3.25.2013

Why running is making me fat(ter)

OK, so maybe it's not actually running's fault.

And technically, I haven't actually weighed myself or anything, so I'm probably not actually getting fatter.

All I know is that my cousin and I completed our first 5K of the "warm" running season and as soon as I crossed that finish line I wanted a pizza.

Or some nachos.

Did I mention it was 10:15 in the morning? I settled for a bagel quarter, a banana and a celebratory beer (because it WAS 10:15 in the morning after all and we just finished a 5K hosted by a BAR), but I still wanted pizza and nachos and everything terrible and gooey and yummy the rest of the day.

That's the thing about when I work out. I don't ALWAYS  want bad things like pizza (in fact, it usually curbs my craving for a soda or any beverage other than water), but I ALWAYS want a lot of something. It's like my body is smart enough to know I just burned an extra 300 calories, so naturally I should replace them with chocolate cake.

OK, so maybe it's not running OR my body's fault, maybe it's just my lack of self control.

Yeah, I bet it's that.

The good news is that while I want to lose weight I'm actually only 10 pounds shy of what is considered to be a healthy weight for me (you know how there are like three ranges provided? The low, low healthy weight one, the middle healthy weight one and the high healthy weight one?

Well I'm 10 pounds away from the high healthy one and I figure being just three months out of birthing a child I should consider this a victory. And once Braeburn starts sleeping in the night (what is he, a vampire??) I'll be able to resume my 5:45 a.m. workouts again.

So it's fair to say I'm not really doing any of this to lose weight (but if I did I certainly wouldn't be upset), but really to just get a little healthier and accomplish some things I said I could never ever do.

By June 22, I'm going to be one of those assholes that has a 13.1 sticker on their car. Yeah, I hate those things, but it's mainly because I feel like they're mocking me with their smug "you can't do it" attitude. So regardless if I have to walk the whole damn thing (which I won't, I'm good for at least a few miles), I'm going to freaking do it.

In preparation for all this non-stop torture fun, we did a 5K this month, we're doing a scenic 5K next month where people shoot things at us in the woods, a 10K in April and then the big ole half marathon in June. We'll follow all that up with a 5K "just for fun" in July where we get blasted with paint. Because seriously, running just isn't fun unless people are throwing things at you or you feel like you're going to die.

I mean really, it's just not fun until you feel like you might die, right? That's why parenthood is such a barrel of giggles!

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3.20.2013

This vegan burger will 'beet' any other

Normally, I'm not really a fan of beets.

They kind of taste like dirt. Or maybe I've just never got them clean enough, I don't know. Regardless, I usually steer clear of the red dirt clumps.

But the other day I was making my usual lentil rice burger, when I realized I didn't have enough lentils or Veganaise to increase the bulk/binder/moisture ratio I generally achieve in homemade burgers. I searched the cabinets for something that would fit in, tempted by a can of northern beans and some old stuffing, but low and behold I found a jar of pickled beets staring me right in my face.

Mocking me. Tempting me with their red, you-don't-know-how-to-use-me, beet ways.

So I figured screw it. Even if I didn't like them, at the very least my husband would have burgers for the next week. 

Turns out I was wrong. Maybe I don't dig beets all by their lonesome, but dice up some of the pickled variety and toss them into a mix and you've got a real contender there.

Warning, this recipe makes a lot. But it's OK, because you're going to want to eat them for three or four days anyway!


Meet your beet burger
(Makes 8-10 semi-large burgers)
Ingredients:
2 cups cooked lentils
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I like to keep the crust from bread I don't use and freeze it. Then I'll make breadcrumbs or stuffing or whatever with it later)
1 12oz jar of pickled beets (and 1/3 the juice)
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 TBS minced garlic
2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp dried fennel
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

Directions:
Cook your lentils and rice per the product's instructions (can vary depending on brand). In a medium bowl, stir together lentils and brown rice. Add about 1/3 of the juice from the pickled beets into your lentil rice mixture and then take the beets and dice them up by hand (if you like a little texture to your burger) or throw them in your food processor and let it do it's thing (if you want it more pasty). Add in diced onion and garlic. Add the tumeric, fennel, black pepper and sea salt last. 

In a pan on medium heat, add a little butter or oil until it's heated. (Not a lot, just enough to cover the pan's surface). Form your beat, lentil and rice mixture into balls (about baseball to tennis ball size) and then smash them down into patties. Cook them in the hot skillet for 8-10 minutes, or until a nice crust forms on each side. Beware, because of the texture and coloring from the beets, these babies tend to look a little on the real side.

Serve with your favorite burger toppings. I recommend not cooking these until they're going to be eaten, as they can get crumbly if you let them sit out too long. The burger mixture will keep in the fridge for up to five days.

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3.14.2013

Things that don't shut up in the night (but need to)

You never realize what you have until it's gone.

Or, in our case, until you have an 11-week-old son that doesn't sleep for more than three or four hours at a time. EVER.

By the eight-week mark, Pearyn had already slept an entire night for the first time. A few weeks later, she was sleeping a six or seven hour interval at night, coupled with another three or four hour snooze. Grant it, she didn't sleep much during the day, but she was also content just hanging out on a blanket eating her feet and trying to grab stuff.

Braeburn on the other hand, hates his parents. I'm pretty sure his one goal in life is to ensure that we never, ever sleep again and that he remains the baby of the family. Because even if someone told me there was only a one out of 10 chance of having another baby with all of Brae's tummy woes and grumpy-man fits, I would tell them that was one too many. 

If I could birth a toddler, I would. I seriously, seriously would. 

This baby junk is just plain frustrating. We've seen the light at the end of the tunnel, we've seen better days, but then I go and open my big fat mouth and sure enough we have a continuous streak of crapola days. 

The problem is that my husband and I have clung so desperately to the light at the end of the tunnel arriving when our baby boy hit three months (the usual time when 'colic' dissipates). While we're still two weeks out, I'm starting to feel like there isn't any end in sight. 

My husband takes the graveyard shift. He's stays up with Braeburn from the time sissy and I go to bed through one, two sometimes three a.m. (Keep in mind I've told him numerous times to wake me up when he's ready to change shifts, but he insists on not turning himself in until he's laid Brae down for the night as well). Sure, there are catnaps scattered in there, where he holds Braeburn and they sleep in the recliner for two hours or so. I get up with Braeburn for the early-morning shifts, anytime between three and seven, sometimes early enough that we can sneak another wink in there, sometimes early enough but Brae decides to just fuss or stare at my face for hours on end. 

So when we finally get our little man to sleep, trust me when I say that you don't want to be the asshole that wakes him up. 

Case and point a few days ago: my husband's butthole cell phone. Yeah, it's all cool and sophisticated and all that jazz, but it doesn't seem that badass when it's waking our just-fell-asleep son at five in the morning because there's an Amber Alert three states over. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of children being abducted or going missing, but I don't think we need to be alerted of it 19 times in a row with a really annoying, crap-your-pants loud alarm.

And let's not leave out the humidifier. Because we had to go and have a winter baby, our little guy has battled his fair share of colds over the last 11 weeks. We've basically let the humidifier set up camp in our room, as it helps keep his head clear and it provides some nice background noise in case you need to breathe without waking the baby. Apparently, however, the humidifier is rebelling on us; instead of being a source of comfort, it's turned into this loud, desperate chick gulping water as loud as it can to get attention. And when it gulps, Braeburn twitches and spazzes and little pieces of mommy and daddy's souls die. 

And don't you dare think about coughing, sneezing or letting loose any other bodily function while the beast is sleeping. He especially dislikes coughing. Most times at night I run out of the room sprinting if I need to let out a cough. If for some reason I can't make it to the hallway in time, I usually suffocate myself a pillow in an attempt to keep Braeburn from stirring. 

Once upon a time I used to think my husband and daughter's sleep talking and snoring was a disturbance. Now, I go into ninja-panther-mom mode when one of them starts prattling off nonsense in the middle of a deep slumber, because heaven forbid one of their midnight, sleeptalking rants wake Braeburn. 

And don't even get me started on door-to-door people. I don't care if you're selling magical unicorns that grant me three wishes at the low, low price of 99 cents, if you bother me when I'm trying to get Braeburn to sleep, when he is asleep, when he's awake, basically if you bother me at all you're going to have your head bitten off. Particularly when you ring the doorbell, open the screen door, knock on the front door and then repeat the same routine three times in a row. Take the hint buddy, either I'm not home or I'm home and I don't want to talk to you. And at the off chance I answer the door, do not proceed to sell me some garbage while you notice me trying to feed my baby or make him shut the hell up. Or else you're going to come in and be responsible for making him shut the hell up. While I take your money.

So three months may not be the magic number for Braeburn. Maybe it'll be three months and one week. Maybe it'll be three years and one day. I don't know. All I can do is hope for the best, prepare for the worst and rant like crazy on my blog.

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3.13.2013

Vegan quinoa pizza poppers you can feel good about

I have a confession.

Believe it or not, I didn't get this fabulous Chubby Vegan exterior by eating all sorts of healthy.

I got it because I have a dependence on sweet foods, I really, really dig carbs and I have an affinity for pizza. Seriously, who doesn't have a kinship with dough, pizza sauce and cheese?

And while I've been making strides when it comes to taking strides, running a few miles a day or at the very least sneaking in some spinning, it doesn't do me all that much good if I'm going home and gorging on deep fried whatever and candy-coated blah blah blah.

So I've been scouring Pinterest for dishes that aren't going to clog my heart with all their fatty goodness, but also contain more than just lettuce and lemon juice disguised as dressing.

Don't worry, I'm not going all skinny-mini on you all, I'm just trying to change up our ho-hum meal plans with a few new dishes here and there, ones I can feel good about feeding myself, Chubby Vegan Dad and our spawns.

I came across this guilt-free recipe for quinoa pizza balls, but noticed between the egg and low-fat cheese it called for that it needed some veganizing. The cheese is a pretty simple fix, but the egg was the conundrum. Most of my egg replacers are for baking, so while they bind, they have a lot of other ingredients hanging out with them to help accomplish the job. I decided to take a stab at these pizza balls using a little bit of silken tofu in place of the egg and let me tell you, they were a hit with Pearyn and Chubby Vegan Dad.

The best part? They're super simple, they're super not-bad-for-you and they're made of quinoa! This recipe is a serious win-win.



Vegan quinoa pizza poppers
(Makes around 30-36 'bites')
Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms (diced)
1 small onion, diced
1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup silken tofu
2 TBS plain almond milk
2 TBS Italian seasoning
2 TBS minced garlic
pizza sauce for dipping

Directions:
Bring two cups of water to a boil and add quinoa. Stir and then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the water is gone. In a saute pan, drizzle a little olive oil or vegan butter and cook diced onion, mushrooms and garlic on medium heat until golden brown. Preheat your oven to 350. Using a stick blender (or a regular blender, I just didn't feel like cleaning mine), mix silken tofu and almond milk until it makes a thick liquid (basically until it's clump-free). Once everything is done cooking, mix together all the ingredients (except for the pizza sauce) in a medium bowl. Grease a mini-muffin tin and spoon about 1 TBS of quinoa mixture into each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with pizza sauce or sprinkle a little nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan if you're feeling wild.

And seriously, you're going to be making these a lot.

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3.12.2013

Five things you don't know about parenthood

When it comes to babies and toddlers (and well, I imagine tweens and teens, I'll let you know when I get to those stages), there's always a fair amount of uncertainty in day-to-day customs. You don't know if you're baby is going to be an angel or heaven forbid, suffer from colic. You don't know if your baby will be a natural at the boob or if they'll have latch issues.

Heck, in most cases, you don't know if your baby will have 15 bowel movements a day or one every 15 days.

But eventually, like a really tattered, rolled up in a ball, tied with crappy ribbon and then shoved in the back of your drawers under a mound of clothing, button-up shirt, you slowly start to iron out the wrinkles. You smooth over the rough edges until all that's left is a smooth (albeit still a bit tattered) shirt. At least it's recognizable. Around three or four months, your life starts to resemble what you think having children is all about.

There are the coos, the smiles, the milestones, the obsessing over milestones, the vaccines, the rolling over, the finally starting to sleep a wink here and there. You start to see what you're in for; you start to get the hang of parenthood.

And just when you start to get into a groove, start to feel confident in this whole parenting game, you become consumed by this all-encompassing feeling that there is so much around the corner waiting for you. In fact, I've found five things that I never even measured as a blip on the radar when I thought about diving headfirst into parenthood.

No. 1) You may not realize this just yet, but you're going to spend probably the next 10 years of your life clipping someone else's nails for them. I know, weird right? You may not think it's a big deal now, but just wait until you try to use those uber-tiny nail clippers on your wiggly little newborn. (I've tried the whole biting the nails off with my teeth thing and it doesn't work. Braeburn has nails of steel already). And if that's not bad enough, wait until you accidentally clip part of their uber-soft baby finger. Not only do they wail, you do too because you feel like such a terrible mom.

Unfortunately, this chore will continue unless one of these three things happens; someone somewhere invents something to stunt the growth of nails; your child finally understands hygiene and learns how to handle their own business; or evolution decides not to give us nails until we're 20.

No. 2) A princess is never a princess and a truck is never a truck. Seriously. While I pack my daughter's lunch I contemplate whether or not I'm emotionally damaging her by putting her tofu and hummus wrap in a plastic lunch container plastered with Disney princesses all over it. That "quick" trip to the grocery store turns into a 30-minute debacle on what big girl panties I should pick out for Pearyn; am I the only one who's a little weirded out by having the my little pony "Pinkie Pie" decorating my daughter's bum? Maybe I should go for the Tinkerbell three pack instead? At least that way she gets a little cultural education with her fairies?

And better yet, why is the pack of infamous Sesame Street characters (Oscar, Cookie Monster, Count and Big Bird) deemed "boy" underwear? Since when do you have to have a penis to appreciate a furry green puppet that lives in the trash can?

No. 3) Your child, at some point in time (whether you want to admit it or not), is going to be an asshole. No, seriously. Your precious bundle of joy is going to act like a douche bag. Chances are, they've probably learned it from you. As a mother to an extremely colicky baby boy, I admit there have been many a night I've cursed biology for causing my darling little man to inherit what I like to call the "d-bag" gene.

Now don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying you should call said child a bad name to their face, I'm simply saying that at some point in the first year or two of parenthood, you're going to find yourself asking whatever higher being you seek solace in, what precisely terribly thing you did to birth such a little butthole. And until you're a parent to a little jerkface of your own, I reserve the right to say these things without judgement. And just to reiterate, I'm not saying it to their little butthole faces.

No. 4) Even when they're out of diapers, you're still going to wipe a lot of butt. Sure, your almost-three-year-old daughter may or may not be potty trained and you may or may not have had a little party to celebrate not having to change her diaper after she poops her own body weight, THREE times a day, but the real joys are about to come. Now, instead of having a squirmy little baby butt to wipe while they eat their toes and contemplate the meaning of existence, you have a little toddler poking their bare butt through your cracked bedroom door while you're trying to blog and daddy is asleep in the chair almost singing "can you wipe my bisqeet mommy, I took a big "pooorp." I know that bisqeet and pooorp aren't words, but just read that sentence aloud and you'll have an idea of the way my three-year-old daughter talks.

The best part? She says these things with such pride, sticking her stinky little butt through the door and waving it around.

No. 5) The only thing you're ever going to be sure about again in your entire life is how you absolutely have no control over your heart anymore. This little person, these little people, will take pieces of your heart for the rest of your lives together. You may not know if those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and coconut milk boxes are good for them, but you do know one thing. As long as you are alive and breathing, your heart will never, ever be yours again.

It will be carried around inside these little people that leech onto you when they're all cutesy and their smiles make you all ooey and gooey and then one day, they're all grown up and you suddenly realize they've walked away with your heart.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that parenthood will be the biggest love story of your life, but also, the biggest heartbreak.

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3.07.2013

Shake your Shamrocks Sugar Cookies

Do you remember Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds?

I've never actually had one, even prior to being vegan, but I remember my friends raved about them in college. In fact, I remember making several trips to McDonalds so all my friends could get gorge on those milkshakes, all March long. Me, however, I was more of a Taco Bell and Mountain Dew kind of girl. (And we wonder how I became the chubby vegan mom, right?)

I hear it's mint flavored, which always confused me because I don't really know what mint and shamrocks have in common, other than they're both green.

Regardless, I wanted to make sugar cookies the other day, but not just any sugar cookies, I wanted to fancy them up a bit. So I decided to toss some mint extract, natural green food "dye" and chocolate chips into the mix and what I was left with was an absolutely delightful and refreshing sweet treat.

Rightfully named the shake your shamrocks sugar cookies - not because I stand behind McDonalds - but because I've never been one to resist a good alliteration.



Shake your Shamrocks Sugar Cookies
(Makes 24)
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
1 stick vegan butter
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup water
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp mint extract (you can add more if you like a mintier cookie, I recommend starting with one tsp and working your way up)
1 tsp salt
3-5 drops vegan green food coloring, your preference. 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium to large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in softened butter, water, applesauce, mint extract and food coloring. Last, but definitely not least, stir in the vegan chocolate chips. I advise one cup, but you can add more or less according to your taste.

On a greased cookie sheet, use a spoon to drop medium, one-inch sized cookie dough balls. Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on your oven). The cookies are done when the edges just barely start to brown. You want them to have the perfect combination of chewy and squishy in the center, like all good sugar cookies do!

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3.01.2013

The more things change the more they stay the same

Little man is two months old.

TWO. MONTHS. OLD.

According to most pediatricians and nearly any and every baby website you can possibly scour, this means we *more than likely* have just one more month left doing time.

By doing time I mean dealing with a baby that has "colic." Any parent of a child that has had colic knows exactly what I'm talking about. It's basically the equivalent of being in parent jail. You don't have any control over your fate, you have to watch other people poop and while you might have a slight idea how much hard time you're putting in, you're never really free until you're actually on the outside.

We've seen the light at the end of the tunnel. And trust me, it's glorious. It's filled with huge, toothless, one-dimpled smiles, bursts of 'coos' and gurgles and five uninterrupted hours of sleep at a time. FIVE glorious hours can do wonders when you've been getting up every two to three hours.

He's grown up so much in the last month. It feels like the longest, but blurriest two months of my life. Some days I wake up and it feels like we just brought him home, like we're still tip-toeing around our house doing anything to not wake the baby. Heaven forbid you have to cough, blow your nose or receive a text message in the presence of our little man; if he's within earshot he will get seriously, seriously angry at you. And in turn, you will get seriously, seriously angry at whomever the culprit is.

We got spoiled this past week. On Wednesday night he slept five hours, woke up to eat for an hour and then slept another four hours. That was nearly nine consecutive hours of sleep. The next night, however, he wouldn't even consider shutting his eyes until nearly 3 a.m.

Despite being 27 years old and an adult, I find myself hiding under the covers on a nightly basis. Only these days, I find myself wishing I was hiding from the boogie man. Instead, I'm hiding from my two-month-old son who seems to be the noisiest, busiest body sleeper in the world. He twitches a minimum of like 17 times an hour and makes so many grunting noises I'm not sure if he's taking the biggest poop in his pants or simply dreaming that he is.

And speaking of the boogie man, once upon a time my best friend and I used to joke about how getting pregnant and having a baby would get us out of conditioning for softball. (What can I say, we were in college, we wanted to party and it was hard to run two miles with a hangover). We used to sit and conjure up ways we could keep our scholarships but get out of the timed mile, from throwing ourselves down a flight of stairs to getting knocked up.

Now, after living with the product of being knocked up, running has become my only escape from the little bundles of joy waiting for me at home. Don't get me wrong, I love love love my daughter and I adore my little punk rock man, but sometimes, the only therapy I can find from the daily stressors of being a woman, a wife and a mom comes from putting on a pair of ear phones, setting my iPod Touch onto shuffle and just running until I'm so miserable, tired and out of breath that the only thing I can be bothered to think about is whether or not I'll be able to move the next day.

Speaking of being able to move the next day, I've officially gone crazy and decided to sign up for the a half marathon in June with my cousin. I know, me, running 13 some miles seems highly unlikely to begin with, let alone five months after having a baby. But it's something I want to prove to myself, something I need to prove to myself.

Sometimes I find myself feeling like the awkward middle school girl dork I used to be. Constantly worried what everyone thinks about me, valuing my self worth on what said people think about me and feeling like I'll never quite measure up. At 27 years old, it's just not acceptable to me to feel this way anymore. Instead of just being good at exuding confidence, I want to actually BE confident. And competing in and finishing this half marathon, is just going to be the start of that.

In more exciting news, Pearyn has decided to become potty trained over the last three weeks. It was the strangest thing. We knew she had an idea of when she was going to the bathroom (and by knew I mean she would literally tell us 'I'm going to go pee in my diaper in the corner and then you're going to change me), we just had no idea how to get her sold on the whole potty business.

Turns out cute underwear and bribery is the way to go. She woke up one day and decided she wanted to wear panties to school. After remaining dry the whole day we rewarded her with a toy she'd picked out months ago (like seriously, seven months ago). We told her if she kept wearing panties all day and didn't have accidents we'd get her something else small. And now, three weeks later, our little girl hasn't had one accident. She's even tackled potty breaks while out and about.

I can only hope that Braeburn will be as smart as his sister, because I have absolutely no idea how she managed to figure this whole potty business out.