Brown Butter & Hot Yoga

Over the past two years, I’ve gotten pretty good at learning what a healthy, balanced, delicious, and filling diet looks like for me. It’s got a hefty dose of roasted vegetables, green smoothies, seeds and nuts, rice and beans, a little bit of high quality meat and cheese, and of course- chocolate.

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There are times I scoop up more ice cream than I do flax seeds, but I know how to get myself back on track and feeling good again within a couple weeks.

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With my passion for food, though,  I sometimes forget about allllll the other important aspects of a healthy life. As a result, stress has recently snuck up on me like a pup nosing her way up to the appetizer table. You never see it coming until half the good cheese is gone and you’re freaking out.

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Call it the holiday craze, call it too long of a commute, call it saying ‘yes’ to one too many commitments- there’s no one root cause of my stress. The real issue is that I gave it permission to make a home inside my head.

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I’ve been gifted with a brain reboot over the past 2 days, though. Far away from my meticulously scheduled routine, in a land where the only rules are “No Whining” and take your turn at the dishes and give extra hugs and eat one more gingerbread cookie- please? Stress has become a foreign feeling.

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I’m not 100% sure how I’ll bring this clarity back home with me in 2 more short days- but I do know that it’s as crucial (if not more so) to my health than chia seeds and hydration. I’ll keep fighting for that ever elusive balance that can be found somewhere between 10 hour work days and a hot mug of tea at night, in between hot yoga and brown butter cookies.

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Merry Christmas. No whining.

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Magic Apple

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We’re about 3,500 feet up and my head is spinning. My heart is pounding everywhere except in my chest- in my ears, in my temples, in my feet, and OH MY GOD my quads are on FIRE. I’m out of breath, and hating myself for not being in better shape. For not being able to propel myself up this mountain as fast as the rest of the group. The self-doubt comes rushing in and I lean up against a tree, wheezing. And then, Trevor hands me an apple.

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It was a magic apple. Bright red and small. Sugary but not too sweet, juicy and crunchy and purely satisfying. It lifted me out of my own head and put the pleasure back into hiking. The last 1,589 feet weren’t easy, but they were far from torturous. My thoughts changed from shit-talking my abilities to positive reinforcements of my own strength. We summated Mt. Lincoln, all 5,089 feet, in an hour and a half.

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One of my very favorite parts about hiking, aside from the spectacular views and the sense of invincibility, is that food takes on a whole new meaning. Whether it’s a handful of trail mix or an apple on the way up, a hummus-cheese-and pickles sandwich at the top, or even downing the last drops of your water bottle, you can taste with every bite or swallow new strength coming into your body.  You can almost feel every glorious calorie finding its way to the parts of your body that need the most repair.

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It made me think about all the meals I have when my body isn’t being heavily strained. “Food as fuel”- the notion that we should eat solely to keep our strength up- has never been a motivating concept for me before. I believe food has purposes far greater than simply caloric intake. Food brings friends and family together, it can connect you with the seasons and to your community, it can bring back memories of wonderful times and people, or food can be just be simply fun.

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But there’s nothing like a long hike to help you take stock of how much food for fun vs. food for fuel you’ve been enjoying recently. Last weekend’s hike helped me to re-evaluate my diet. I noticed that my portions have been a little large lately, and that there really isn’t a need to snack between meals unless you have a workout you’re prepping for, or unless you’re really, really hungry.

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And if you are really, really hungry- eat an apple.

Weekly Wrap-Up

WEEKLY WRAPUP

My week started with watching my best friend get married and is ending with climbing an enormous mountain. Big things, people! Here’s what I’m thinking about in between all that:

  • I’m researching hangover foods for an upcoming recipe post (and past weekend real life experience).
  • Best mashup of the summer. Repeat repeat repeat.
  • I love my Vitamix- definitely going to try some of these recipes!
  • We have ZERO real problems– if you’re healthy, safe, and loved, be grateful.
  • Some weeks I’m just harder on myself than others. Here’s how to love yourself no matter what.
  • There is a very soft spot in my heart for figs.
  • Let’s up our breakfast game, shall we? Cereal is so 2014.
  • The world is exploding with zucchini this time of year. Can’t eat ’em fast enough? Freeze those suckers!
  • It’s creeping into the end of summer and I still haven’t gotten to a lot of these things.
  • If you can climb a mountain, you can do anything.

Healthy chips, 3 ways

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In our quest to eat healthy, it’s easy to jump to conclusions about which foods you should cut out. “I’m quitting sugar!”, “I’m going cold turkey on alcohol,” and “No more snacking for me” have all come out of my lips at one point in time. These blanket statements sound really appealing- but usually by lunchtime I find myself thigh-high in cookies or halfway through a bag of chips.

icecream 2 For many people (including yours truly), complete denial of our cravings usually leads to binging out on that very food a little later. I find I’m much more successful in losing weight when I approach it through moderation and finding healthy alternatives to my favorite unhealthy foods. Enter:

Healthy chips, 3 ways!

 Cheesy Carrot Bits, Spicy Zucchini Crisps, and Rosemary Garlic Potato Chips.

Let’s get to it.

Cheesy Carrot Bits:

  • 7 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inches
  • 1 TB coconut oil
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt + Pepper

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil two baking pans with coconut oil, line with carrots and top with nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes. Take out of oven, use tongs to flip carrots. Bake another 10-30 minutes, until brown around the edges and crispy. Lay on cooling rack to cool, sprinkle with more nutritional yeast, and enjoy!

Spicy Zucchini Crisps

  • 2-3 TB flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • Salt+Pepper
  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced 1/4 inches (slightly thicker than a quarter)
  • 1 TB coconut oil

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Mix together flour, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil two baking pans with coconut oil. Dip your zucchini slices in the flour mixture, then lay on the baking sheets. Flip once so that both sides have a small coating of oil.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Take out of oven, use tongs to flip zucchini. Bake another 10-20 minutes, until just brown and a little crispy. Lay on cooling rack to cool.

Rosemary Garlic Potato Chips:

  • 3 medium sized potatoes or 6 small potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin on a mandolin
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 TB olive oil

Put potato slices in a bowl, cover with cold water, and refrigerate at least an hour (this helps the chips get extra crunchy.) Dry thoroughly with a towel. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil two baking pans with oil. Lay out potato slices on pan, flip once to coat both sides. Bake for 15 minutes, take out of oven and use tongs to flip. Bake another 20-30 minutes until brown and crispy. Put in a big bowl straight out of the oven and mix with rosemary, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Lay on cooling rack to cool.

Serve the chip (or chips) of your choice with lots of hummus and fresh veggies!

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Weekly Wrap-Up

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Cheers, dude! You made it through the big week. Take it easy today and check out what’s been motivating me:

  • I struggle with yoga because I don’t have a “yoga body.” These photos encourage me to keep going anyways.
  • I fell in love with the food in Sri Lanka. I can’t wait to try to recreate some of these dishes in my kitchen!
  • Starting the land/house search is hard. Dreaming of this house keeps me going.
  • I’d like my entire freezer to be filled with these.
  • I’m totally taking this trailmix to Baxter over labor day weekend.
  • Take a risk- try some weird food this weekend.
  • And while you’re at it, make this cocktail.
  • 10 steps to improve your running form, ladies.
  • It’s the start of August and it’s too hot to cook. Tasting Table has you covered.
  • So blessed to hike this peak every summer. Katahdin, here we come!