When bloggers meet: weekend recap

This past weekend I was quite the social butterfly. Friday night kicked off the weekend festivities with dinner at my favourite Calgary restaurant UNA, with my favourite childhood friends! We ate so much delicious food and immensely enjoyed one anothers company! (note to self only 2 pizzas and kale salad are needed for 4 people).

UNA Pizza

Saturday the fiance and I hit up a spin class at the new studio by our house, Yoga and Beyond (Centre Street). I love Keith’s classes and highly recommend checking them out if you want to swim in sweat and get your butt kicked. Keith’s style is the closest I’ve found in Calgary to an athletic ride (as in no fancy disco lights or raves). Unfortunately Keith wasn’t teaching that morning :( but we still had a great workout.

Saturday evening I attended a blogger Christmas meet-up hosted by Ange and Jen. Jen had the brilliant idea to get some of the Alberta health bloggers together in real life (not online life) and the response was, as Jen puts it, “Hell yes!”. I was especially looking forward to meeting Leana as I love her blog and found so much motivation in her writing and training throughout my first triathlon season. Note: she’s just as awesome in real life!

Jen. Sam, Me, Jo, Leanna, Ange

Jen. Sam, Me, Jo, Leana, Ange 

 

So I got the memo to wear an ugly Christmas sweater but apparently everyone else got the memo to wear cute sweaters, lol. You’ll notice mine is authentic and from the Value Village collection.

White wines

We each brought snacks and two bottles of wine! Jen is full of great ideas and came up with a fun game for the evening (hence two bottles each). One bottle was for a blind taste test and the other was added to the prize bag! With no planning we ended up with equal reds and whites so we split them into two rounds and voted on the best. The winner of each round split the prize bottles.

The winners!

The winners!

Angela’s bottle won for the whites and Jen’s won for the red.

Everyone brought such yummy dishes including lasagna rolls, smoked salmon, baked cauliflower, chocolate fun cake and peppermint chocolate brownies. Yum yum. I made baked brie with truffle honey in a puffed pastry but forgot to take a photo.

We had such a fun evening and it was a pleasure to spend time with the ladies I know and to meet the ones I didn’t. Also, small world; Jo’s boss is a relative of mine and we have very similar jobs! I find it’s pretty easy to find common interests with bloggers :)

wine coaster

On Sunday the blogger girls went to a spin class but I had a wine headache and had to meet my cousin for our annual Custer Christmas Baking Day. I’ll recap our baking marathon on Friday!

Overall a very busy social fantastic weekend!

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Canadian Christmas Blogger Swap 2014

Last week I found a parcel waiting for me when I got home from work! Mail that isn’t related to bills or solicitation truly makes my day.

Christmas swap 2014

I signed up to participate in a Christmas Blogger Swap organized by the fabulous Leigh and Lindsey. You sign up, get paired with a Canadian blogger and send them a Christmas ornament. This was an especially exciting opportunity as I bought my tree boxing day last year and this was the first year decorating it! I was paired with Holly from Scattered-Words. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through her blog to get a better sense of who she is. I searched for a couple weeks until I found a homemade one I thought she’d like. You’ll have to check out her blog to see what it looks like.

I was too excited to open the package that I forgot to take a photo, but really who wants to see a wrapped parcel. Behold, my new ornament:

Christmas bird ornament

Thanks so much Holly – it’s perfect! Thanks Leigh and Lindsey for putting the swap together. If you’d like to see all of the swaps click here (on/after December 18th).

Christmas Tree - Strive to Stride

Turkey Dinner Made Easy & Local

Well hello! I realize that I’ve completely disappeared off the face of the blogging planet. The fiance and I had a marvellous vacation in New York last month and it’s been slightly hectic since we’ve returned.  I’m not going to disclose the reason behind the craziness yet but I promise it has the potential to be quite epic!

Now let’s talk about Christmas! One of my favourite things about Christmas is sharing a festive turkey dinner with family. I absolutely love sitting around the table eating a hearty meal, drinking wine and laughing with loved ones. The only downside about feasting (in my opinion) is the grocery shopping ahead of time. Stores are nuts at Christmas and I’m always worried they’re going to run out of the necessities, like cranberries! Hence my love affair with SPUD Calgary. I’ll be placing my Christmas order from the comfort of my couch next week.

Ahh.. Christmas dinner with the family!

Ahh.. Christmas dinner with the family in 2011.

 

Speaking of SPUD I caught a really awesome segment on Global with Bob from SPUD Edmonton where he shared 4 easy tips for a stress-free turkey dinner. I learned so much that I thought I would share:

Step 1 – Local non-frozen bird

Frozen turkeys take 3 days to thaw (3 days!!) and according to Bob if you try to cook a turkey that isn’t completely thawed you’ll have “big problems”! Let’s face it most turkey’s traveling in from outside of the local zone will need to be frozen in order to preserve their freshness. So a fresh, local turkey is already going to save you 72 hours of stress! Not to mention quality ingredients elevate the taste of the final product. So a grain fed, organic turkey who’s lived a cage-free life is most likely a healthier specimen to begin with.

Step 2 – Brine the turkey

The concept of brining makes a lot of sense; think about getting into a sauna, we all sweat! So when you put a turkey into an oven the same thing is happens and all of the juices are pour out of the turkey. In order to keep the meat moist you want to add extra juice! A brine is four ingredients: water, salt, sugar and aromatic (herbs). Easy right?! According to Bob it’s a 25% more salt to sugar ratio and you simply add the ingredients to a very large pot, warm enough to dissolve the sugar and salt. Let the liquid cool before you add the turkey and let sit for 12-16 hours.

Bonus tip: add a bit of apple juice which will give that perfect brown, crisp to the outside of the turkey.

Step 3 – Breast side down

Cook the turkey on the breast side down! This will allow the juices from the brown meat to seep through the breast meat. This will make for a super juicy turkey. After an hour turn the turkey over for the remainder of the cooking time.

Step 4 – Let the turkey rest

When the turkey has reached the appropriate temperature, remove from the oven and cover with tin foil and allow it to rest for 30min before cutting into it! If you carve it right away all of the juices will pour out leaving the turkey dry.

More tips for easy holiday cooking

  • Make a turkey rack with veggies…like carrots! The most important part is to ensure the turkey is elevated from the bottom of the pan
  • Use sea salt or kosher salt. Why? Table salt has iodine and anti-clumping chemical
  • OMG all the men went crazy for this tip. Roast your vegetables on parchment paper to avoid scrubbing the pan!
  • Give your veggies room when roasting which will allow them to crisp up. Clumping them too close together or cooking them in a glass dish will steam the veggies too much
  • Make the stuffing the day ahead by cooking like a casserole
  • My favourite tip is to use unique local ingredients like purple potatoes or multi-colour carrots! You can find these at local farmers markets or order through a program like SPUD

tri-colour carrots from SPUD Calgary

Thanks to Bob from SPUD Edmonton for sharing all of these great holiday tips to make turkey dinner easy. You can watch the Global News clip here.

If you too want to skip the stress of holiday grocery shopping I highly recommend SPUD. You even have time to pre-order your fresh local turkey. BONUS: use my special discount code (LGOLDTHORPE) to receive $20 worth of free groceries!

SPUD Turkey and Holidays

Yes, I am a SPUD ambassador which comes with healthy perks but this post is not sponsored by the company. It is simply based on my experience and opinion and of course great tips from Bob.  

Race Recap: Okanagan Half Marathon

This recap is slightly overdue considering I ran the Okanagan half Marathon Thanksgiving weekend (for my American friends that was October 12).

My goals for this run shifted significantly from the initial plan. I was focused on the 50k and jumping into the triathlon world and hadn’t even considered running a Fall marathon until I received a group text from my two favourite running friends. Well twist my rubber arm, within a couple hours we had settled on running the Okanagan Marathon. I was still training for the 70.3 when I agreed and didn’t foresee my unwillingness to increase milage after the half-iron.

Okanagan Marathon Logo

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I’ve been really enjoying running without purpose and focusing on running for fun until tri training starts again in January. That being said, four weeks before the Okanagan Marathon I had a serious confession to make to my friends, I was in no shape to run a decent marathon and didn’t necessarily want to suffer through a mediocre performance. Luckily both girls were on the same page and we adjusted to the half… and booked a full day wine tour :)

We left on Friday for the 7.5 hour drive from Calgary to Kelowna. The girls were chatty and we were super excited to get the heck out of the city! When we arrived in Kelowna we went straight to package pick-up. The expo (if you can call it that) was set up in a giant tent in the park. We needed our bib number in order to get our package and either a lot of people share the same name as me or I was running three races on Sunday! We joked with the registration volunteers about our wine marathon scheduled the day before the race and I ended up picking which bib number I would use for the race.

Race Sign Up

 

The expo wasn’t exciting at all, however they did have organic, local apples which were absolutely delicious!

Organic Apples

We settled into our hotel room and uncorked a bottle of wine… or two before heading across the street for sushi. The quality of the sushi was excellent but the price was even better. I think we all ate for under $35! We hit the hay shortly after as we had an early morning pick-up for our wine tour!

Wine

Our Okanagan wine tour was with a local company called Uncorked. Our tour guide was extremely personable and knowledgeable about the local wine scene. We started our tasting at Sperling Vineyards where we tasted my favourite wines of the day, including an Old Vines Foch VQA which I immediately bought. Our second stop was at Cedar Creek Estate which was recently purchased by Mission Hill.

Cedar Creek Wine

We took a break for lunch and polished off a couple jugs of Sangria before leaving for our next stop, The View. Next up was Sandhill for a quick tasting before running next door to Tree Brewing for some beer. I like Tree’s Grapefruit Radler but didn’t appreciate the others as much, possibly because I’d been drinking wine all day. Lastly we stopped at Urban Distilleries where we switched to spirits (aka the hard stuff). The vanilla bean vodka was insanely smooth and I considered purchasing a bottle until I reminded myself how little I drink.

Tree Brewing

After the wine tour we found some pasta, downed a bunch of water and made our way to bed. Luckily Kelowna is an hour behind Calgary so waking up for the race felt like a sleep in! Cat had been battling a sore hip and decided  not to inflict any more damage by running (so smart) but still accompanied Ashley and I to the race start. As ashley and I made our way to the corrals we overheard many people talking about how nervous they were and how hard they had trained. Ashley and I started laughing at ourselves as we were probably in the complete opposite position they were – hungover with no “real training”. Luckily we have experience on our side and knew what to expect (quite possibly a lot of pain). We decided that we’d be happy with a conservative (for us) 2:00 half.

The gun went off and Ashely and I started weaving our way through. We started close to the back and spotted the 2:45 pace bunny right away, a fellow Calgarian who I paced the Calgary Marathon with in 2012, we said a quick hello and went on our way. We were fairly chatty throughout the first half of the race and both agreed that we were feeling way better than expected. The first half of the course is through the industrial side of town which was quiet with lots of room for runners. Just as we were making our way through the park/beach section the lead marathon runner ran past, starting his second loop. We caught up to the 2:00 pace bunny, cheered with them as we passed the 10k mark and eventually made it past the large group.

Okanagan Marathon Start

Terry, a fellow Calgary runner (and a very inspiration one I might add), was running the full with a BQ goal. I was so excited when I spotted her and her running buddy Lori! They looked super strong and I yelled out some cheers as we passed. I also knew Ange was running the half and figured I see her somewhere along the course. She spotted me and ran up to give me a bum tap. We chatted briefly, she wasn’t planning on racing but mentioned how good she felt and decided to try for a PB. I was just getting into a zone and somehow lost her without saying goodbye. Bad runner! At around 13k Ashley hollered that she was taking a bathroom pit stop but told me to keep going. I threw in my other earphone and continued on. I felt great! I was fuelling appropriately, the temperature was excellent and I was enjoying myself immensely.

Forgive me, I ran phone free and don't have pics. Borrowed from Marathon-photos.com

Forgive me, I ran phone free and don’t have pics. Borrowed from Marathon-photos.com

What I like about out and back races is that I can use reference points to gage distance and effort. I knew the little bridge was about 800m to the finish. I got to the 800m and picked up a bit of speed into the home stretch. I crossed at 1:52 and was incredibly happy with that. I seriously think that if I didn’t do the wine tour I could have PB’d (sub 1:47) and if I actually trained I would have really surprised myself. No regrets though I had so much fun! Ashley finished shortly after and we found Cat for a celebratory hug.

Borrowed from Okanagan Marathon's FB

Borrowed from Okanagan Marathon’s FB

Overall we had another phenomenal girls running trip!

A few notes about the Okanagan Marathon:

  • I like the idea of a 2x loop course for the marathon. If I decide to try and BQ one day this might be the race for me. It’s flat as can be and I like the idea of knowing what lies ahead on the second half
  • The course did get a little congested in a few areas where the full marathoners were going the opposite direction for their second loop. I feel like this would have been frustrating for some people
  • Expo and swag isn’t anything special. I’m not complaining about this but it’s something to note if you really like the “whole” race experience
  • There are very limited hotels close to the race start/finish, however parking was super simple and free
  • Volunteers were amazing!
  • Very good selection of food, at least when the half finished. I can’t speak to the full

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Race Recap: Banff Ekiden Relay

Although I haven’t written about running in a while, I promise you I have been running.

I was recently bestowed the great honour of joining some of my favourite Calgary bloggers on a relay team. The Little Bloggy Blue Birds team was established last year for the Banff Ekiden Relay and you can tell by the photos these ladies know how to have a good time and in style! One of last years members was unable to make the event this year and I was offered her spot. I immediately accepted and jumped into the outfit planning process.

What is Ekiden?

An ancient Japanese system of mail delivery. Couriers would run from station to station in a task called Ekiden. We didn’t deliver any mail, however we did carry a unicorn! The Banff Ekiden relay is 5 legs of varying distances that combined equal 42km or a marathon!

The Team

Photo Credit to Sue @dothingsalways

Photo Credit to Sue @dothingsalways

Cori – Read. Write. Run. Mom
Michelle – Fine Fettle Frets 
Tina – Fabulosi-T
Susan – Do Things Always
Me!

These ladies are a boat load of fun! We met for coffee a couple weeks ago so I could meet Cori (some how our paths haven’t crossed until now) and avoid the awkward “Hi, I’m Lindsay. Now lets hang out all day” situation. The team decided on a rainbow/unicorn theme which quickly exploded with the most ridiculously funny hashtags ever! If you followed our Twitter and Instagram posts you know what I’m talking about.

Banff Ekiden Little Bloggy Blue Birds

We ordered unicorn rainbow sharting socks from sockittome.com and when the package arrived we found a stow away – Donnie Wahlberg! As you’ll see the Donnie trading card became the official mascot for the day. We even named our unicorn after him.

sockittome

Photo credit to @khourianya

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Leg 1 – 7.8km

Sue strapped Donnie the unicorn into her pack, secured “The Shart” (rainbow unicorn tail) and started us off with a 7.8km run past the Cave and Basin.

Sue Banff Ekiden Leg 1

Leg 2 – 13km

Deemed the baby of the group I offered to take the longest leg of the course. Sue came up the hill and the crew quickly disassembled “The Shart” with nascar pit stop like speed and reattached to my backside. I took Donnie and strapped him into a water bottle holder and away we went. My section of the course started down a huge hill and all I could think about was having to go back up it. The day before the race I thought it was a good idea to do stairs and bootcamp with a friend; needless to say my legs were feeling pretty heavy. This leg was primarily through the Fairmont Banff Springs golf course which is unbelievably stunning.

Donnie Herb of Elk Banff Ekiden Relay

I came across a herd of Elk hanging out on the green. On the way back I caught a beautiful view of the waterfall.

The home stretch is up a very, very long hill! My team was at the top cheering me on and waiting for the handoff.

Lindsay Leg 2

 

Leg 3 – 4.3km

Cori was up next. She had a fractured leg earlier in the year and has been nursing it back to health. Ekiden was her comeback to running and she rocked it. Leg 3 starts up hill (Tunnel Mountain), drops down and then climbs back up that horrible hill to the start/finish. Cori mentioned that Donnie the unicorn talked her up that silly hill!

Photo credit @khourianya

Photo credit @khourianya

Leg 4 – 5.4km

We had a bit of a rocky start to the 4th leg as someone was taking a potty break. Michelle was scheduled to run the MEC marathon the day after so requested a shorter leg. Michelle and Donnie breezed through the canoe docks and back up to meet tina for the finale.

Michelle Leg 4

Leg 5 – 11.7km

Tina is a powerhouse. She just recently finished an ultra Regnar Relay in New York and is set to do another in Vegas next month. She was also scheduled to run the MEC half marathon the next day but assured us that this distance would work perfectly for her back-to-back training. Tina had a minor annoyance with “The Shart” but Sue was kind enough to run alongside Tina to make adjustments. Tina’s leg was hilly but that didn’t stop her from putting out a strong effort. We herd our number being called and eagerly went out to the finish to cheer her home!

Tina Leg 5

 

From the race organizers to volunteers and post race lunch this race was exceptional! The volunteers were so cheerful (which could have been because we were the only ones dressed up) and the lunch was impressive. We planned to go to Nourish Bistro for lunch after the run so I settled on a couple cookies but the chili looked and smelled heavenly.

Banff Ekiden Medals

Cori puts Martha Stewart to shame. She hand made unique medals for our team and got us these super cute bird necklaces. She’s a rockstar and the best team captain ever.

Almost everyone on the team has a food allergy so Nourish Bistro was the perfect choice. I ordered a veggie burger but everyones dishes looked scrumptious. I’ll have to go back for dinner one of these days.

Shwings

We got home around 6pm and I was bagged. A day of running, cheering and full belly laughing is draining. I took a nice warm bath while watching the Walking Dead and passed out before 9pm. I’m so happy the “Little Bloggy Blue Birds” invited me to join there team and hope to do another relay with these ladies again.

SPUD Calgary

Oh and a big thank you to SPUD Calgary for keeping us fuelled for the run with organic bananas, apples and Larabars!

Cori put together a pretty sweet Storified if you’d like to reply the day (click here)

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Foodie Friday: Calgary Cooks

Happy Friday! I’ve been horrible at cooking at home this week. I was in Kelowna over Thanksgiving, had dinner at the Longview Steak House for my mom’s birthday on Wednesday and a couple friends came over for dinner last night (one of them made dinner for me!). So long story is, I don’t have any recipes to share this week,

I am excited that a beautiful new cookbook found it’s way to my office while I was away! One of the restaurants I work for is featured in the book and I’ve been dying to get my hands on a copy.

Calgary Cooks Cookbook

 

Calgary Cooks is a collection of recipes from Calgary’s top chefs. I opened the book and was shrieking with joy at the very first recipe – Anejo’s guacamole! Yes, guacamole seems like such a simple dip but you haven’t had guac until you’ve had Anejo’s made fresh at your table. Now it will be made fresh in my kitchen.

Another goldmine, the recipes from UNA Pizza + Wine which is my all time favourite pizza place in Calgary. The tiny little restaurant is a popular spot and you have to get there early to get a seat. I took my sister to UNA a couple years ago and she was blown away! One of our favourite dishes (so many favourites) is the meatballs. Well, guess what recipe is in Calgary Cooks? The meatball recipe! I immediately send to my sister.

Calgary Cooks Cookbook

 

I’m in love with this book. It has extremely high-quality photos, lovely bios of the chefs and most importantly some beyond amazing recipes. I’m delighted that Calgary’s chefs shared so many of their signature recipes and can’t wait to try them.

Some other dishes that excite me:

  • Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup with Truffle Honey – The Coup
  • Elk Lasagna (if I can find Elk) – Cucina
  • Sticky Toffee Doughnuts – Jelly Modern Doughnuts
  • Black Truffle and White Cheddar Fondue – The Living Room
  • Tiramisu – Teatro
  • Kale Caesar Salad – UNA Pizza + Wine
  • Chicken Fattee with Rice, Flatbread and Spiced Yogurt – The Cookbook Co. Cooks
  • Pan-seared B.C. Halibut and Spot Prawns with Morel, English Pea and Chorizo Ragout – Catch & the Oyster Bar
Calgary Cooks Cookbook

What better way to spend a Friday afternoon “researching” on your desk with a new cookbook?

Do you have a favourite cookbook or a new one for the Fall?

Foodie Friday: Cinnzeo Clone Cinnamon Buns

The 21 Day Fall Reset ended on Sunday and for the most part I’ve been able to keep up with many of the healthy habits. During the last week of the reset a friend emailed me a recipe for cinnamon buns and couldn’t get the image out of my mind. So in celebration of completing the reset I made a batch.

I’ve been working on mastering the cinnamon bun for about a year. These are seriously deadly and taste just like the ones you buy at the mall! Oh and there is nothing healthy about them!

Cinnamon_Bun_cover

Cinnamon Buns

Makes about 12 cinnamon buns (with extra icing) 

Ingredients for the dough:

1 package quick rising yeast
1 cup almond milk (or dairy milk)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter (room temp.)
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

Ingredients for the filling:

1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ cup butter

Ingredients for the frosting:

½ cream cheese
½ butter
1¾ cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 drops lemon flavour

Directions for the dough:

1. In a small glass bowl dissolve yeast in luke warm milk. Add a tbsp of sugar to active the yeast and allow to sit for 5min to activate.
2. While yeast is activating, cream the butter. Add the yeast mixture, remainder of the sugar, eggs and salt. Mix on low until incorporated. Add flour one cup at a time until dough forms.
3. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands. Place back in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm area (I turn the light on in my oven and let the dough rise there). Let the dough rise for about 1 hour or until it’s approximately doubled in size.
4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface in the shape of a rectangle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.

This is what yeast mixture should look like when activated.

This is what yeast mixture should look like when activated.

Directions for the filling:

1. In a small bowl melt the butter in the microwave. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir.

Directions to assemble:

1. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving about 1 inch border. Gently roll dough into a fairly tight roll.
2. With a serrated knife, cut into 12 pieces and place into a lightly greased rectangular cake pan.
3. Back at 350° for approximately 12 minutes or until the buns turn golden and filling bubbles.

Best Cinnamon Bun Recipe

Directions for frosting:

1. In a Kitchen Aid mixer blend the cream cheese and butter for 3-4min on a low speed.
2. Switch attachments to a whisk and whip for 6min on med-high speed (about 6-7 speed).
3. Add half of the icing sugar and mix on low until incorporated. Add the remaining icing sugar and mix for another min on medium speed.
4. Whip frosting for 1 more minute.
5. Frost the cinnamon buns when cool and store in an air tight container.

CinnamonBun

*I microwave my cinnamon bun for 20 seconds and add a touch more icing before diving in!

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5 Active Friend Dates for Active Nation Day

I’ve been really enjoying active dates with friends lately. I find it difficult to get together with friends in the summer but now that the corporate world is settling back into routine (and school is back for some friends) it’s becoming easier to see everyone. I’m lucky that most of my friends are fairly active individuals and agree to do things that allow us to catch-up and move at the same time.

My 5 Favourite Active Friend Dates!

1. Smoothie + Walk
Grab or make a smoothie-to-go and stroll through a unique neighbourhood, park or path

Smoothie

2. Morning Run + Breakfast
Find a new route or old favourite and enjoy a morning run followed by breakfast at a diner or someones house! You’ll usually beat the “hangover” crowd for breakfast too

Breakfast

3. Girls Race Weekend
Pick a fun run in a different city and go for a weekend girls trip! The Nike Women’s Race and SeaWheeze are great options for an estrogen packed weekend

SeaWheeze

4. Hiking + Picnic
If you have good hiking trails in your area pick one and pack a lunch to enjoy at the peak or along the way. I’ve had so many fun hiking trips with girlfriends and you never have to worry about running into a bear… the constant talking and giggling will scare them off :)

Hiking

5. Yoga Night
Not always the best place to talk, however you’ll get a good stretch and you can always go for a herbal tea when you’re done

Tea

Active Nation Day

ActiveNationDay

September 28th was Active Nation Day in celebration of all things active, healthy, and authentic. Want to see what all the buzz was about? Check out social media using #ActiveNationDay to get ideas on how other people are getting out there and what they did yo celebrate yesterday! Download the free LJ App to track your movement and contribute alongside others.

It’s not too late to learn the#LJMove and post your own video for your chance to win $1000!  Visit nowmoveit.com for more information, register in your nearest city, and get involved!

What did I do for Active Nation Day? I met two girlfriends for an early morning run around the reservoir and enjoyed a wonderful home cooked breakfast with them after. I also wrapped up my last day of the Fall Reset: 21 Day Clean Eating Challenge!

What did you do?

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Foodie Friday: Homemade Almond Butter

Foodie Friday

This week has flown by and I’m only 2 days away from being done my 21 Day Clean Eating Challenge! I’ll post about my last week and the final results of the Fall reset this weekend.

This is probably the shortest and easiest recipe I’ve ever posted. It’s also one of the most important/enjoyable snacks through this challenge. Making nut butter is so incredibly simple and cost effective I can’t believe I’ve been buying it pre-made for so long.

Note: You can make this without roasting the almonds first but it will take 3 times longer in the food processor…. and nobody likes to listen to that sound!

Homemade Almond Butter Recipe

Homemade Clean Eating Almond Butter

Makes approximately 500ml

Ingredients:

3 cups almonds
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Pour almonds onto baking sheet and place in oven. Roast for 15 min, stirring occasionally to prevent burning

Roasting Almonds

3. Remove pan from the oven and let almonds cool for about 10min. You want the almonds to still be warm, just not hot!

4. Pour almonds into your food processor and set on low. Leave for a few minutes and then stop to scrap down the side. Continue to let the processor run on low for about 10 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down.

Making Almond Butter

Consistency after a few minutes

5. When the mixture starts to look creamy add in the vanilla and continue processing until you reach the desired consistency

Smooth! Consistency after 10 minutes

Smooth! Consistency after 10 minutes

6. Transfer the butter to an air tight container and store in the cupboard or fridge for up to 3 months (if you can stop yourself from eating it that long!)

IMG_9932

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Foodie Friday & Fall Reset Update

September-21-Day-Reset small

It’s day 12 of the 21 Day Fall Reset Clean Eating Challenge and time to check in!

I’m very proud of myself for saying no to so many tasty and tempting treats around the office this week. I work for a company that has it’s own bakery soI’m sure you can imagine the distractions looming around me.

This week I wasn’t as organized as last due to the fact that the weekend was very busy. Still I managed to make salads and chicken for lunches, peach cobbler and a new dinner dish every night. If anything I’m eating more during the day than normal, the difference is in the quality of food I’m eating. The only times I’ve truly been craving wheat or sugar is when I’ve left too much time between meals. On Monday night I met a friend after work for a run then had to pick up groceries. The grocery store was horrible, everything looked so delicious and I just wanted to eat everything! I held it together and didn’t leave the store with anything not on my grocery list.

Overall I’m feeling great! My stomach is as happy as can be, however I have noticed a difference in my workouts. I’m running slower than normal and the effort feels much harder. I’m trying to eat more fruit and foods with iron this week. I’m also eating more grains this week which should help!

Progress not perfection

Weekends are the worst as food and social activities tend to come hand-in-hand.  I have to confess that I had a couple small cheats from last weekend; I had a small piece of chocolate cake at a friends wedding and had a champaign toast on Sunday (celebrating a very important moment). Every morning I get an email from Laura (the Fall Reset expert) and yesterday’s said “progress is not perfection”. I think this is an excellent point and probably the number one reason why “diets” don’t work. I have made so many wonderful choices over the past 12 days that these 2 little cheats seem minor in the grand scheme. I was actually thinking yesterday that I’d like to remain eating this way after the 21 day challenge is over, with the exception of being less strict 24/7.

Now for this weeks recipe. I’ve experimented with lots of dishes this week but this one has to be my favourite! I’ve been wanting something bread-like and found a recipe for Macadamia + Coconut Muffins on I Quit Sugar’s website. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free and sugar-free – perfect. I made a few minor adjustments based on user comments and they turned out amazingly.

coconut_muffins

Macadamia + Coconut Muffins
with homemade coconut butter 

Makes 12 muffins 

Muffin Ingredients:

 

2 cups almond meal
2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt (very small pinch)
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup macadamia nuts
½ cup melted coconut oil
3 tbsp cup coconut cream
1 whole egg
3 egg whites (I use egg whites in the box but you could use whole eggs)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup

Coconut Butter Ingredients:

3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

Muffin Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and line muffin tins.
2. Combine almond meal, baking powder, salt and shredded coconut into a medium size bowl and stir.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the coconut oil, coconut cream, eggs, vanilla and maple syrup.

Coconut muffins
4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until incorporated. Do not over mix.
5. Spoon mixture into muffin tins, top with macadamia nuts and place in the oven for 12-15min.

baking coconut muffins

Coconut Butter Directions:

1. Place shredded coconut and vanilla into a food processor.
2. Turn on to a low setting and process for 10-15 min, pausing to scrap down the sides every couple minutes. The butter should be smooth. You can store in a mason jar in the cupboard.

Healthy coconut macadamia nut muffins

 

Recipe adapted from I Quit Sugar 

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