to new shoes (I’ll blog about those another time) since my old shoes were starting to fall apart and really weren’t ideal for bouldering. On the days I’m not in the gym I’m doing a mix of cardio (biking for my knee), tabata/HiiT workouts, kettlebell strength training, and yoga.

It’s been interesting, as I work to strengthen my legs and upper body I’ve been gaining weight. A chunk of that is from new muscle, but if I’m honest with myself a larger chunk comes from allowing myself to drift into a summer junk food diet cheating more and more on my allergy diet. I’d still say overall I’m a very healthy eater, but I’ve had fried clams/oysters, lobster salads, bagels with lox, burgers and beer, Mexican and margaritas, and all sorts of things that are great once in a while but not once a week. It’s time to slim down, which means being strict about not eating foods I’m allergic to and keeping my portions reasonable with a paleo-tilt. Every pound in my body is a pound I’m dragging up the wall with me. Thankfully, this is also harvest season so my kitchen is FULL of local, organic produce, most of which from my or my Dad’s garden.

This week I’m trying out a few new recipes. The first one was Punjabi Baingan Bharta, which is an eggplant dish that I actually enjoy (I usually hate eggplant). I basically followed that recipe to a T except that I quadrupled the amount of garam masala, added a little turmeric and cardamom, and used an immersion blender at the end. Its was so good!

Last night though was INCREDIBLE!! It was adapted heavily from this recipe, but I’ll put my whole recipe here.

Grilled Chicken with Raw Peanut Ginger Lime Veggies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, or an oil of your choosing
  • 3 large or 5 small carrots, spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 1 large zucchini spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 1 medium beet spiraled or peeled into noodles*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter if you’re strict paleo)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk (use canned or “cooking coconut milk”)
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

*Note: I use the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer but have my eye on the Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. The GEFU works well for zucchini but for the carrots and beets I just used a vegetable peeler to make strips.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your grill (if it’s not grilling season you can pan-fry the chicken in coconut oil, ghee or an oil of your choosing). In a small bowl mix olive oil, salt and pepper and brush on chicken (note: if you’re pan-frying just sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken).
  2. In a medium bowl mix the nut butter, coconut milk, aminos, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and lime juice. 
  3. Begin grilling the chicken, depending on the thickness it should be grilled about 6 minutes per side to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  4. Mix spiraled/peeled veggies with cilantro and stir in sauce.
  5. After chicken has cooled for ~5 minutes cut it into bite-sized chunks and mix in with the “pasta” until fully coated in the sauce.
  6. Serves two!

Finally, here are two of my favorite DIY workouts from the past two weeks. These are both core and lower-body intensive to compliment my climbing and knee recovery, but they are still full-body workouts (and both started with 30 mins on the exercise bike doing intervals and end with 15-20 mins of yoga):

8/22/2014 3 Rounds for Time (my time = 20 mins)

  1. KB backward lunge row and pass under x 20 (26lb KB)
  2. Weighted sit-up and butt-lift x 10 (15lb dumbbell)
  3. Single-leg lateral lift x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  4. KB Single-leg deadlifts x 5 each side (26lb KB)
  5. Single-leg kick-backs x 10 each side (5 lb ankle weights)

9/3/2014 – 2 Rounds for Time (my time = 22 mins) – I purposely lowered the KB weight for this per my Physical Therapist as I get back into weighted squats. I’d normally use a 26lb KB so choose your own weight that’s right for you.

  1. Weighted double-leg lifts x 15 (5 lb ankle weights)
  2. Single-leg lateral lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  3. Single-leg medial lift x 15 each side (5 lb ankle weights)
  4. 2 X 20 Kettlebell One-Arm Swings (15lb KB)
  5. Figure 4 Squats x 12 each leg (15lb KB)
  6. Weighted Deadlift kickbacks x 15 each side (15lb KB + 5 lb ankle weights)

Enjoy the beginning of the change of season and remember to eat those fresh veggies!!

 

33 Days, 2970 Burpees, 13 Miles and a delicious new smoothie!

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On top of my normal workouts I headed out to hike Elmore mountain today with my man and my trusty pup.  While the grey days of winter really seem to stretch on far too long, today was one of those special Vermont days when the weather was fair and the mountain tops were covered in a fresh dusting of snow.  It really was a beautiful hike and it’s a shame I didn’t think to snap a picture.

Afterwards we were starving!  Neither of us had really eaten enough to support the level of exercise we did today, which is always dangerous.  We headed to the grocery store and it was a real fight for both of us to not leave with a cart full of frozen pizzas and pastries.  We made it out with the veggies and eggs we went in for and quickly ran home to make what has become the most amazing smoothie I’ve ever had!  Chocolate lovers, this baby is for you!

In searching for new green smoothie recipes I came across this great post featuring 4 recipes under 400 calories.  I added protein powder to it and it was seriously incredible!

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Chocolate Covered Raspberry Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (original recipe uses almond milk)
  • 2 cups organic spinach
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries (original recipe uses fresh and adds 1-3 ice cubes)
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds (original recipe calls for ground, I like using whole seeds)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 scoop of Fat Flush Body Protein

If you love chocolate and raspberries this is for you!  I also just got a jar of the Fat Flush Body Protein, which I’ve reviewed previously.  Now that I’ve been using several different protein powders I can make a better comparison.  It’s texture is closer to Plant Fusion powder I reviewed, in that it’s a very fine light powder.  It dissolves pretty well with minimal grit.  It does contain stevia which is a con for me, the stevia aftertaste annoys me.  While the powder itself has that sweet smell, the flavor in the smoothies hasn’t bothered me like it has with other powders.  I’d be happier if it didn’t have stevia but it meets all of my other protein powder requirements so I’m actually going to raise the rating on this from a B+ to an A-.  I’ll definitely finish the jug.

1080 Burpees in 12 Days, Green is GOOD

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1080 burpees down, more than I care to count to go!  I’m hurting but not enough to complain about it here just yet.  This is a quickie entry to share my latest Vitamix creation:

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Vegan Spinach “Cheese” dip.  I swear, that might not look delicious but it TASTES delicious.  Since I’m new to the world of Vitamix vegan cheeses I didn’t alter the recipe at all so you can find it in all it’s glory right over here.  Next time I’d definitely blend it less so it’s chunkier and not quite all-over-green.  I will say that neither my boyfriend nor I are vegan but we both thoroughly enjoyed this accompanied by lentil crackers, carrots, celery and snap peas.  I’m also a huge fan with how much of this recipe is raw.

I also made a raw cashew “cheese” dip directly from the Vitamix Create recipe book but I have to say I wasn’t impressed.  So unimpressed that I’m not even bothering to write about it here.  My boyfriend liked it, I thought it was…funky.  Like, ear funk funky.  So tell me, blogosphere, what raw nut cheese recipes do you love?  I’m on a quest!