Random recipe: Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mini Blender Muffins

Oh man, these were good. So easy, and really nothing to call the dessert police on. There is no flour or sugar (just a tiny bit of honey). It can all be made in your blender. Since they are mini muffins you can have one, wait a bit and have a few more and not feel guilty at all. You can taste the chocolate, peanut butter, and banana. Yum!

A few notes: since we have a Vita-Mix, we blended a bit too long, and the chocolate chips were no longer in solid form, thus the look of a brownie mixture and the darker color than if the chocolate chips remained solid. Oh, and to change it up a bit we added toffee chips to the mix. Why not?

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mini Blender Muffins (Original version from Averie Cooks)

Prep time: A few mins
Cook time: 8-9 mins
Yield: 15-18 muffins

1 banana
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 dash of salt
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I also added some heath bar bits)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Prepare mini muffin pan(s) with cooking spray or canola oil. Flour the insides or make sure they’re greased very well if you don’t want to use flour.

3. Add all ingredients except chocolate chips into a blender and blend until creamy.

4. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

5. Use a tablespoon and distribute batter evenly to muffin pan(s).

6. Bake for 8-9 mins. Let them cool in the pans for about 10 mins before removing.

Empathy and Grit

Yesterday my team went out to lunch and one of the items we ordered was polenta fries. One of my favorites especially with the dipping sauce that often comes with them. I found that polenta fries are not something that everyone had tried before. Polenta made from cornmeal make me think of southern cooking most likely because of the cornmeal and how similar it is to the texture of grits.

Which leads me to the true topic of this blog post. Grit. Yes, polenta fries at lunch made me think of grit, which made me think of the book I recently finished called “Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck” by Jon Acuff. He has a plethora of ideas about careers, and adds in some great ideas about empathy and grit. Empathy is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I can often plow through the day checking items off the long to do list, going from thing to thing, and while people are my top priority, it might not always come across that way. Acuff gets right to the point and this idea kept it simple for me to remember the two components of empathy:

“At times, empathy will feel complicated, but it’s not. It only involves two things: Understanding someone else’s needs. Acting on them.” page 191-192

I can do that. Understand, and act on needs. Can you?

Which leads me to grit. Gosh, I love that word. What is it about the word grit that makes me think of rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty? Doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. Sweat, blood, tears. Well I prefer just the sweat, I can leave the blood and tears behind.

“Grit is being stubborn in the face of fear. Grit is the first time you try something and it’s the thousandth time too. Grit is believing in can when can’t is loud. Grit is expecting fear and moving forward anyway.” page 213

Folks often call me relentless and it is true. If I get something in my mind that I am going to do it, well I do. I do not always care what it takes. I am going to find a way to make it happen. It takes grit to do that. I am stubborn and I am going to move forward anyway. Want to roll up your sleeves and join me?

“It was never a dress”

Why does the women’s bathroom sign have to have the woman wearing a dress? Why is there not another way to show the difference between a man and a woman? Which is why I love this campaign: “It was never a dress.” The campaign has been making its way around Facebook, but I had to see it show up a few times before anyone gave actual credit to the website and the company behind the campaign. Axosoft, a software company launched the site — this is an excerpt from the About page on their website:

“It Was Never a Dress is an invitation to shift perceptions and assumptions about women and the audacious, sensitive, and powerful gestures they make every single day. In science, technology, arts, mathematics, politics, houses of worship, on the streets, and in our homes, insightful women are often uninvited, overlooked, or just plain dismissed. Through storytelling, community building, innovation and creative disruptions, It Was Never a Dress will foster necessary conversations, vital voices, and images from around the world that honor ALL women. When we see women differently… we see the world differently!”

This campaign is about seeing different ideas about women in new ways. How simple and yet impactful an image could be to turn a dress into a cape. For someone who grew up loving her Wonder Woman Underoos, I am just the kind of girl who sees the cape and not the dress. Of course, I am a summer dress wearing fiend. I will try to suck every possible moment of warmth out of the summer to wear a dress and sandals, or flip flops, but I am a cape flying girl first and foremost. With so few superheros for girls growing up, you latch on to one quickly, and mine had a cape!

Take a moment to explore the website. Click on the page for “Disruptions” and create your own version of “It was Never A Dress.” And, if you are feeling inspired share your story. They even have stickers and t-shirts and the proceeds go to “STEAM fields” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). Please share “It Was Never A Dress” with others.

Don’t lie to me about Santa.

We lie to kids all the time. We should stop. I often talk to Chris about all the Hallmark holidays that have gotten out of hand. Maybe I am a buzz kill, but we are basically telling kids lies and then later expect them to trust us. My parents did it and I turned out fine (at least I think I did), but I think I might just stop the craziness when I have kids. I thought Stefanie Wilder-Taylor said it just right in “Gummi Bears Should Not be Organic:

“Early on their life is filled with fantasies they believe to be true, such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy (notice I capitalized Tooth Fairy—because, like God, the Tooth Fairy is still very much a real and venerable life force in my house.) And who puts those fantasies in their head? We do. So when your child tries to convince you that the reason they took all the forks out of the kitchen is because they needed them to help run the jelly bean factory in their closet, how can we be mad when we’ve convinced them that a fat guy with a sack of toys is going to be sliding down their chimney?” page 92-93

She is right. We lie and then we expect them not to lie to us. Besides I think most kids do not even know the true meaning of Christmas. They think of it as a plethora of gifts, a tree, photos with Santa, and whatever other crazy traditions we have started. What if instead we all went back to the true meaning of Christmas? Giving to those in need and being together. Sadly, because of all the crazy hubbub of Christmas, I have become a Grinch. I do not want to buy you a gift just to get you a gift, and I do not want you to do the same. I do not need a thing.

It is funny — I decided to Google “the true meaning of Christmas” and I got such an array of answers about Jesus, God, and lots of other religious babble. One site did give me an answer I liked — that the true meaning of Christmas is Love. Now that is something I can wrap my arms around. Can we show our kids that? Instead of telling them about a fat, jolly Santa, the North Pole, and lots and lots of presents, why not show them how to give to kids in their community that do not have as much? Maybe sharing a coat with someone who does not have one? Or selecting toys to give to children that do not have any. What then are you teaching your kids? Love, gratitude, sharing, and appreciation for all they have each day?

I do not want to raise kids that feel they are just going to get presents upon presents under the Christmas tree, and so many they cannot even begin to appreciate them. That is commercialism and consumerism at its best. I would rather dote on them throughout the year, rather than swoop in on one day out of the year. Besides it feels like a lot of pressure, and is it really worth it? Call me a Grinch, but I do not want to start that tradition.

Random recipe: Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

I never used to enjoy eating my vegetables. They were always so gross to me. My mom usually purchased frozen or canned vegetables and then I truly think she pulverized them. Overcooked, often with added vinegar (um gross), and if lettuce at all it was usually iceberg. I do not blame her, maybe it was all she knew. I was that girl in college that basically ate cereal at every meal, or anything white (mashed potatoes, corn, pasta) — you get the point.

Until Chris.

Yes, Chris changed my vegetable consuming life. Let me just say we rarely have frozen vegetables, and other than canned tomatoes for a potential recipe, I do not think we ever have canned vegetables. Fresh. Always fresh. We live in the perfect state to enjoy local farmers and their tasty bounty. I now crave vegetables, and make sure to have them during each meal of the day.

For at least the last five years I have consumed a green smoothie for breakfast. Usually it is this fruit version, or this chocolate yummy goodness. Lately though we’ve wanted to try new options to put in the rotation. Every version we have must contain spinach or kale. I think of it like having a salad for breakfast without having to masticate every piece. You do not even know you are drinking all the greenness. I found the original recipe on Averie Cooks, but have adapted it to my liking. The pomegranate juice adds a bit of tart in with the sweet blueberries. Oh, and for those of you that are grossed out by adding spinach, you cannot taste the spinach, but you get all the nutrients.

INGREDIENTS:
12 ounces frozen blueberries
Large handful of spinach
1 med/large ripe banana
3/4 cup  pomegranate juice (can also try blueberry, grape, cherry)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine all ingredients in an amazing blender (my personal favorite is my trusty Vita-Mix and blend until smooth and creamy.
2. Serve immediately.