Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Snack: Back to School

Love it or hate it, summer is coming to an end (despite this sudden heat wave). I’ve already seen some trees starting to change color and school is starting soon.  My college classes start on Monday (tomorrow. what?) and I’m actually really looking forward to it.  My textbooks have arrived and my pens and paper are ready to go, but no matter how ready I am, I never feel completely mentally prepared for school to start.  To try to ease the unreadiness I feel, I’ve made the following list of links to help myself prepare both mentally and physically for school.      

Start with a good breakfast:
I like the idea of a quick and healthy smoothie.
Breakfast burritos are one of my favorites. Freeze them ahead of time.  They can be vegan too!
My favorite breakfast muffins.

As a way to save money and eat healthier, I pack my own lunch.  I found some good ideas here, here, and here.  

Here are some good ways to keep from feeling overwhelmed and full of anxiety.  And even if anxiety gets the best of you, keep your head up, stay positive, and be a good person.
“Happiness is a choice, it’s just difficult to choose sometimes.”

And if all hell breaks loose, watch some inspirational videos of a quadriplegic kitten learning to walk.  If Lincoln can get that mouse, I can write this paper!  

Hope you’re enjoying your last day(s) of summer.  I know I am!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies

I’ve been in a mood lately.  A chocolate mood.  My coworkers really like chocolate too and there always seems to be some around the office.  I try not to stare, but the chocolate keeps calling my name.  So far, I’ve been able to resist, but today was really difficult.  Really. Really. Difficult.  There was no getting around it, today, I needed chocolate.

I was completely over the moon with how well the Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies turned out.  I decided to see if I could adjust the recipe to make the blondies into brownies and it worked out fabulously!  I even shamelessly licked the mixing bowl clean!

This recipe makes a 9x13 pan of brownies.  To make an 8x8 pan, half all the ingredient amounts.

Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies
2 cans (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup milk (any kind, I used soy)
1 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter, or another nut butter of your choice
1/2 cup of sugar + 2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chocolate chips, vegan or regular (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Use a food processor or blender to blend the chickpeas and milk into a smooth paste.  Transfer this paste into a mixing bowl.

2. Stir the peanut butter, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda into the chickpea paste.  Taste the batter and if it’s not sweet enough for you, add the extra sugar to taste.

3. If desired, fold in some chocolate chips.  The batter will be rather thick and sticky.   

4. Spread the batter into a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the pan.   (The batter may look a bit underdone, but you don’t want the bars to dry out.)

As with the blondies, I’m very well pleased with how these turned out!   The chickpeas are full of protein and iron, so these brownies are filling and you don’t have to feel totally guilty!   The chocolate chips are not necessary, but I really enjoyed them.  I also prefer to err on the under baked side rather than over baking these brownies.  There's nothing in the batter that can't be eaten raw (in fact the batter would make a good dip) and leaving them a bit underdone makes them deliciously moist and fudgy!  

These brownies would be excellent in addition to a bowl vanilla ice cream or topped with some frosting. But they wonderful on their own, as I ate half a pan in one day.  Needless to say, my chocolate cravings have been satisfied!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Snack: 8/17/2013

My second summer job is over, so I’ve decided to take some time off and visit family.  So, sorry for the radio silence lately.  Anyways, I’m really excited to share the first post of my new series, The Snack!

Dog Park skit from Portlandia

These watercolors are simply gorgeous!

Freezing Produce.  Farmer’s markets are in full swing right now.  Save inexpensive, organic produce for later in the year. Yay!

Also, how to keep guacamole fresh.  Where have you been all my life?!   I often avoid avocados because I’m afraid of having a leftover half (which will turn brown after a few hours).   I really want to try this same technique with a leftover avocado half.

I really like this mini travel guide to Paris.  You can read more about Jordan’s time in France here.

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Photo Credit  

Friday, August 9, 2013

My First 5K!

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a runner.  Many people seem to run so effortlessly, with the wind in their hair, as free as a bird.  (Not to mention it’s a great excuse to wear yoga pants and a comfy sports bra.)  I’m not one of these effortless runners: my lungs burn, my side hurts, my legs feel like cooked noodles, and soon enough, I’m completely miserable.  My brothers, on the other hand, can run effortlessly.  They are on the high school’s cross country running and track teams.  It’s not uncommon for my brothers and my dad to run to and from work instead of driving a car, because it’s “fun” and “good exercise.”  Meanwhile, I’m collapsed on the side of the road, huffing, puffing, and filled with envy.  I wanted to change that.

One of my dad’s favorite saying is “How do you dig a big hole?  You keep digging.”  I figured “how do you become a good runner?  Keep running” was worth a try.  I also know that fear is one of the most powerful motivators (at least for me it is), so right away I signed up for a local 5k.  I needed to go from only being able to run for a few yards to being able to complete a 5k in a month’s time.  Almost every morning, I got up early and went for a run.  Slowly, I was able to run farther and faster.  I didn’t have to stop and catch my breath as much.  It was really hard for me, but I was making progress!  I also did a lot of reading about different running techniques and tips for new runners.  I felt like a sponge just soaking up any information I could find about running.  It was official, I was obsessed with running.

Last week, the day of my first 5k finally came.  I had made goals I wanted to achieve and I was nervous I wasn’t going to meet these goals. I had a well thought out plan of what I would wear, what I would eat for breakfast, and how I would warm up.  As I stood at the starting line, I thought about how far I had come: running was something I was never good at and yet here I was, about to run 3.11 mile with 70 other people.  I had made so much progress!

I’m not going to lie, running that 5k was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  The course had large hills that I wasn’t used to and it was really warm out.  As I ran, I told myself that I would never ever run again, running just wasn’t meant for me. But I had goals I wanted to reach and times I wanted to make.  If this was going to be my one and only 5k, I at least wanted to try my best.  My high school swim coach used to say “pain is temporary, glory lasts forever.”  I kept repeating this phrase to myself over and over. And he was right!  I crossed the finish line 6 minutes faster than my goal time!  I was so happy and proud of myself that my burning legs and wheezing lungs were the last thing I could think about.  It was all so worth it!

I’m really proud of myself for all the hard work I put into running!  As I said before, I’m not naturally a runner and it takes a lot of effort for me to run more than a few yards.  This has really helped my self-confidence.  I realize that if I can become a runner, I can do anything I set my mind to.  I’m already looking forward to my next 5k!  I'm excited to keep pushing myself physically and maybe, someday, I’ll be able to run effortlessly with my brothers.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Introducing: The Snack

Hello Everyone!  I’m starting a new series here on Katharine’s Cookery!  Periodically, I will be sharing a list of links to articles, products, pictures, and videos. Basically, it will be a list of interesting stuff I find on the internet.  Several bloggers I follow posts lists like these and I love them.    I’m calling this series “The Snack” because it’s not a full meal, or a nice dessert, it just a nice little... snack.  I’m really looking forward to these posts!