Thursday, October 21, 2010

Flavors of Fall: Pumpkin Spice Latte

What an exciting Thursday evening of Grey's, pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin spice cookies!!

In the middle of class a couple weeks ago, I got an amazing epiphany. I could make my own pumpkin spice lattes!!! I searched around online and found tons of recipes, though all basically the same. Here is the one I've been using. I had to buy practically all of the ingredients but it's been well worth it! Such a delicious start to the morning! Plus I think I finally feel the effects of caffeine! For most of my life caffeine never really had an effect on me. I never woke me up and I could have it right before bed and it didn't keep me awake. Perhaps it is a mental thing, but these pumpkin spice lattes are a good morning picker-upper! Here is my recipe:

1c. Soy milk. (you can used almond, but I think soy taste better)
1 regular spoon scoop of canned pumpkin, amount totally depends on how much you like pumpkin.
1T sugar
1T vanilla coffee syrup (I found it at target)

Mix together and microwave for a minute or two until steaming. Then add

1/4t. pumpkin pie spice
1/4c. coffee (you're supposed to use "strong" coffee since it's subbing for espresso, but I don't)

Super quick and easy! I bought a little electric milk frother for $10 at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I used it before I add the coffee so my drink looks even more authentic. Plus the foam helps to keep the drink hot for a longer period of time. I don't add whipped cream, though that would make it extra fancy and maybe make it taste even better. I also bought a caramel coffee syrup at Target and sometimes add a dash of that too.

The recipe says you can used bottled Pumpkin Spice Syrup instead of canned pumpkin and spices. I immediately searched online and found it multiple places and the bottle is only $7-8!! BUT shipping is $10. No thanks! Maybe when I feel like I have extra money lying around? Too bad you can't get the syrup at Starbucks; I wonder what they actually used in the lattes at the store? Anyway, I found a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Syrup and made some and I would say it was quite successful! Basically water, sugar, pumpkin and spices, simmered on the stove until maple-syrup thick. It saves SECONDS off my latte making since I no longer have to add sugar or spices (I still add extra pumpkin). You can also add it to other drinks, esp Chai tea. What a novel idea! I keep meaning to make a Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte but I keep forgetting!

Maybe this weekend I will go study at Starbucks and let them make a pumpkin spice latte for me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flavors of Fall: Vegan Pumpkin Cookies!

I love the flavors of fall. Actually I love fall in general. It wasn't until this current fall that I realized it. Since I am not a fan of bittery cold weather, I never considered myself a lover of fall, but I got to thinking about it and realized how much I love everything else about this time of year. I love the gorgeous tree colors and the ability to wear my fleece jacket and a cute scarf and my fur boots. I love decorating for holidays and fall is the beginning of the season of the best holidays! I love college football and the excitement that goes along with it. A couple weeks ago, I stopped at starbucks and got my first pumpkin spice latte and fell in love. Autumn in a trendy cup! I bought all the ingredients to make my own pumpkin spice lattes (at $5 a pop, they aren't cheap!) including a coffee maker. I have been having one almost every morning, though that is for another post. Any way, I used canned pumpkin in them but I don't used a whole can of pumpkin in a week so I was looking for something else to do with it and pumpkin cookies came to mind! Since I don't eat eggs or even keep them around, vegan cookies it is! I wanted a recipe with lots of whole grains (since I have been eating too much junk lately) and this recipe looked delish! Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies from postpunkkitchen. I halved the recipe and it still made a TON of cookies, more than a sheet full. Next time, I'd quarter the recipe. I really like baking so I'd rather make a small batch of cookies more frequently than a large batch less often. Plus it prevents me from super-super pigging.

Here the recipe halved with my own variations

1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2c. + a 1/3c. filled halfway of rolled oats (I think technically 2 and 2/3 T)
1/2t. baking soda
3/8t. salt
1/2t. cinnamon
1/4t. nutmeg (which I didn't have, so I subbed some ground ginger and ground cloves. I should have just stubbed pumpkin pie spice for the cinn + nutmeg)
1/2 + 1/3c. sugar
1/3c. canola oil
1T molasses (I used a heaping T of maple sugar)
1/2c. canned pumpkin.
1/2t. vanilla
optional: 1T flaxmeal (I forgot to add it)
1/2c. chopped walnuts
1/4c. raisins

I am totally lazy and just dump it all in a bowl at once and stir it up. I used a cookie scoop and 2 baking sheets baked 1 and a time and they turned out great! They taste semi healthy too! I don't feel like I am just eating white fluff when I eat them. Since I used Newman's Own Organiz raisins (which are super sweet on their own), I think it would be possible to cut out a bunch of the sugar and the recipe would still turn out great!

You're supposed to squish them down a bit with a fork (like PB cookies) before making them. I totally didn't so I have round cookie balls!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Learning Enrichement

School is hard. I love school. I love starting new classes and getting new books and new school supplies, but the actual act of serious studying/learning has always been a challenge for me. Mostly because I don't study. Quite honestly I believe this is because I have some weird idea that I would rather fail a class because I was too lazy to study (and there if I did study, I would have done awesome, but my laziness just got in the way) than to say that I studied my butt off but still did terrible because I am just too dumb to understand the information.

I went and talked to the Learning Enrichment center 2 weeks ago. He gave me some goals to work on (1) study outside of my apartment, (2) find a study buddy. Not for social studying, just some to sit at the same table and quietly work on your own stuff. (3) get practice questions. I went to the library and found some great board review books that weren't all clinical questions.

Then I had a follow up a week ago. I think talking to him helped. He gave me some good study advice and ideas for how to improve (or in my case, where to seriously start)

Learning steps
1) preview before class, just enough so you know the gist of what the lecture covers
2) lecture, take the best notes possible
3) review right after class, this is the best time to review, while the info is fresh. the longer you wait and the more you sleep before reviewing, the less you'll remember
4) weekend review, make a study sheet or questions outline if you have not already done so.

Some of the stuff I learned about myself is that when I study, I learn best if I hand-write the notes. When I type, I feel as though I'm just speeding through to get the information copied onto my computer, which in actuality is useless. Though I am totally capable of just speeding through my notes even when writing, so I have to consciously go slowly to actually learn the information.

I have also decided that I want to try to get into a more steady schedule. I have class at 10am on MW and 8:30am on TR and then sleep in FSaSu so I get up at all different times. My new goal is to get up at 7am MTWR and then maybe 8 or 9 on FSaSu. I hate how I wake up at 11 or 12 or even 1 and then feel as though the whole day is gone. I think I could get a lot accomplished in the 2 extra hours I'd have before class on MW. Maybe even some pre-reading, which leads me to my next realization is that I need to do more pre-prep before class. While studying for anatomy I was just thinking about how much more I would have learned during lecture if I had just read the book before class. Not even fancy-read with notes and stuff, just straight reading. Another new goal or me.

I know that I am 26 and should have all this crap figured out by now, but I don't. Well, actually I do. Intellectually I understand everything I need to do and have for a long time but there is some sort of disconnect to the execution phase and I have a tough time actually doing all the stuff on my to-do list.

25 minutes!

So a long time ago I got the Couch-to-5K app for my iphone. I mean months ago, maybe even a year ago. I'd started working on the app and liked it. You can play regular music while you run and then the app tells you when you should be running or walking for interval training. It's great...but I'm lazy. I'd do it for a couple days and then get busy and it'd be a week or more before I could do it again.

It was so difficult for me when I first started. Running for just a couple minutes at a time was physically challenging for me, though I hate to admit it. But lately I've gotten seriously back into it. Over the summer I bough the Nike+ chip and a holder for my shoe and I think that has really made the difference with me sticking to this training. It is so inspiring to be able to see exactly how far/fast you ran and then compare all your data online. Plus they have audio inspiration clips they play when you improve your numbers! So fun!

Today, I ran for a full 25 minutes! Straight! I was sooo proud of myself. There were so many times I wanted to stop, but I just kept saying after I got so much farther or run so many more minutes and then after saying that enough I finished without actually having to stop! Plus it was super gorgeous outside! About 70 degrees with a light breeze. Plus some of the trees are starting to change which makes it even more beautiful!

I want to run again tomorrow and do it again, but I have 3 exams and a quiz next week and I like to run at a park that is like 18 min away, so it would take a good chuck out of my day to go, run, and come back.

5 minute warmup, then 25 minutes running. Yep, I did that! (6.3, 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 are all the same. I think to get your body conditioned at this distance before increasing the speed. 8.1 is up to 28 minutes of running)

After finishing the app, I kept walking for about 10 more minutes, it was such a gorgeous day out! My goal is to run a half-marathon in the beginning of April, so every additional minute helps I think!

I love how it keeps track of my route! You can even click on "pace" and it shows your route in colors where green is a good time and then progresses to red, which is slow for you.

I am really proud of myself that I have kept up with this and can run a decent distance now! I keep saying that but I am not good with challenging myself so this is a big deal for me! I have always been intrigued by people who are "runners" and maybe soon I can call myself one too!

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