Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fuel Up to Play for 60

I love the Governor Branstad’s push for Iowa to be the healthiest state.  Especially in the face of fewer recess and gym class hours for school kids.  

They held a Fuel Up To Play 60 assembly at a middle school in the metro this week.  I was shocked when I found out that one brave 4th grader spoke at the assembly saying he was working to lose weight and eat healthy.  I wouldn’t have dreamed of admitting to 4th graders I was overweight when I was that age.  Actually… I wouldn’t admit to 4th graders that I am overweight TODAY! They’re mean! 

If you don’t know what Fuel Up to Play 60 is, it’s a program supported by Michelle Obama that lets students decide how to make their school a healthier place.  They let students come up with the ideas and challenges students to earn prizes for the work they do.  

It’s a commitment to healthy eating and 60 minutes of physical activity every day…  


60 minutes?  How many of us get 45 minutes 5 days a week and think we’re total gym rats. 
This is a wake-up call to me.  If we’re asking our kids to get 60 minutes of activity, why are we short changing ourselves? 

Now they’re not asking these kids to do 60 minute intense cardio training for 7 days a week… that’s actually frowned upon.  Our bodies need time to recover.  But a recovery day or two can easily include a walk at a park, or a bike ride on some of Des Moines’ awesome trails.  


Honestly, when I was just writing that, I was trying to think of things adults do to “play”.   Kids fly kites, play on playgrounds, build sand castles, play in the pool, go sledding… When I was a kid, it was almost expected that I would go out every summer night and run around and play some version of tag in the dark.  But now a night of “play” is ordering Chinese and watching a movie.  

I challenge you (and myself) to really consider 60 minutes of “play” every day.  Get outside, clean the house, heck… fly a kite! Play on a playground! Who says those things are for kids.  Spend less time on Facebook and more time dancing.  Spend more time chatting with your friends on the path around Gray’s lake and less time in front of the Real Housewives of wherever.  

I’m ready to play.  Who’s in?


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Granola Bars That Taste Ah-MAZING

I have made countless failed attempts at chewy granola bars.  I spend a lot of money on granola bars, and I would love to know exactly what's going into them... but I could never find the right combo of ingredients I wanted to consume and taste.  

I only had to pick up one ingredient for these... it was a trail mix of fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips.  I call that "more bang for your buck".  
One major problem... these are SO good. I could eat the whole batch. 
  • Granola cereal, 1 cup (Thanks to my mom, I had some delicious mom-made granola.)
  • Rolled Oats, 1 cup
  • Good Sense Trail Mix Caramel Nut Delite, 1 cup (or another fruit/nut mix)
  • Flour, white, 1/2 cup
  • Egg, fresh, 1 large
  • Brown Sugar, 3 tbsp packed
  • Vegetable Oil, 3 tbsp
  • Honey, 3 tbsp
  • Cinnamon, ground, 1/4 tsp
Mix the granola, rolled oats, fruit/nut mix and flour together in a large bowl.  

In a separate bowl, mix the egg, brown sugar, vegetable oil, honey and cinnamon.  

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and spread out into a 8x8 pan.  Press the mixture down with your hands.  

Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes. 

Makes 10

Nutrition Facts
Cals: 247.8
Fat: 13 g
Cholesterol: 18.5 mg
Sodium: 32.8 mg
Carbs: 28.9 g
Fiber: 2.9 g
Sugars: 13.7 g
Protein: 5.7 g

A few notes: 
-I found that trail mix for pretty cheep at Dahl's, so I used it instead of buying mixed nuts and dried fruit.  The nutrition facts reflect the change.  
-I loosely followed a recipe from some magazine I cut out months ago... Sorry, I can't remember which mag.  
-The recipe I loosely followed  said this made 18 servings, but the photo made them look about as big as the ones I cut. Take that for what it is.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shit Cyclists Say

I would like to add a few:

Do you know where I can get some tacos?
I work at a shop.
I thought Iowa was flat...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Family Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

We used to make these muffins all the time when I was younger, so I'll consider this a family recipe. 


 I only had a few blueberries that I had frozen this summer, so I got into my frozen mixed berries and literally picked out the blueberries... My friends always joke that I would go to great lengths to make something even if I didn't have the ingredients.  

 Don't mix these bad boys too much or you'll have flat dense muffins.  Mine were perfectly fluffy and yummy.   

Don't mind that there is one muffin missing... It's always a crap shoot finding the right amount of batter to fill each cup to equal exactly 12, so I just filled the cups and let them fall as they pleased.  So it made 11.  Get over it.  

Basic Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup cooking oil

Oven 400°

In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. make a well in the center. Combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just till moistened; batter should be lumpy. Grease muffin cups or line with paper bake cups; fill 2/3 full. Bake in 400° oven for 20 to 25 minutes or till golden. Remove from pans; serve warm. Makes 10-12 muffins.

Blueberry Muffins

Prepare Basic Muffins as above, except combine 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed, and 2 tablespoons additional sugar. Carefully fold into batter.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Turkey Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

AKA one of my favorite foods!  

My roommate Allyson in New Orleans made this one time and I think I ate the leftovers for every meal for a week.   

You can put any seasonings in this.  I used basil, it called for parsley.  

 Get all of your separate parts and fill it up!
 Pack them into that pot you boiled the cabbage in...
 Cover with part cabbage boil water and part tomato spaghetti sauce and cook away.  Yummers!
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
2 quarts water
1 large head of cabbage
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 lb. ground turkey (or pork or beef)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
4 cups tomato puree
1. Remove the center core of the cabbage. (Not as easy as it sounds) Boil 2 quarts of the water in a  stockpot that is not make of aluminum. Add the cabbage and cook for 2-3 minutes until the outer leaves are tender. Remove the outer elaves and continue cooking the rest, removing outer leaves and cooking the interior until all the leaves are cooked and removed. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water.
2. Cut away the bottom of the center vein on each leaf. Place 4 large outer leaves at the bottom of the stockpot.
3. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onion and garlic, cooking until it is golden.
4. Mix onion/garlic misture in a bowl with ground meat, rice, salt, pepper, parsley, green pepper and celery.
5. Place 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the rice mixture on each cabbage leaf. To roll the leaves up, fold in the sides, then begin rolling from the bottom of the leaf, tucking the edge of the leaf under the finished roll. Place the rolled leaves in the stockpot.
6. Mix tomatoes and reserved cabbage water in a bowl. Pour enough into the stockpot to almost cover the cabbage. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 1 hour until the cabbage is tender. Add more reserved tomato/water mix while cabbage cooks if the level drops too far.
Substitution: feel free to swap out a jar of spaghetti suace for the pureed tomatoes. (I did this because I've read bad things about canned tomatoes.  I generally try to avoid them in my own cooking.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lavender Cupcakes with Lemon Filling and a Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

 I've been holding on to some lavender I bought at Seed in the East Village before Christmas.  I had a recipe for cookies, but I just hadn't had the perfect opportunity to make them.  

Today when I was leaving church I concocted a crazy cupcake flavor no doubt swirling around my brain because I've been watching too much Cupcake Wars... 
 Lavender Cupcakes.  Pretty cut and dry. 
 But then I thought about this amazing lemon curd I made in Florida when I was visiting some friends.  mmmm.  Lemon.  But how do I top this prize? A purple cream cheese and honey frosting.  Couldn't have made it better myself... er...
 I pretty much followed the recipe from Yummy Mummy's blog with a few alterations.  
 Filled those suckers with some lemon pie filling. (cheaper than curd, but not as yummy... and it doesn't even touch the yummy-ness of homemade lemon curd.  But I knew if I made homemade lemon curd that none of it would make it into the cupcakes.)
 I didn't have lilac honey, but I had a honey bear from the downtown farmers market this summer.  I would trade local honey for specialty store lilac honey any day.  I added a little more powdered sugar because the frosting wasn't quite stiff enough to pipe. 
 They were a hit at the pot luck! (you can see the lilac specks in this picture! yum.)
 I got plenty of tweets about them... And one of my co-workers even said she would serve this at her imaginary cupcake dream shop and call it the Alisa Cupcake. 

In the future I might grind the lilac buds down a little to encorporate the lilac taste into the cupcake a little more.  However, I'm not sure I would want a stronger lilac taste.  They way it was, it just gave you that, "what is that? I think I like it" taste.  

Lemon Filled Lavender Cupcakes (adapted from yummymummykitchen.com)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self-rising flour (or substitute all purpose flour + 1.5 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F; line a 12 count muffin pan with paper liners.
  • Put the sugar and lavender flowers in a food processor. Process briefly to combine.
  • Tip the lavender sugar into a bowl with the butter and beat together until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, one at a time, then sift in the flour and fold gently. Stir in the milk, then spoon the mixture into the muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 18 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.                                                                                   
lemon pie filling
Use a paring knife to remove a "plug" from your cupcakes. Fill hole with lemon filling.

1 stick butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1.5 teaspoons honey (available at gourmet food stores and lavender farms)
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Beat butter, cream cheese, and honey together until combined. Beat in sugar until stiff enough.
Frost cupcakes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Upcoming Projects

I love projects.  I love working on new things, doing new activities.  I get bored with the same old thing quickly. 
I think that’s why I moved so much after college.  I’ve been in Des Moines for over a year! That’s a pretty big deal to me. 
That being said, when I find something that I love, I stick with it.  I’m not totally afraid of commitment; I just happily keep adding and adding to my already full cup. 
So here are a few things I’m throwing around in my mind:
-Vlogging.  Or incorporating more vlogging into my current blogging. 
-Tri a tri… again… I trained for a sprint triathlon last summer and I got mono and was hospitalized the week before the race.  I’ve been nervous about tri-ing again.  I’m sure it was a freak accident… but it worries me that I might not know how to properly train, rest and feed my body while I work toward that goal. 
-Get serious about Chantilly Lace.  We pushed for about a month and a half, and it all culminated with a profit-less Market Day…  That, combined with my busy schedule and my mom’s ever changing (wonder where I get it?) list of activities, creates a stalled business. 
-Decide whether or not I want to do RAGBRAI again.  I had a dream last night that I went and I had forgotten all my gear.  I didn’t have any shirts to wear and I had only brought high-heeled boots.  If I were to analyze that dream, I would say it shows my anxiety about not being prepared for RAGBRAI. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rediculous Resolutions

My New Years resolution for 2011 was to finish a sprint triathlon.  Well... let me tell you how that went.

I trained like a mad woman.  I was in the pool so often that one of the ladies mentioned it just last week.  I RAN.  I hate running... but I was running more than I ever had.  I was two weeks away from my triathlon and I got mono.  Not just mono... In-the-hospital mono. 

I was weak and lost most of my training... So I walked into the check-in and took my swag and left.  It was a sad day.  My friend brought me to Tasty Taco to make me feel better.  It helped.

This year, I'm hesitant to set any resolutions.  I usually resolve to make good decisions weekly, if not daily.  I haven't decided if I want to tackle a tri again... and I haven't recovered from my traumatic RAGBRAI experience quite yet.  And a whole year seems so daunting, if not easy to procrastinate.

So my resolutions for this year are monthly.  I will: 
-Try a new workout every month
-Give a little something every month
-Learn about something or someone new every month
-Pay off my debt (by paying a little each month.) 

I was in the best shape of my life last summer.  And I hope to mimic that this year with daily decisions to eat right and workout like I'm training for something.  

P.S. Check out the new trails map by Des Moines Bike Collective: http://www.cyclecentraliowa.com/