Lemon-Almond Afternoon Cake

I was cleaning out my pantry and getting rid of things that were wayyyyy past the expiration date, and found a package of almond meal that wasn’t expired but that I just bought and forgot about.  I had pinned this recipe from iamafoodblog a while ago, which inspired me to bake this cake.  It turned out moist with toasty almond and lemon flavors, and was perfect with afternoon tea.  It’s also pretty healthy and full of protein, because it’s just made of ground up almonds and eggs.

Lemon-Almond Afternoon Cake

Lemons

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Zest of 4 lemons
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal (I used Trader Joe’s Just Almond Meal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (having just thrown away my baking powder after realizing it expired in Feb. 2012, I had to substitute with this)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • About 1/4 cup water
  • Powdered sugar, for serving

Lemon cakeInstructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a loaf pan or two round cake pans with baking spray.
  2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer, and place the egg yolks in a large bowl.
  3. Beat the lemon zest, sugar, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and almond extract into the egg yolks.  This will make a thick paste, so add the water slowly until it turns into a smooth, thick batter.
  4. Whip the egg whites in the mixer until medium peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the batter slowly, being careful to keep it as fluffy as possible.
  5. Fold the batter into the pan(s) and bake for 15-20 minutes (if you’re using cake pans) or 25-30 minutes (if you’re using a loaf pan), or until the cake doesn’t jiggle and a light golden brown crust has formed.
  6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy with your afternoon tea!

Me and my First World Problems

So, I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been more or less wallowing in self-pity and wanting to avoid thinking, talking, or writing about fitness (which is especially difficult during resolution season when fitness is all anyone ever wants to talk about or advertise.)  This is because I went to see the ortho hip specialist, and he is pretty sure that I have a torn labrum in my left hip which has probably been the source of all my pain since October.  This isn’t what the other doctors said, but it makes sense because

  1. it’s something that commonly happens in people with underlying structural deformities (check)
  2. who do a lot of sports, particularly running (check)
  3. I have all of the key symptoms (does it hurt when I do this? OW. Check. Does it pop when I do this? POP. Check.)

Quick anatomy lesson: The labrum is a ring of cartilage around the outside of your hip socket that basically helps keeps the ball of your hip inside the socket.  It’s supposed to be attached to the socket all the way around, but sometimes it gets separated, which is bad and hurts a lot, as you can see from this illustration which is painful just to look at.

torn labrum

However, I am getting carried away because I haven’t even had the MRI that will tell us for sure if I really even have a torn labrum. and if I do, whether or not it will require surgery to repair, because the soonest I could schedule an MRI was February.  In the mean time, I am strictly forbidden from running, jumping, kickboxing, squats, lunges, boot camp, burpees, and anything else except walking, light biking and very careful yoga.

The doctor actually asked me “have you rested AT ALL?” and I had to guiltily respond “…not really.”  At that moment I felt, not for the first time since my injury last fall, like I might have a slightly unhealthy relationship with exercise.

It’s hard not to think that “more is more” when it comes to fitness.  You can always get stronger, faster, thinner, better.  But being injured is reminding me of the obvious fact that this isn’t actually true–that “more” isn’t always what your body really needs.  The hard part is if, like me, a lot of your self-esteem is tied up in physical activity, you have to find a way to feel good about yourself that doesn’t involve working out a lot.

To this end, my mom suggested I volunteer at a soup kitchen to take my mind off my first world problems.  Maybe I can make them my winter squash and parsnip soup

Quinoa Pilaf with Chickpeas, Spinach and Sundried Tomatoes

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and like me, you got to rest, spend time with your wonderful family and eat plenty of delicious food.  I also hope you’re not freaking out too much over your New Year’s resolution and whether or not you’ve already broken it.

My resolution is to stop stressing about insignificant things and instead to focus on enjoying the present moment.  This is a bit of a struggle for me, because I am a person that likes to multitask, to make lists and check them off as efficiently as possible.  Sometimes, the present just passes me by while I’m busy rushing ahead to the next task.

Anyways, after all of the delicious holiday food and not a lot of working out (I went to boot camp today after two weeks off and thought I would die), it feels like it’s time for some healthy weeknight meals. This pilaf is a super quick, easy meal with all of the food groups in one pot.

Quinoa Pilaf with Chickpeas, Spinach and Sundried Tomatoes

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 of an onion, finely chopped (this just depends on how much you like onions)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes (I used the dry ones, not the kind in oil)
  • 4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • Crumbled feta, for garnish

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Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Saute the onion and garlic until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the dry quinoa and saute for about 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth and freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  3. As soon as the quinoa is cooked, stir in the chickpeas and sundried tomatoes.  Add the spinach and stir until wilted.
  4. Garnish with crumbled feta and enjoy!

Thanks for a great year from Hungrygirlruns!

It’s been a great year over here at Hungrygirlruns, thanks to all of you wonderful readers. Here is my year in review, courtesy of WordPress.

Happy holidays, and here’s to an even better 2015!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 43 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My New Favorite (Non-Crazy) Fitness App

My name is Georgia, and I am a recovering MyFitnessPal addict.

If you aren’t familiar, MyFitnessPal is a website and an app that allow you to create a daily food and exercise diary.  This means you can record every single thing you eat and every step you take, every day, which is cool because of the degree of precision with which you can see if you’re getting the right balance of nutrients in your diet and eating the right number of calories for your activity level.  It’s a good concept, and I have nothing against the its creators because I’m sure it helps a lot of people get on track with their fitness goals.

However, the reason I had to give it up is because I’m kind of a detail-oriented freak (as you might remember, I have a seasonally-updated master grocery list because I can’t stand the thought of forgetting something at the store) and as a result I tend to obsess a little too much over my MyFitnessPal entries.  I like the feeling of control it gives me, but I don’t like not eating snacks even though I’m hungry because I’ve already met my calorie goal for the day, and feeling bad about exceeding my daily allotted fat grams but not getting enough protein, and wondering why I’m so tired after yoga if according to the app it only burned exactly 174 calories.

The problem with focusing on the app is that it distracts you from focusing on your body and what it needs, which is (duh) more nuanced than a computer can understand.  But tuning in to your body and trusting it is, at least for me, harder than typing information into my smartphone.  So for right now, I’m working on finding some balance and focusing on how I feel rather than counting calories and fat grams.

So this may seem ironic, but to help me with my new goal (and admittedly because it’s hard for me to quit fitness tracker apps cold turkey), there is a new app in my life.  It’s called Fig, and it lets you choose from a huge variety of completely customizable health and wellness goals and track your progress towards them.  And weight loss doesn’t have to be one of them–it doesn’t have to be involved at all.  You can choose “breathe deeply,” “take a desk break,” “spend time with friends,” “avoid the dirty dozen,” “enjoy nature,” or any of about a million other things.

Unlike MyFitnessPal and many other tracking apps, there is no negative reinforcement or “helpful” reminders that “eggs are high in cholesterol!” or “you’ve exceeded your calorie limit for the day!”  You just decide on any goal you want, like “Eat veggies 3 times a day,” and every time you eat veggies you click on a circle until you get to three and then the circle turns into a star.  If you only eat veggies twice, the circle just stays a circle, and (guess what!) you don’t have to feel bad about it.  Because (guess what!) you shouldn’t ever have to feel bad about trying to take care of yourself.

Spectating the CIM

On Sunday, my husband ran the California International Marathon.  It was his first marathon, and he was hoping to run it in under 4 hours, which was a pretty lofty goal considering our best half time was 2:01 and anyone who has run a full marathon knows that it’s way more than twice as hard.

However, he is really good at running (especially when I’m not there to slow him down), and when he has his heart set on something not a lot can get in the way of it.  So he spent 26.2 miles in BEAST MODE and finished in 3:58 like a boss.

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When I met him at the finish, he was somewhat delirious and extremely pale with very blue lips.  Through chattering teeth he swore he felt fine.  Endorphins are a powerful drug.  He maybe should have visited the medical tent, but since I’m a nurse I just walked/carried him back to the car and took him home to warm up and eat, and he recovered just fine.

This was the first marathon I spectated, and I know it’s ironic but it was exhausting.  Every time I cheered (which happened often) Tybee got excited and jumped around too, until about 45 minutes in when she just gave up and lay down on the street.  I kind of felt the same way.

First I went to the the halfway mark to cheer, and I got to see this incredible dude who finished first place in 2:12. That is to say, I saw a flash of flying limbs and tiny shorts and then he was gone.

At the half, all the runners looked awesome.  They were smiling and practically skipping down the course, and I was sad that I had registered and trained and I wasn’t out there with them.

But then I cheered at the 23 mile mark, and saw all the same runners again, looking a lot less awesome.  They were not smiling and they were practically staggering down the course, and I was much less sad that I wasn’t out there with them.

I’m also super proud of my friend Isabel, who finished in 4:45 and didn’t even struggle.  Good job, guys!  I feel truly honored to have run with such beasts!

Holiday Stress, Holiday Eating, and How not to Stress about Holiday Eating

As a kid, I never understood why adults always said that the holidays were such a stressful time.  I mean, what’s stressful about spending two months wasting time at school making paper Indian headdresses and pilgrim hats and taking field trips to go see the Nutcracker, and then getting two weeks off during which you get a bunch of presents?

But now I’m sort of a grown up and I’ve hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner for eight, I am starting to understand what they meant.  Just putting up the Christmas lights was a good four-hour affair complete with torrential rain, copious yelling, a minor ladder-related injury and some tears.  December seems like a swirl of Black-Friday-Cyber-Monday-panic-shopping for the perfect gifts for everyone I know, a series of parties (and subsequent red wine hangovers) requiring me to figure out how to actually wear red lipstick while also eating food and always remember to add some Holiday Sparkle to my outfit.  Holiday stress is real.

But holiday stress isn’t just about shopping, decorating, and having to dress nicely.  The true spirit of holiday stress can be found in holiday eating.

Eating too much during certain times of the year is a special American pastime, and expressing guilt about it seems just as important.  Even if you’re not usually a person who worries much about food or their weight, it’s hard to escape having to feel bad feelings about what you eat during the holidays.

I got an email from the wellness program that I participate in at work detailing exactly how many burpees are required to burn off a single serving of mashed potatoes (around 70 million) and the fact that you would have to run, like, twelve marathons in order to feel okay about eating an average-sized slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

Okay, yes, I am exaggerating.  Because no, I did not even finish reading the email.  I have enough dessert-related internal turmoil to make me pretty bonkers during the holidays, and I don’t need a side of guilt with my guilt, thank you very much.  And while it’s fine to be a little more active when you know you’re going to eat a lot of buttery carbs, equating each bite of your grandma’s famous mashed potatoes with a requisite number of burpees takes the joy right out of those delicious forkfuls.

So let’s all try to put things in perspective this year.  Thanksgiving is just a meal, albeit one which is more delicious and special than usual and which you might share with friends or with a lot of family members whom you might or might not get along with.  You might have eaten too much pie and drank too much wine because you were happy or sad or stressed out and that’s okay.  You don’t need to do 70 million burpees to make up for it (please don’t.  I think you would actually die).

You might eat too many Christmas cookies because you only make them once a year and when Christmas is over there will be no more Christmas cookies in the world so you better eat 10 more because THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE.*  And that’s okay.  You might gain a few stress- and food-related holiday pounds.  And that’s okay, too.  (That’s why we all love sweaters and opaque tights this time of year.)

Just don’t waste your time freaking out about it, because 1) The holidays are stressful enough without worrying about precisely how many grams of fat are in your eggnog and 2) The holidays exist so that you can spend time celebrating with your family and friends.  So relax, and eat, drink and actually be merry.

*You could also make Christmas cookies in March, if you wanted to.  I am pretty sure that the Christmas cookie police will not root you out and arrest you for inappropriately timed holiday activities.