peanut butter pretzels

Saturday was a very good day.  My best friend, Ashley, came down for the afternoon and we went to the pumpkin patch!  Some may say that the pumpkin patch is for kids, but Ashley, Kinley and I had more fun than any of the other kids there that day.  It was almost a perfect fall day – although it was a bit windy with some gusts up to 20mph ;).  We took a hayride out to the pumpkin field and picked our pumpkins.  It took me awhile to pick one that I liked, they seemed to be pretty picked over already for there still being a couple weeks ’til Halloween!

After we picked our pumpkins and put them in the car, we went right back in to the corn maze.  I love going in corn mazes and have gone to one each year for the past 4-5 years.  I think part of why I like them so much is that for some reason I am extremely good at reading directions to get from one point to the next.  Occasionally I get turned around, but for the most part I am right on ;).

After we had our fun learning Wisconsin trivia in the Wisconsin-shaped corn maze (did you know Milwaukee was once known as Milloki?  Who knew!), we headed to a coffee shop to hang out some more.  There was a grocery store across the way and for some reason we still were up for some walking and decided to wander down the aisles – oh, what we do for fun…  Well, I passed by their various candies and treats and spotted peanut butter pretzels.  I had never had pretzels like these before, but I instantly wanted them and knew I (obviously) couldn’t have them.

Luckily, we were in a grocery store.  A grocery store that had gluten free pretzels and peanut butter chips not made on equipment shared with wheat!  Obviously we just had to pick these two items up and headed on our way.  And what we made was the most delicious confection I have had in quite some time.  I absolutely love pretzels, even more so when they are coated in chocolate.  And peanut butter is good on anything.  I had never had gluten free pretzels before these, and I was more than pleasantly surprised that they tasted just like I remembered!  These are my new favorite treat and absolutely perfect for fall!

Peanut Butter Pretzels multiply recipe as many times as you wish

1 serving gluten free pretzels (I used Snyder’s)
1 serving peanut butter chips
1-2t grapeseed oil
sprinkles (optional)

1.  In a double boiler, heat up the peanut butter chips with the grapeseed oil until melty and smooth.
2. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and a handful of pretzels to coat.
3. Dip each pretzel individually in the peanut butter coating, twisting to make sure the peanut butter isn’t too thick (unless you want really thick coating).
4. Lay the coated pretzel on the wax paper and top with your desired sprinkles or decoration.
5. Let set up before trying to move them anywhere, although you don’t have to wait to eat them if you can’t stand it anymore!
6. Enjoy!

These would even be a fabulous activity for kids – although I think I have proven you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy Fall activities ;).


disney 1/2 marathon training plan

Yesterday was the ‘official’ starting date of my Disney half marathon training plan, however today was the true test of whether or not this training plan was beginning this week.  Because of my pesky foot, I was unsure on whether I was going to be able to run or if I needed to wait a few more weeks and suffer through a steroid injection in my foot.  Well, the original plan for today was to run 3 miles, but I decreased that to 2 for a safer distance and starting point.

I actually did extra cross training yesterday.  I went to an hour power yoga session at my favorite studio, Strive, and Kinley and I went on a 5 mile walk.  The walk was more relaxing than anything else, especially in the gorgeous fall weather we have been experiencing the past couple of days (even though it has been SO windy).

I adapted my training plan from Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 training.  I made changes to the weeks that I am planning on running my 10ks (Haunted Hustle in Madison and Sugarmill Run in Hawaii), and also altered the days to best fit with when I wanted to run.  For cross training on Sunday and possibly Wednesdays, I will most likely be using the Insanity DVDs that Kinley bought last week (and should be coming shortly!) or a class at the gym I will probably be joining by the end of the month.  Mondays, possibly Wednesdays and Thursdays will be my week days runs, ranging between 2 and 5 miles.  I have no time goal for Disney since it’s my first race, so as long as I can run a majority of the distance I will be happy ;).  Tuesdays I will either go to Pilates or Yoga at my (future) gym, or yoga at Strive.  Fridays are listed as complete rest, but I will probably still walk with the pup around the block to losen up my legs.  Saturdays are the test – the long runs.  Starting at 4 miles and progressing up to 10 before the run.  As of December 4th, I will be in new territory as I have never ran over 7 miles at one time before.

I am really excited for my first half marathon training and hope my foot does not act up again.  But if it does, I will definitely not put up with it for weeks before going to see someone!  It’s hard to believe I signed up for this race in March – over 6 months ago, and now there are only 12 short weeks to go.  Ready or not, here I go!

And as of January 7th, 2012, I will have that lovely Donald Duck medal around my neck!

pumpkin pie steamer

I’ve been wanting a pumpkin spice latte a lot lately.  However I just cannot bring myself to get one from Starbucks, not even wanting to think about what ingredients they put in that flavored syrup to make it such a bright and colorful shade of orange.  I thought that Sunday afternoon would be the perfect chance to try my own pumpkin spice creation, albeit without the caffeine.  I feel like I could benefit from some additional caffeine today because of a crazy intense power yoga session this morning plus a 5ish mile walk around town in the gorgeous weather, but I know I don’t really need it and this more than satisfies the pumpkin craving.  Plus the frothed milk craving ;).

The original thinking of this recipe was to make it a pumpkin chai latte.  The picture is actually of a pumpkin chai latte.  I am currently drinking a pumpkin chai latte.  However, because of my sister’s not-so-happy-with-tea tummy, I made her this concoction instead and it totally beats the flavor of the one with the chai.  So, I offer to you the better of the two recipes, and the one we will be making many more times in the future.

Pumpkin Pie Steamer
  • 1 1/2 c unsweeteened vanilla almond milk
  • 1T pumpkin
  • 1t honey
  • .5t pumpkin pie spice
1.  In a small saucepan, bring the almond milk, pumpkin, honey and pumpkin pie spice (Trader Joe’s has it now!!) to a simmer, whisking often.
2.  You could just stop once it’s warm and drink as-is.  However, if you would like to froth the beverage, you can do the following.  Pour almond milk mixture into a magic bullet or blender, and blend away until nice and frothy.  I actually turned our magic bullet on its side to incorporate more air into the mixture and it was perfect.
3. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with a little more pumpkin pie spice.

Perfect pumpkin perfection.

banana millet muffins

I absolutely love having snack staples in the house.  I have gone only a handful of days in my life without having a snack – I just cannot seem to make it from one meal to the next without a little something.  Needless to say, after going gluten free, snack options became a nightmare (at first).  I am a self-diagnosed snack carb-o-holic and gluten free snacks (mostly pre-packaged) just did not do it for me, so I was stuck.  Well, at least until we came up with our go-to muffin recipe that gets made pretty much every-other week now.  We made a batch (over a dozen muffins) and store them in the freezer.  Then the night before we want to bring them as a snack, just take them out and put them in a container to thaw out – and they taste just as good as when you make them.

We are currently all out of these muffins.  And you can bet that there will be a batch made tomorrow because we have plenty of ripe bananas to use up!

Gluten Free Banana Millet Muffins
  • 1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats ground into flour in a blender
  • 1/2 c millet flour
  • 2T chia seeds
  • 1/4 c millet, toasted (on stovetop for 3-5 minutes until they start to pop
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1/2t salt
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 4-5 bananas
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 2 eggs

1. Grind the oats in a blender to use as a flour.  Add in millet, chia, toasted millet, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
2. Mash up the bananas with the lemon juice and then whisk in the eggs.
3.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined.
4.  Bake in a preheated 375′ oven for 20ish minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5.  Let cool completely and then you can freeze in a tupperware until you’re ready to eat.
If you make about 16 muffins like we normally do, these come to less than 100 calories a piece and make a perfect mid-morning snack or side-dish to a meal.  They’re gluten free, but filled with all sorts of nutritious gluten free ingredients.  Enjoy!

long time no blog

photo by emilee liverance | emilee liverance photography
(just in case you forgot who I was 😉 )

It has been over 20 days since my last blog post.  I think that’s the longest stretch I’ve gone.  I wish I had a good excuse for not blogging, like I was traveling across Europe or something amazing like that, but no, I just wasn’t feeling up to it.  I had a definite lack of inspiration.  Everything I was writing was getting to the point it sounded dull to me and like it had no life in it.  I figured I would rather not blog than write things that sounded meaningless.  And if I didn’t even like how I was writing, why would anyone even care to read?

Well, for some reason I feel like inspiration is coming back to me, or that I need another creative outlet in my life right now.  A few things have changed, or rather happened, recently that have made me not so thrilled about life.  A major one being my foot.  I finally went to the doctor a week ago after having an ache in my left foot for three weeks before that point.  I would have/should have gone in earlier but I kept waiting for my new insurance cards to come in so I actually knew what was going to be covered.  I finally just asked for my number to be able to look up online what my coverage was and was able to make an appointment that same day.  Luckily my office got to leave at noon last week (still not sure why but I would never question this 😉 ), so I had plenty of time to call around to find someone to go to.

I got frustrated with the online search to find a doctor to visit and decided I would pay the $75 (instead of $30) copay to visit the urgent care rather than find a doctor who could help.  Well, luckily the clinic I ended up calling (because it looked the prettiest/newest) did not have urgent care during the week but the receptionist was so helpful in helping me find a doctor who had availability that same day.

I had looked up the pain I was having online and had convinced myself that I had a stress fracture from running.  The pain was in the exact place that normal foot stress fractures happen and it was very tender and I was barely able to walk without limping and causing a scene.  This of course made me really worried, especially since I was supposed to start my Disney 1/2 Marathon training on October 16th, but some stress fractures take months to heal, especially when they are on highly utilized areas so I also had myself convinced that I would not be able to run the race at all.  So of course I went in expecting the worst.  I also thought that I would experience the first x-ray/bone scan in my life.

So I went in, the doctor felt my foot and asked me questions on where I was experiencing pain.  He wasn’t a Podietrist, but he was very doubtful that it was a fracture of any kind.  He said it was more than likely tendonitis from running.  I think it does, unfortunately, have a bit to do with my new minimalist running shoes and that there is not a whole lot of cushion on the sole of the foot.  I may or may not have over-worn them one particular week because I wasn’t using my head…  The doctor was first going to have me take 9 ibuprofen a day – much more aggressive than the 1 I had been taken (hence the not getting better).  He then rethought that since I had been taken some ibuprofen and prescribed a steroid to decrease the swelling.

I do think it’s kind of humerus that I am on a steroid – just waiting for my muscles to start bulging!  The swelling has gone down considerably in the past week and I still have two more pills to take.  I can’t tell yet if that’s going to be enough or if I will have to go on to step 2 – going to see a Podietrist to get steroid injections.  Needless to say, my marathon training will be put off for a couple of weeks until my foot is 100% better.  I’m still walking more than I should be on it (I just can’t be lazy), and still going to yoga, but that is a whole lot less stress on my foot than running.  So, if my Monday my foot still has this now-dull ache, it’s on to a Podietrist.  I was told this is something that can be healed and not come back again, but I just have to get it to GO AWAY so that I can start my training in a better place.

I even had an awesome 12-week training plan constructed that I will not have to reconfigure.  I think I’ll still post my original so I can look back to it in the future for when I do not have tendonitis and am beginning training for a 1/2.

Apparently I am feeling a bit more wordy and inspired.  Or frustrated and can’t run to release the frustration.  Either way, I think I’ll be picking blogging back up for the time being ;).

meatless monday: fleur de sel butternut squash soup

I have my first cold of the season.  Normally, it takes longer than this to get sick.  I think I even made it until January or February last year before I had to invest in a life’s supply of kleenex.  Needless to say, I was miserable today.  Sneezy, sniffly, drowsy eyes, sneezing… yuck.  I was happy to get home and be able to have some nice, hot soup for dinner.  The only thing that would have made it better is the crock pot.

When I got home, I got to work cutting up 2 large butternut squash to start it roasting.  This step could definitely be done ahead of time to cut down on preparation on a weeknight.  The final product was so creamy and delicious, it was definitely worth the wait :).  Fleur de sel was the perfect addition to butternut squash.  It is the french sea salt that is commonly used in salted caramel flavored desserts, making it the perfect salt for a sweeter variety squash.  Per bottle, it is a bit pricy.  But I have been using the container I got at Williams Sonoma for almost two years and it was totally worth it.

Fleur de sel Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 large butternut squash
  • 2-3 cups veggie broth, depending on thickness desired
  • 1/8t-1/4t garam masala
  • 1/8t-1/4t cumin
  • 1t fleur de sel, or more to taste
  • kale, optional
  • optional topping: pepitas
1. Preheat oven to 425′.  Cut up squash in small cubes and roast for 45 minutes to an hour.
2. Once the squash is cooked, put it into a blender (in batches if necessary) with the veggie broth.  Puree until smooth.
3. Once the squash is all pureed, put into a soup pot and bring to a boil on the stovetop, adding the spices and kale.  Thin, if needed, with additional veggie broth.
4. Top with pepitas and additional fleur de sel.
This might be my favorite butternut squash soup.  I do love Trader Joe’s, but this one is 100x thicker.  This will definitely be made again this year!

Bring on more soup!  And more importantly, bring on the kleenex!