Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies



      INGREDIENTS
*Choose organic whenever possible.
       1 cup unsalted butter
       1 cup maple syrup
       2 large eggs
       1 vanilla bean
       1 ½ cups flour
       1 teaspoon salt
       1 cup dark chocolate chips
       1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

           INSTRUCTIONS
            1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
            2.  Toast (heat in oven) pecans for 10 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.
            3.  In a large bowl, beat the melted butter with the maple syrup.
            4.  Scrape out vanilla bean.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla bean.
            5.  On low speed, mix in the flour and salt until just blended.  Do not over-mix.
            6.  Gently stir in the chocolate chips and pecans. 

             
7.  Transfer the batter to 9-inch square pan.  (I use stoneware.)


            8.  Bake for 40 minutes, until top is lightly golden and a fork inserted into middle until it comes out relatively clean.  (Ignore melted chocolate.)

9.  Let cool completely, cut into 16 squares, and remove from pan. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

Remembering 2015 on Stephanie's Birthday

Happy Birthday to my Best Friend Forever, Stephanie!

Wow.  I was starting to feel bad about not getting this post up sooner, then I realized I published my 2014 year-end post on the same date last year - Stephanie's birthday.  Whew!  So I'm not late.

I shouldn't feel bad about this anyway.  The reason I haven't posted it sooner is because I've been spending less time on the computer and more time experiencing the real world...and getting healthier in the process!

Let's take a look back at some of the highlights of another fulfilling year.

1. Zumba Instructor Training - In 2014 I took my Zumba experience to another level.  With the encouragement of my instructors, family, and friends, I took the training that certified me to teach.  I am not sure in which capacity I want to teach it yet, but I am excited about my options.  One idea I have is to somehow use it to support charities rather than teach an ongoing class.  Time will tell and the possibilities are endless!

In addition to the exercise aspect of Zumba, I also got certified to teach the nutrition component - Plate by Zumba.  I am so excited about this, as healthy, delicious, and easy-to-prepare food is one of my greatest passions!

2. Walking - 2015 became the year of the walks for me.  In early April I began walking almost on a daily basis.  I feel stronger than I did before, both mentally and physically.  I remember thinking to myself, "I'll work my way up to being able to walk to my Zumba class."  Turns out I didn't have to work my way up.  I was successful the first time I attempted it!  Now, walking to Zumba isn't enough!  When weather permits, I walk 20-30 minutes.  I thought summer would be most challenging, but as long as I got my walks in early in the morning (which is when I prefer to walk, anyway), I was fine.  The real challenge has been winter with all the cold and snow.  Come spring, I know I will appreciate my nature walks even more!

3.  Tree Planting - My walks inspired me to do something different in memory of Stephanie last year.  I arranged to have five trees planted to mark the five years it's been since her passing.  These trees will breathe new life into the world and will be a reminder of the life Stephanie lived here on Earth.  It is also a reminder of how she spiritually lives on in my heart.

4.  Advocating for People with Disabilities - Last year's Walk-N-Roll event was an even bigger success than the previous year.  My team raised more money than we did in 2014 and we came in first place for fundraising!  The team was also the largest one I've ever had.

In addition to this, in November I was asked to join the board for another spina bifida group and I accepted.  I was also able to convince my favorite grocery store, which is locally owned and sells produce that is only organic, to purchase a motorized scooter.  This makes shopping so much healthier, easier, and enjoyable for me! 

5.  Defeating Diabetes - This one probably deserves an entire post or even a series of posts.  Without a doubt, my greatest accomplishment of 2015 was defeating diabetes.  The news came in December that my A1c was within the normal range.  This is the first time it's been in the normal range since I started checking it on a regular basis almost seven years ago.  I am on the high end of normal and I know that it could go above normal again.  I will continue working on it so that I eventually need not worry about it going into the pre-diabetes range again.  On a related note, 2015 was the first entire calendar year in I don't know how long that I didn't have any soda!

Every year when I write my year-end blog post, I wonder how I'm going to continue to grow the following year.  It sometimes seems like an impossibility.  Much of what I accomplished in 2015 was not on my agenda early in the year.  The lesson I take from this is that I should follow my heart, go with the flow, and have the courage to change if something I'm doing doesn't feel right.  Things will work out exactly the way they're meant to if I allow them to.