Category Archives: Fitness

Easy Vegan Organic Energy Bars

vegan energy barsYesterday I had a craving for a high-energy, chocolatey snack, so I decided to make my own all-organic, vegan energy bars. I have seen various versions of these online lately so I had a basic idea of what goes in them and in what quantities. I made this recipe up myself as I went along and I was very pleased with the results. There’s no baking involved, but I did stick them in the freezer for 45 min. to set before I cut them. My two-year-old wasn’t crazy about them but the rest of the family gave rave reviews.

Ingredients:
1 c. dried fruit (I used a combination of apricots & raisins)
1 c. almond meal (if you use almond butter you can reduce the amount of water you add)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus about 1/4 c. more to sprinkle on top just before freezing)
1/2
cup water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tbs. maple syrup
1 tbs. walnut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice blend
2 cups raw nuts and or seeds of choice (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds)

Blend all ingredients except the 2 cups of nuts in a Vitamix or food processor. The mixture should be moist but not soupy, kind of like chunky nut butter. Scrape into a bowl and stir in 2 cups nuts and seeds. Press into an 8″ x 8″ square pan and sprinkle the additional shredded coconut on top. Freeze for 45 min., then cut and enjoy.

 

Slowing Down to Speed Up

“I don’t want my children’s education to be so fast-paced and so abstract that there is not time to meditate on the fantastical. I do not want them to treat glorious facts as mundane.”
–Leigh Bortins, The Question

I was just meditating today on the concept of slowing down to speed up, and then I got this quote in a Classical Conversations e-mail, validating my thoughts. The slowing down/speeding up concept is that if you stop and think about what is really important to you and just focus on that one thing… or maybe one or two simple goals related to that thing, you’ll soon end up leaps and bounds ahead of where you’d be if you had a checklist of 10-50 things you’re trying to accomplish all at once. It’s so easy to get distracted and over-schedule these days, yet this “busy-ness” is getting us nowhere.

To share a personal example, last year all I really wanted to focus on was home schooling my children well. I just wanted to be a good mom, and a good teacher, and in a good mood, more often than not. Pretty simple conceptually, although all moms know that this is far easier said than done for nearly all of us. As I focused on just this one main goal–whereas I normally have a minimum of 6-7 challenging goals going simultaneously–I started to feel so light and unencumbered. I actually had time to think, and read for pleasure (!), and just sit and enjoy my kids. I was so unaccustomed to these luxuries that I kept feeling guilty or lost at first. I had a sneaking suspicion that I was forgetting something and that my bubble would be burst at any moment. But instead, what happened was that eventually other goals that I had not previously been able to accomplish when I tackled them more directly and distractedly, began to come to fruition as well. Consequently, not only are my kids and I now enjoying home schooling immensely, I am also in my best physical shape in more than a decade, and I have my own business that is actually bringing in money! And those are just two of the bonus goals–there are several other “lesser” goals that would never even have made my top ten list in the past that I am also making progress on.  WOO. HOO.

Slowing down is such an important thing to do. As much as we like to identify ourselves by our occupations or bodies or reputations, we are in fact vibrant, creative spirits that long for beauty and truth and love. In a world that constantly tries to suck the meaning out of everything, we are yearning to make our lives meaningful. For most of us, I’m willing to bet that our dreams are pretty much just sitting there beside us, waiting for us to turn and pick them up, but we’re just flying by, too oblivious to notice. If you think things are moving too fast, or you’re frustrated that you haven’t been able to accomplish things despite putting them on your “list” for years, try slowing down for awhile. Breathe, and assess your values and priorities. And then if you’re really feeling courageous, try organizing your life to actually support those top priorities, at the expense of lesser ones if necessary. I can almost guarantee it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

Fortified (I’m Turning 40 Tomorrow!)

Tomorrow is the much-anticipated big day… the day I happily wave good-bye to my thirties (not that it was a bad decade, by any means) and turn to greet a fresh new decade ripe with possibilities and full of the promise of great ongoing progress. I guess we all love fresh starts, and although we can theoretically have one any day we choose, it always helps to have the momentum or pomp and circumstance of an appropriate event like a milestone birthday to take full advantage of the opportunity.

So, I keep getting asked what I am going to do to celebrate. In fact, I began celebrating at the beginning of the year and will continue to do so for as long as possible…hopefully forever. My gift to myself for this year and this decade, at least, is unprecedented health and balance. For one thing, I decided to get back into athletic shape, similar to when I was in high school, playing sports year-round and setting school and local records left and right. I want exercise and athleticism to again be part of my daily regimen, and even identity. I love the discipline and the connection with my body, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with working out regularly. So, as I’ve blogged about before, I signed up for a Spartan Race and am enjoying the training immensely.

I’ve also been pampering myself a lot more. I’ve never been much of a girly-girl, so for me one of the ultimate luxuries is making time to read, for pleasure and for my own education. Sitting down with a cup of organic decaf coffee and a great book for even half an hour is the equivalent of a spa day or a week’s vacation at this point in my life. On a similar note, writing just for the sake of writing is another guilty pleasure of mine, which is why I began this new blog earlier this year. In fact, at this very moment, I should be cajoling my children to do their math work (we home school), but since they’re playing happily together outside and the baby is napping, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to flex my fingers and reflect on how I’m feeling. Math can wait, especially on a beautiful day like today.

I like to keep things simple and natural, and every so often I have to remind myself to shed the unnecessary and get back to the basics. I’m feeling more comfortable in my own skin than ever before, somewhat as if I’ve been rediscovering what I’ve always known and loved about myself. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve been given. Are there things I want that I can’t have right now? Things I regret? Sure, a few. But overall I am in a really great place, and it feels very solid and secure. I certainly didn’t get to this place by myself, but I’ve worked hard to get here nonetheless, and there are things I’ve learned along the way that can’t ever be taken away from me now. In short, I have so much more than a birthday to celebrate, so it’s hard for me to plan a day, or a week, or a party that could possibly capture who I am and how I’m feeling this year (especially on my budget – ha!). Instead, I will do my best to celebrate my Life, and all it includes, to the fullest, each and every day. Cheers!

I am Spartan, hear me roar!

Spartan graphic  I recently signed up for a Spartan race and I am so happy I did. The Spartan team sends me daily workouts, so I never get bored or wonder what I should do on a particular day. I never thought I could find the time to exercise EVERY DAY, but somehow when I see that specific physical assignment in my inbox each morning I feel (happily) compelled to rise to the occasion. I have been an athlete all my life, but now that I’m older and have young children I’ve been struggling to maintain a consistent exercise regimen unless I have a fun event to train for. I don’t like to run for running’s sake. I need a goal to pursue… a challenge to look forward to. The fact that I get to crawl through mud and climb walls and things makes it all the more exciting.

As if the workout motivation weren’t enough, Spartan also sends daily recipes incorporating most of my very favorite foods. So even my meals have gotten more interesting since joining this event, which is really more of a community. Love it. Thank you, Spartan! Looking forward to getting my @$$ kicked later this Spring, and I’m sure I’ll be back for more later in the year. Haha.