Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Water

I can't believe I haven't posted in a month. It's certainly not for a lack of training. I think a lack of time is the culprit. Graduating from college + getting ready to move + going on vacation = not a lot of free time to blog! But seeing as this is the one month anniversary of my last post, perhaps I should write something!

I think I'll write about water.

I'm terrible about drinking water. Often times I'll go days without drinking water, simply because I forget. And when I do remember, I don't drink enough of it. Instead I drink coffee, coffee and more coffee. And sometimes tea, because I think that tea is equivalent to, and an appropriate substitue for, water (though I know it's not!). This perpetual state of mild dehydration leads to poor workouts, lethargy, and poor eating habits. I often overeat, mistaking thirst for hunger cravings. Or maybe just ignoring the thirst and eating instead. Because honestly, I like food better than water. When I do drink enough water, I can immediatly notice a dramatic performance in my next workout. But then, inevitably, after that workout I slip back into my old anti-water habits.

Ok, let me bring this topic up to speed. For the last five days I've been vacationing with my family at a resort in Puerto Vallarta. It's pretty hot here. So I've been drinking lots of water. I'm also making sure I get some form of training in every day while I'm here. There are copious bottles of water around at all times (and for now, I'm going to ignore my usual vehement and heartfelt rant about the horrors of water bottles. Mexico = bad tap water = I have to drink bottled water..And no, I'm not happy about it). This excess of easy-to-drink water has kept me fairly well hydrated since I arrived. And the funny thing is...every morning when I get in my workout, I feel great. Energized. Strong. Fresh. And while lately I've been struggling with dizziness and fatigue during workouts in Ashland, I haven't had a dizzy spell once since we arrived. Coincidence? Maybe. But probably not. I'm excited to go back home, keep drinking water, and see if that doesn't fix the dizzy spells. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they are merely a symptom of my constant dehydration.

Such an obvious solution. Such a simple fix. Water. It really is an athlete's best friend.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cornmeal Orange Cranberry Bread

These muffins are a delicious variation of this recipe. They're light, healthy, tart yet sweet, and the cornmeal gives them a wonderful crunch. I was skeptical about them, unsure whether or not I'd like the cranberry..but it's the perfect flavor with the nutty cornmeal. Though, they'd also be delicious with blueberries instead of cranberries..Next time!

1/2c all-purpose flour
1 1/2c wheat flour
1c cornmeal
1/2c sugar
1 1/2tsp salt
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1/2c apple sauce
1 1/4c milk
1/2c honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2c cranberries
1/3c fresh squeezed orange juice
Zest from 1 orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tray with paper liners. In a large bowl whisk together the flours, sugar, salt and baking powder. In a medium bowl, combine thoroughly the eggs, honey, apple sauce, milk, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and combine thoroughly. Fold in the cranberries and divide batter among the muffin cups. Bake for about 18 minutes, checking often after 14 minutes.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Lemon Bars

(Another amazing recipe I'll write more about later..I just had to get it online, for the time being.)

Dino’s Yummy Lemon Bars

1-cup soft butter
½ cup powdered sugar
2-cups unbleached flour

Cream butter with sugar and add flour ½ cup at a time until all 2 cups are added…. You may need to add a little more or less… what you want is crumbly dough… not like pea size… but more like walnut sized.

Press firmly into a lightly buttered 13x9 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly toasty brown…

4 extra large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
the zest from 2 Meyer lemons
¾ cup lemon juice (from the Meyer Lemons, if they don’t produce enough juice, use more to make up the difference… you can also use concentrated lemon juice… )
¼ cup milk (not skim, whole milk or ½ and ½)
dash salt

Beat the eggs till fluffy… add sugar and beat till nice and creamy… add flour and lemon zest… beat for a minute… then add the milk… and slowly add the lemon juice so it’s a nice almost custard like consistency…

Remove the hot crust from the oven and pour the filing immediately on the hot crust… turn down the oven to 300 degrees (leave the door open while you are pouring the filling to slightly cool off the oven) and return to the oven for 20 minutes or so… the bars are done when the filling is set… feeling firm to the touch, but not giggly…

Cool on a rack for at least one hour, then cool in the refrigerator for an hour or so. Cut into interesting bars and dust with powdered sugar.

Ginger Lemon Muffins

(This is a recipe my mother sent me. I'll write all about these amazing muffins soon!)

Lemon Ginger Muffins

Peel of 1 whole lemon (shaved off with vegetable peeler - yellow part only)
2/3 cup peeled fresh ginger, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup sugar
2 2/3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. poppy seeds
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1cup milk + 1 T. vinegar)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)

Preheat oven to 350. Either use muffin liners or butter muffin tins very well. Combine first 3 ingredients in food processor or blender until it turns to a paste. Whisk together dry ingredients (sugar through ginger) in large bowl. Whisk last 4 ingredients together in medium bowl, then add ginger paste. Stir into flour mixture just until blended. Spoon into muffin cups.
(Optional - sprinkle tops with demerara sugar before baking.) Bake 20 - 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Pumpkin Bread

The other night I was chatting on the phone with a good friend. Unable to sit still while talking, I decided to whip up a batch of this bread while talking. I suppose it speaks to the ease of this recipe that I was able to bake while having a phone conversation! And it was super easy--not very messy, didn't create very many dishes, and the ingredients list was relatively short. I also appreciated that the recipe called for a full can of pumpkin--most pumpkin recipes call for 1 cup of puree, so inevitably I find my fridge full of half-full, neglected cans of pumpkin!

The bread itself was just what pumpkin bread should be: moist, sweet and pumpkiny! I omitted the nuts, but that's just because I don't like nuts in my pumpkin bread. I also messed with the sugar amounts. I only had 1 cup of brown sugar, so I added that and used 1 1/3 cups of white sugar.

Fresh out of the oven, this bread was irresistible. Between Travis, the roommate and myself, one of the loaves was gone within a day. And did I mention that while this bread is in the oven, the whole house smelled amazing? Because it did. And so will yours.

Pumpkin Bread

2c all-purpose flour
1 1/2c whole wheat flour
1c brown sugar
1 1/2c granulated sugar
2tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
1tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon (the recipe calls for 1 tsp..but I really like cinnamon)
1tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
1c vegetable or canola oil
1/3c maple syrup
1/3c water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease two bread pans. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, pumpkin, water and syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and combine thoroughly--make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl well, to catch any hiding flour! Pour the batter into the two pans and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn halfway through. Bread is done when a skewer inserted in comes out clean. Let bread cool in pans for about 20 minutes, then transfer to wire cooling racks. Freeze well-wrapped in plastic, or store in an airtight container (though I wouldn't recommend storing it this starts to lose flavor after a few days).