No Bake Immune Boosting Oatmeal Balls

21728312_10108587084001721_2935115220672835439_nThis morning while making Oat-Pancakes, Leif noticed there was a recipe for some oatmeal bars on the back of the flaxseed package.  Of course, we can’t say no to a yummy ball recipe, so we quick whipped up a batch but, in true form, changed up the recipe to meet our needs.

You can 100 percent just use oatmeal in this recipe but, having just made our favorite Immune Boosting Cereal blend yesterday, we decided to use that instead.  The result was a delicious, immune boosting ball that makes for a great snack or a quick breakfast when paired with a little fruit or a smoothie (I made little balls and mixed them into my smoothie bowl this morning).  Check out the recipe for the Immune Boosting Cereal here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Immune Boosting Cereal Blend (1 cup GF rolled oats)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup Almond or Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:

Mix everything into a bowl.  Form into balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer to harden.  Store in the freezer or refrigerator.

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Chickpea Cookie Dough

unnamed-4I have always been a fan of cookie dough.  As a kid, I’d still it when my mom made cookies.  Thankfully, I didn’t die from eating raw eggs.  When I became vegan, my love for cookie dough did not diminish but my risk of getting salmonella did.  I love cookie dough more than I love actual cookies…and that’s saying something because I really love cookies.  This recipe blew my mind though.  This is about as guilt free as it gets when it comes to eating cookie dough.  This can be eaten by it self or added to smoothies or banana nice cream for a blizzard like experience.

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These balls are full of protein, healthy fats, and fiber rich carbs (and chocolate) making them the perfect post workout (or anytime) snack.  My kids can’t get enough of it and they are approved by the families at our preschool (we took them to a potluck today).

So, here you go…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 7-10 dates
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (we like Enjoy Life)

Instructions:

Add everything but the chocolate chips the the food processor and process until a dough forms.  Add in chocolate chips and pulse a few times to chop them a little.

Roll into balls and store in the fridge!  Boom. Done.

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Redemption.

Cascade Super MarathonOn Saturday I raced for the first time in a long time.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from my body as some of my chronic hip and hamstring pain returned about a month ago and I started an early taper, even taking a full week off completely from running.  I was over trained.  Depression set in a bit and I questioned whether or not I should even race.  But, I’d paid for it and goodness knows I’d worked for it so I was going to do it.

I set my alarm clock for 5 AM.  I woke at 4:40 in a little panic because it was already light outside. I laid back down and then… at 5:25 woke up and realized my alarm hadn’t gone off.  I pried my breast away from Rein and slipped downstairs to make the coffee, oatmeal, and dress for the race.  I was out the door by 6– plenty of time to drive up to Snoqaulmie pass, check in, and relax (aka, go to the toilet 1,001 times) before the marathon started.

As I drove along, I sang and got pumped up.  About 10 miles out, I checked my email for parking directions.  What came up was an email, from my spam folder, that declared the start time had been changed to 7 AM! WTF?  It was 6:58 and I was still 10 minutes away.  I cursed.  I actually said out loud, “Well, I guess I’m not supposed to run today…” and thought about going back to North Bend to hike.  With some encouragement from a friend, I decided to try.  I whipped into the parking area at Hyak, jumped out of the car and peed in the parking lot, ripped off my sweats and fleece and asked the first person I saw where the start was…  “Half mile down the road, jump in, I’ll take you!”

We jumped in his SUV and sped off.  At the start, I ran up to the start line and asked if I could still run.  The organizers were AMAZING!  “What’s your name!” a guy shouted from a van.  30 seconds later I was handed my race bib.  I pinned it on and took off.

The first 5 miles was an out and back along an alpine lake.  I was literally alone for the first couple of miles.  I was laughing and enjoying myself.  I cranked out a couple 7 minute miles and then started seeing other runners on their way back from the 2.5 mile turn around.  I hit the turn around and headed back, chasing down each runner one by one.  As I went back through the starting area, one of the race organizers cheered me from her car!  “I knew it! I knew it!  You’re not alone!” she shouted.  I laughed and ran on towards the tunnel.

As I approached the entrance of the tunnel, tiny little flashlight in hand, I passed a pacer and his lone passenger.  The “passenger” felt is appropriate to call me “cutie”. Ew.  As I entered the tunnel, I began to feel disoriented, even nauseated.  I slowed way down to get my barring.  I must have said something out loud because the creeper said from behind, “Come run with us big guys, we’ll protect you!”  No thanks, I’ll take my chances in this long dark tunnel.

With each step, my eyes began to adjust to the darkness.  All I could see was what was directly in front of me.  Every once in a while, I’d shine my light at the sides of the tunnel.  The further in I went, the more I began to feel the things.  I felt the darkness. Not just the darkness from being one mile in to a 2.5 mile long tunnel…but the darkness from the traumas of the last 7 years.  The sudden loss of my sweet nephew, the loss of trust, and the trauma from Rein’s birth.  The song, “If you’re going through hell, keep on going…” played through my head.  “Keep going,” I said to myself. I imagined the end, the light, and anticipated a feeling of “rebirth”….  I felt like I was flying and as I flew, I let the pain and hurt exit me and soak into the darkness.  Then, I could see the light.  I saw people moving –they looked so small.  At first I thought they were crouched down, then I realized just how big the tunnel was and how little we were.  Like a butterfly, busting out of its cocoon, I slid into the light.  Onward.

I ran on.  Continuing to pass people.  Admiring the clouds as they floated through the trees and mountain peeks.  A hummingbird buzzed over me.  I smiled.  Hummingbirds.  Small, fast, graceful, wise.  Sometimes I get visits from these tiny creatures when I need them the most.  The hummingbird represents wisdom.  I thought, “What kind of wisdom do I need right now?”  Do I need to slow down?  Am I going to be able to hold this pace for another 15 miles?  Sometimes wisdom might be interpreted as caution.  Sometimes it might mean to GO and go fast.  So I went.

I spent a lot of time alone in the forest during the race.  I talked to myself, out loud.  I smiled a lot.  I groaned.  I questioned.  I hurt. I ran.  I remembered why I was running.  I pulled my core in.  I focused.  At mile 17, I passed an aide station and a very handsome, athletic looking man complimented my cadence… I felt all the feels and ran.

I crossed gorgeous bridges spanning over misty rivers.  My feet hurt.  My hip was aching.  I told my hip (like actually said out loud), “Today’s not your day…”  and I ran.

Those last 6.2 miles.  On man.  If you’ve ran marathons before, you know.  I reminded myself, “Its supposed to be uncomfortable…” and I ran.  Mile 23, I knew I was going to do it.  I knew I was going to go under 3:35 and finally qualify for Boston.  I knew I could slow down if I wanted and still make it in plenty of time.  I started to lose my focus and I felt my body stray and slow.  Nope.  I pulled my core in, shoulders back and I started laying shit down on the trail… “Payton, I really freaking miss you.  Its bullshit you had to leave…”  “Death, I really fucking hate you.  Fuck you, death.”  “Oh, and Trump, You’re a piece of shit.  Fuck you and your misogyny.  Fuck you and thinking that the female body is yours for the taking.  Fuck you and your cronies making choices about my body, the bodies of millions… Fuck you for trying to destroy our mother…”  I mean, I really said these things out loud alone in the woods.  I said them with authority, people.  I said them like they were the most true and powerful things that could ever be said… I even threw in some lions breathes.

Then, before I knew it, I hit mile 25.  I looked at my watch and I realized I could walk if I wanted to and I’d still qualify and still PR.  Not going to walk.  I picked it up and went for it.  Then I heard it.  I heard the cowbells and the cheers and knew the finish line was near.  I knew that a few more turns through the evergreens and I’d be digging it out across the finish line with a 20 minute PR and a Boston worthy marathon time.  I heard myself shout, “GO!” and I went.  I probably made some ugly faces as I went.  As I came around the last turn, the announcer called out my number, “Number 79!  She started 15 minutes late!  She’s pulling in around 3:20!”

All smiles and arms up as I sprinted across that line.  By this time, it was raining.  I’d tossed my long sleeve shirt along the way and hadn’t checked any gear.  I grabbed some bananas and ran straight to the shuttle bus to return to the car.  And just like that, I was done.  All those 5:30 AM wake up through the winter after all night nursing sessions were paid for.  I left everything on the trail.

And to think I almost went hiking instead.

 


The Happiness List.

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I have been slowly working my way through Mo Gawdat’s book Solve for Happy. One of the things he says that has helped him to be happy, even in times of immense loss, is a happiness list. His list is forever growing. When I started my list last week, it had things like coffee, the post run high, my kids’ smiles. There’s one BIG thing though. There’s an experience (or 2 actually) that so fully flood my body with contentment when I think about it. It has happened twice to me but in two very different ways– The moment when I finally met my babies. With Leif, the labor was painful and long. The labor itself was not peaceful but powerful, painful, and exhausting. The emotions that reached every corner of my body when I pushed him out were absolute Heaven.

Rein, was different. My labor was peaceful, even zenful. I enjoyed the waves of contractions that rang in my hips. I enjoyed working through each one. Then, as we know, the birth took a quick turn (literally, he turned transverse) and I ended up with a traumatic cesarean. I can still hear my own voice sometimes, the screaming– “Why isn’t he crying?!?!?!?!” Yesterday, while running, I remembered this. I felt my heart racing and tears pooling in my eyes. And then I said to myself, “He’s alive. It’s okay. He’s okay.” When they placed him on my chest, the experience was much different. It was relief. It was “Oh My God, we’re both still alive…” It was “Welcome home, how was a I complete without you?”

When the world feels really dark, this is where I go. I go to those first moments of holding Leif and Rein. Their wrinkly bodies on my bare chest. My lips, between joyful cries, telling them how much I love them and kissing their heads over and over while midwives and doctors sew me back together (I needed to be sewn up after both births–just different places).

This is the feeling I pray ushers me into the afterlife when my time on earth is done. This is the sacred space where I will always feel at home.


The In Between Moments

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Motherhood is nothing like I expected it to be.  Its dirty, exhausting, and sometimes maddening.  Its the baby eating the dog food and the dog eating the baby’s poop.  Its a toddler tantrum in the middle of a parking lot.  Its eating your dinner on the toilet because you just need a few moments alone. It’s the baby trying to bite your nipple off and refusing to sleep unless your bodies are touching.  Its dog hair fluffs flying across the living room, even though you literally just mopped.  Its always having food on your shirt from the kids.  Its someone using your leg as a snot wiper.

But in between these moments, there are moments of pure gold.  Its the baby sleeping soundly while and you’re 4 year old joining you for yoga.  Its a kiss on the lips from a little boy who thinks you’re the best.  Its those kicking legs and joyful grunts your baby makes when you return to him.  Its all of these things and more.

It will probably take years off my life in stress but add even more back in love.

Sigh, Motherhood.


Turmeric Almond Pulp Crackers/Flat Bread

Easy Peasy.  You need a food processor and some parent paper to make this operation run smoothly.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup wet almond pulp (after making almond milk…mine is a bit sweet because I use dates in my almond milk)
  • 1/3 coconut oil
  • 3 TBSP ground flaxseed soaked in 1/4 cup water for about 10 minutes (chia will also work)
  • a few dashes of sea salt
  • a few dashes of turmeric powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process in food processor and then smooth onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Depending on your desired thickness, this will be different for everyone.  Places in oven for 15-20 minutes.  Checking every 5 minutes after the 10 minute mark.  You can make these softer like flat bread or crispier if you’d like more of a a cracker!

We use ours for PB sandwiches, hummus, crumbled on salad, topped with krout… the possibilities are endless.


May, Lovely May.

And now it is May. Rein is 10 months.  How did that happen?  Leif is a little man, and its wonderful and heartbreaking and wonderful again.  He makes me laugh every day… He also makes me crazy at moments.

I have some big dreams for May and for the summer.  I want change the way we do finances.  I want to be smarter about where I invest my resources– time, money, energy.  I want to spend more intentional time with my kids, my family, and my friends.  I want to grow my business in a way that is both serves the women I work with but also honors the place I’m at in this motherhood gig.

So, this month, I’ll be processing some of these things out loud (via the internet).  I hope it encourages, inspires, and maybe’s opens new areas of your heart.

Let’s start here.  These are some things I’m doing to reduce our food bill, but still eat like a freakin’ vegan boss.

I started volunteering in at Wildhare Organic Farm in March.  In exchange, I go home with local organic produce and a bunch of cardboard each week (for my garden, you know). I also get the privilege of spending Tuesday mornings with Katie, one of the owners, who is beyond lovely.  She’s genuine, understanding, and a bad ass farmer and business owner.  I have also met other volunteers and employees that have done nothing but add to my life.  My dad and sister-in-law have mostly been helping with the childcare to allow me to do this but starting this month, I’ve worked out a trade with a woman who will watch the boys for me in exchange for coaching! It feels like a good fit.

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Why Hello Fresh Organic Greens… how wonderful you’ll be in my smoothies and salads.

I’m grocery shopping less and using CASH.  I’ve tried the cash method before and always failed but I’m committing to paying for groceries and little things like coffee or outings with cash.  I’ll reserve my credit card for things like gas and any online purchases.  By online, I’m talking about ordering things like diapers and bulk gluten free oats because it saves me money (and time)…also, I’m able to get a lot of things I would typically get at Target on Amazon Prime…and I save myself like a billion dollars by not going to Target.  You know what I’m talking about, ladies.

I’m not buying extras like $4 bottles of kombucha.  I plan to start making my own or finding a trade with someone who home-brews.  I also haven’t been spending money on wine. Sad, but true.  I am trying to reserve alcohol for when we have special outings or for Sundays at my parents house (Thanks Mom and Dad for hooking that up).

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Sunday Night Dinners are the best.

I’m mixing my protein powders.  I usually use a more expensive VegaSport protein after my hard workouts.  It’s formulated to help with muscle recovery and I really notice a difference but I am choosing to not use a full scoop and I’m supplementing with their less expensive product from Costco.

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I’m also eating my smoothie out of repurposed peanut butter jars these days..

I’m learning to “get buy”.  Its Saturday and I don’t restock the kitchen until Tuesday usually… so I say, “Okay, we’re having dinner at my parents tomorrow night, so we just need food for Monday…What do we have?  We have onions, grains, beans, and purple cabbage… I can make a meal with that.  We are out of bananas but I can survive one day without bananas in my smoothie.  I’m picking up 30 pounds of them from the farm on Tuesday!”   It forces me to get a little more creative with our food and use what we’ve got instead of making a special trip to the store.

 

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I downloaded the ibotta App.  I haven’t used it yet but look forward to trying to get some rebates with it!  Have you used it?

My garden!  While I’ve only been able to harvest rhubarb and herbs so far this spring, I have kale, cabbage, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and squash in the ground with several trays of starts slowly growing on the deck.  This will provide for a lower food bill this summer!

Waste not want not– I’m making sure to use the almond pulp from our almond milk to make crackers each week.  This makes for awesome PB sandwiches for the boys (and me).

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What do you do to lower your food bill while eating as healthy as possible?