Sunday, January 26, 2014

week 4 of 52 - Chocolate Raspberry Quinoa Cupcakes

The recipe you have all been waiting for...Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes, this time with raspberry :)

Yum...cupcakes :)
So these are gluten free and because the recipe calls for quinoa I like to think they are the perfect run recovery food.

This time I made them with raspberry (birthday request for the lovely @jodiethinks).  Chocolate and raspberry go very well together and instead of adding some synthetic raspberry syrup thing to the icing I opted for fresh organic raspberry. I also added a few to the batter and placed one raspberry on the top of each cupcake (so very Martha Stewart!).

I'm  working on a vegan version of this recipe so when that happens I will be sure to post. So enough blathering about how awesome these cupcakes are, here is the recipe:

Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes 
Preheat oven to 350F.

Blend together: 

4 large eggs

1/3 cup of milk (I use almond milk)

2 tsp vanilla

Add and blend well:

2 cups cooked quinoa

¾ cup of butter, melted, then cooled


Mix in medium bowl:

1 ½ cups loosely packed brown sugar (I use cane sugar or coconut sugar)

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder,

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

 ½ tsp. baking soda,

½ tsp. salt

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, mix well.

Use 2- 3 heaping tablespoons of batter for each cupcake and you will make approximately 20 "reasonably sized" cupcakes. 

Bake for 25 minutes in a convection oven. If using non-convection oven, I move the cupcake trays between oven racks around the half-way mark. This makes the cupcakes think they are in a convection oven!

I cook up my quinoa the night before and cool it in the fridge overnight. One cup dried quinoa = 2 cups cooked quinoa.

For the blending, I use a 10cup food processor for this recipe. I blend the quinoa until it is completely pulverized this way you cannot taste the graininess in the finished product. Because my food processor is quite old and the motor is dying I blend the wet ingredients for about 10 minutes.

Icing I use is Pamela's because it is gluten-free. I only use half a bag of the icing mix for one batch of cupcakes. I add fresh fruit to the icing to give it color (in cases of vanilla icing) and extra flavour. Decorating the cupcakes with fresh fruit makes you look like you put a lot more effort into this than you actually did. 

Enjoy! Let me know if you have any ideas for vegan recipes or for ways to reduce the sugar.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week 3 of 52: Why this week is way better than last week

So if anyone was questioning if last week was in fact the most depressing week of the year, I’m here to clear that up for you.

To put it succinctly, yes it was.

I know for me and pretty much everyone I talked to, last week was a low energy week for all of us. For me it was just a tiny bit worse than that. After I got the sporadic crying and impending sense of doom out of the way things got a lot better. I have my GP to thank for helping in the sense she did alert me to the fact that it wasn’t just me slipping back down into the garbage disposal of depression again, everyone was feeling a bit off, even her.

“Andrea! I’ve been feeling bad all week, it’s like a dark cloud is hanging over me, and my mind is blank, I don’t even know what to say to my patients to help them. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong then someone told me it is the most depressing week of the year!”

And yes this fact made me feel a bit better. It wasn’t just me. I had done nothing wrong. I was just merely existing, living my life in the cold dark North of Canada…and then that got me thinking…why am I here in Canada when everyone else does that vacation thing to sunny places at this time of year???

And then something awesome happened.

I decided I'm getting the fuck out of Canada and going somewhere warm for a couple of weeks.

It couldn’t be just anywhere though because let’s face it I don’t have a heck of a lot of energy right now to be uber adventurous. So I was thinking maybe a resort, something all-inclusive, somewhere I would never normally think to stay at but might be into right now because all I really care about is sun and relaxing.

But of course the more I thought about it the more I realized it isn’t just about the sun and relaxing it is about the destination. I mean I haven’t travelled anywhere by plane since Israel. And that was in 2010. So if I’m going to go to all the trouble of travelling I might as well go somewhere I’ve never been before. So that cancelled out Mexico and Brasil as possibilities

I then thought about Hawaii, I mean I have been there twice but I was a kid so does that really count as being there? Not really. Only problem was I would need to budget for flight and accommodation, likely to be expensive on such short notice. However, it seemed like a real possibility as it had sun, it had places to run and it was a place I could easily stand for a couple of weeks by myself. I figured I would be on my own because the mere thought of trying to think of someone to travel with- someone who could travel on short notice and wasn't annoying- felt exhausting.

And then it came to me. Qatar! My good friend Ann lives there. And I haven’t seen Ann in at least 5 years. I haven’t travelled to Qatar yet because timing was never quite right. But now, even though I felt imperfect, timing was perfect.Timing was perfect because of my perceived imperfections.

Timing was perfect because I was so damned depressed, it actually motivated me to go somewhere sunny. And because I was so unmotivated to travel for the past few years I would be flying for free. Free?! I know, free. Turns out the MasterCard I’ve had for the last few years collects points (which I conveniently forgot about). Apparently I’ve collected a shit load of points over these past few years; enough points to pay for my flight to the Middle East on Emirates Airlines. How sweet is that? Well just check out the airline’s website and you will see.

So in February I will be off to Qatar for some much needed sun and visiting with my good friend Ann.  Planning this trip is serving as a good reminder that even though one week can seriously feel like the world is ending that doesn’t mean the following week can’t turn out to be excellent.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week 2 of 52: Now what do I do? Top 5 goals for 2014

So it's a new year, which means time to come up with some goals. No I did not mean resolutions, those things that no one ever does for very long (January gym goers I’m looking at you!). I meant goals. Goals you work at and eventually you accomplish them. So now that we are clear here are my top 5 goals for 2014!

1. Run a Successful Half Marathon
I know you are thinking “but Andrea you have run a half marathon, I don’t understand this goal!” So let me explain. Running a successful half marathon is not the same as running a half marathon. I get that for a lot of people success is just getting out there and doing it but I’m not a lot of people. I’m me and I’m a bit more fucking specific than that. So success will be defined as giving my all while running a half marathon AND being in good health. Basically I want to run a half marathon without being in the throws of an iron deficiency or any other health related nonsense that my body wants to come up with during race time. So yes, last year I ran two half marathons but one was in the midst of the iron deficiency and the 2nd was on the tail end of the iron deficiency. So I would like to not have that happen this year. My next shot at this goal is the Comox half marathon on March 23, 2014. I’m just hoping my depression lifts in time for that.

2. Run a race, not PR and be happy with that
Yeah, it seems like a strange goal unless you have had to listen to me over-analyze a race I wasn’t happy with. Just try saying the words “Cedar 12K” to some of my run friends and you will see what I mean. Yeah last year’s Cedar 12k was a disaster but only because I let it. It really could have been a success if I just defined success a bit differently. So this year I would like to try working towards being less obsessive when it comes to my “failures”. First way to do that I suspect is create reasonable expectations or no expectations when it comes to racing. So to have some fun with this I thought I would create a very low expectation and that is run Cedar 12k and not PR. Or run a 10k and not PR. Basically I’m going to run a race and not PR and then I’m going to be bloody happy about it!

3. Run 2000k this year.
Chris (@TheCesspit) my blogger challenger came up with this one. His idea was to run 1000k this year and get other people to join in the challenge and see if enough of us can run across Canada (6000k). I said I would run 2000k because I figure that is 40k a week and I was doing that before my foot started seriously bothering me. So I’m a bit behind this goal this year but I also have the whole year ahead of me. So I feel optimistic that I will catch up and make this goal.

Week 1 = 25k
Week 2 = 33k
Total 2014 KM = 58k.

Also Wendy (goal 1000k) and Kim (goal 2000k) have joined the group so assuming none of us sustain any crazy injuries we should make it to the East Coast by New Years Eve!

4. Blog once a week for 2014
Chris and I competed against each other in the 2013 blog a day ‘til Xmas challenge and both won. So since having a draw is such a foreign concept to me Chris and I came up with a round 2. This time we have to blog once a week for the whole year. That’s 52 blog posts that need to be posted by the end of each week (Sunday).  Chris is a worthy opponent and is unlikely to miss a post so you can expect at least 50 more posts from me this year. Damn you Chris!!

5. Sew my first running dress
If you have been following my blog then you know I have no idea how to sew (see The Sociologist Learns to Sew Part 1 and Part 2). It is always a good idea to learn something new and this year it is going to be sewing! Yeah I’m totally putting my Suzy Homemaker Hat on this year. But seriously it is better than that because I really want to learn how to sew. Meaning I want to eventually be able to make my own running dresses without having to use a pattern. And I really want to understand the difference between different types of fabrics and stitching. Yeah, I know it is quite an ambitious goal as it involves a lot of steps starting with the basics such as being able to read a pattern! But I’m looking forward to accomplishing it, whether it is this year or next!

So there we have it my top 5 goals this year.  Leave a comment and let me know what your goals are for the year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflections on 2013 at the dawn of 2014

“The woods are lovely dark and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep.” ~ Robert Frost

Well, I can say with great certainty, that last year was pretty rough and I’m not looking forward to repeating any of it anytime soon.  As always, I learned a lot, dealt with a lot of shit and grew just as much. Next year I know will be a lot better because I have last year to compare it to, so 2014 can’t help but be a good year by default.

Despite the unpleasantness of a lot of 2013, I’m really glad I experienced it all because I’m pretty happy with my end result (umm hello that would be me!). As you know, I pretty much love me. And I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of last year happening.  So I have that to be thankful for.

Continuing in this vein of my-so-called-Buddhism, let’s look back on the three main disasters of Andrea’s 2013 that could have destroyed everything if I let it but instead I chose to make them lessons for growth.  

The Heart Shatters…
Just in case I forgot what it felt like to have my heart ripped out of my chest cavity, 2013 provided me ample opportunity for reminding me of that and in excruciating detail. The whole love experience felt like I was watching a train wreck in slow motion on a tape loop for the whole fucking year! Yes I love a lot and not usually with much thought put into it. And not surprising this pattern leads to a lot of heartbreak. So after wiping my tears away for the millionth time I decided to learn some lessons in love.

Love Lesson #1: Slow down!

It would be super adorable watching me fall in love and get all swoony within a matter of 20 minutes if I lived in a romantic comedy but I don’t. Just simply learning to slow down the falling in love process has helped me truly see the person I’m falling in love with for who they are. And as predicted, it is hard for people to keep their shit together if you make them wait for it. And I have to say I have avoided a couple of additional train derailments utilizing this “wait and see” strategy.  

Love Lesson #2: It’s ok to be selfish! 

You would think I have this one covered but sadly I do not. So in an effort to avoid the pain that only comes with giving my love to someone who takes full advantage of that without giving anything in return, I have learned to ask first “what am I getting out of this?” If the answer is “a shit load of pain!” or “nothing” it’s time to leave that person behind. Needless to say, it was a bit of a shock to learn that I was staying in relationships because the other person wanted it that way and I never even bothered to consider my own opinion on the matter. Well I assure you 2014 will not be seeing any more of that selfless relationship behaviour!

The Body Fails…
Well nothing sucked more than starting 2013 running very strong and then watching my performance get worse and worse as the year progressed. Yes, I started 2013 easily running a 5min/km race pace and by May I could barely sustain a 6min/km race pace. To say that having my body fail was a frustrating experience is the greatest understatement of the year. Especially when the reasons I was told it was failing were incorrect and I knew they were. Always trust your intuition is a great adage but hard to follow when everyone is telling you the opposite including medical professionals. I accumulated a lot of self-doubt during this year because of that until I finally found myself a competent GP who correctly diagnosed me with low iron (I knew it!! Life would be so much easier if people just listened to me in the first place!). After that I decided to get myself a run coach, one of the most qualified people I know when it comes to running and improving my performance.  Now I have resolved to only listen to his opinion and anyone who would like to weigh in can expect this response from me: “I’m sorry, are you one of the top performing runners in Canada who has been coaching for over 10 years? No? Then shut the fuck up!” You have been warned.

And the Soul Hollows Out.
Depression. Read my December 22, 2013 blog post if you want to know what depression is for me. Depression and I have been life long friends and this year I think we got married. Horrible analogy, I know. Basically I learned to finally accept that depression is a part of me. Acceptance is not just about accepting all the good qualities about oneself it is also about accepting the flaws too. After all I am human and certainly not perfect. And I’m ok with that.  Finally.

So there we have it, the disasters of 2013 reframed in a positive lesson format. Have to say I’m kind of impressed with the happiness I’m feeling right now, as there were many times last year I did not think this day would ever come again.

So I hope you all take some time to reflect on your 2013, the good, the bad and the ugly because in the end it all adds up to a wonderful life lived.

Looking forward to writing at you in 2014 :)