04 Nov

Oatmeal Reese cookies

DSCF3825

My dad and nonna are clearing out the kitchen in preparation for their brand new kitchen renos. My nonna found this Bunnykins plate along with a 2 matching mugs (a tall slim one and a short  fat one) and a matching bowl in that inconvenient and obscure over-the-fridge cabinet where unused dishes are sent to retire.

I suspect my sister is jealously staring at the Bunnykins plate right now and not even looking at the cookies on it.

As kids we each had a set of Bunnykins china. I’m surprised that survived our childhood given all the other glass dish casualties. One of us had a mug and bowl, the other had a mug and a plate. I can’t quite remember whose was the bowl and whose was the plate, but I vividly whose mug was whose. I thought the mugs reflected our respective appearances — Vicki’s was the tall slim mug and mine was the short fat one. She was taller than me until I was about 7 years old, but she was always skinnier. Still is.

Anyway, Vic, your Bunnykins china is safe and sound in my cupboard in case you’re looking for it.

DSCF3824

For those readers more interested in the cookies on the plate, it was a recipe I threw together on Wednesday night when I felt like baking. I had very few ingredients hence the recipe only makes 6-8 albeit large cookies. I had no flour, no white sugar, no raisins or chocolate chips, but I managed to bang out a really tasty cookie that Matt “can’t stop eating” (his words, not mine).

I thought the chunks of pb cups would stay in tact, like chocolate chips. They did not. They sort of just melted into the cookie making it sweeter. Oh well.

DSCF3822

Oatmeal Reese Cookies

Ingredients

1/4 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. quick oats
1/2 c. besan (aka chick pea flour)
1 t baking powder
2 t vanilla extract
4 Reese peanut butter cups, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350*F.

Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Form 2 tablespoons of cookie dough into a ball and place it on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough – you should get 6 to 8 cookies out of this.

Bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until golden brown at the edges but still very soft on top. The cookies will harden slightly as they cool but should remain very chewy.

DSCF3826

DSCF3828


This recipe is part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies being hosted by Abby Sweets.

Week 5: Candy Corn Cookies
Week 4: Apple Pie Squares (Vegan)
Week 3: Superhero Balls (Raw & Vegan)
Week 2: Chewy Spiced Ginger Cookies (Vegan)
Week 1: Double Chocolate Biscotti

04 Nov

Drop Sets

*Gasp*

That’s what my muscles look like. SHOCKED.

I’ve started up a new weightlifting routine for the next 3 weeks of All. Drop. Sets. Intense, I know.

The point of a drop set is to hit failure and mutilate the muscles. When I say hit failure what I mean is not “I’m getting really tired”, or even “Hot damn! This is tough!”, what I mean is: honest to God, gun to your head, you cannot lift any more weight.

The strategy:
Start with 1 to 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps.  Rest 1 minute. 1 drop set.
The drop set be about 22 reps in total and will require 3 different weights. For the drop set: go to failure (~10 reps) then drop the weight by 25%, go to failure again (~8 reps) drop the weight by 25% again, go to failure one more time (~4 reps).

I had heard that since the drop set technique places a lot of stress on the targeted muscles it should only be performed for one or two exercises in each workout. I hadn’t done a whole drop set workout before so when I found this one on bodybuilding.com I was intrigued. I e-mailed IFBB pro Marika Johansson who created the workout to ask her more about it.

Marika Johansson

She responded to me right away (love that!) saying

I don’t know where you heard about that you can only do 2 drop sets in a workout…but it is nonsense.

If your body is fuelled with right nutrition before and after the workout and [your muscles] have been recovered then it can certainly handle to do a full drop set workout. . . You want to mutilate [your muscles] in the gym and then recover and fuel them to grow while they resting.

I recommend you do this workout for about 3 weeks and then switch to another regime of the ones I have listed.

. . . This is just a temporary training program as any other to shock the muscles and then you switch for another again to shock the muscles.

I recommend that you listen to your body. If it feels like it is over trained then it might be that you don’t eat enough to recover or maybe you haven’t got enough rest days between your workouts. If you feel your body can’t train this hard then take an extra rest day.


Drop Sets Workout

Warm-Up: ~12 reps
Drop Set: Go to failure (~10 reps), drop the weight 25% to failure (~8 reps), drop the weight 25% to failure (~4 reps)

Chest/Biceps

Incline Dumbbell Presses                               2 warm-up; 1 drop set
Incline Dumbbell Fly                                        1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Bench Press                                                          2 warm-up; 1 drop set
Cable Crossovers                                               1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Dumbbell Curls                                                   2 warm-up; 1 drop set
Preacher Curl Machine                                    1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Barbell Curl                                                           1 warm-up; 1 drop set

Back/Triceps

Lat Pulldown to the Front                               2 warm-up; 1 drop set
Narrow Grip Pulldowns                                   1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Seated Cable Row                                               1 warm-up; 1 drop set
One Arm Dumbbell Rows                                1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Narrow Bench Press in Smith Machine     1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Triceps Pushdowns with Rope                      1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Overhead Triceps Extension Machine       1 warm-up; 1 drop set

Shoulders/Abs

Shoulder Press Machine                                 2 warm-up; 1 drop set
Reverse Fly Machine                                        1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Front Raises                                                         1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Lateral Raises                                                      1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Cable Upright Row                                            1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Crunches                                                               2 sets x 15 reps
Roman Chair                                                        2 sets to failure
Sit-ups                                                                    2 sets x 20 reps

Legs

Leg Press                                                              2 warm-up; 1 drop set
Deep Squats                                                        2 warm-up; 1 drop set
Leg Extension                                                    1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Lying Leg Curl                                                   2 warm-up; 1 drop set
Seated Leg Curl                                                 1 warm-up; 1 drop set
Standing Calf Raises                                        1 warm-up; 1 drop set


So far I’ve done the first two days and, let me tell you, my upper body is SORE. I love it. I’m had planned on doing the shoulders workout today but I’m thinking of doing legs instead to give my upper body a break. In 3 weeks I believe my arms will be weapons of mass destruction.

See the results of this workout after 3 weeks here.

02 Nov

Braised Pumpkin with Spiced Risotto

Remember this lovely green pumpkin?

Well, I turned half of it into something delicious with it last night for World Vegan Day. A recipe straight from my own head too (with a wee bit of inspiration from Mario B.) Braised Pumpkin and Spiced Risotto : d

Braised Pumpkin

Ingredients

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 of a large pumpkin, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1/4 c white wine
3 T brown sugar
1 T dried sage
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add the onions. Let them brown.

Once the onions are browned add the pumpkin and garlic. Add just enough wine to halfway cover the pumpkin. Start with 1/4 cup and build from there.

Add the brown sugar, sage, and salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and let the pumpkin cook until easily pierced with a fork.

Remove the lid and raise the heat to high. Let the remaining liquid boil away, tossing the vegetables frequently, until you have a thick sauce. Garnish with sage and serve over a bed of spiced risotto.

Spiced Risotto

Ingredients

2 T butter or vegan margarine
1 medium onion, diced
1 c. arborio rice
1.5 c. white wine
2 c. water
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 whole allspice berries
salt to taste

Directions

Heat the water. In a separate pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and fry very until translucent.

When the onions have softened, add the rice and stir constantly for 1 minute until the rice starts to become translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring.

Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot water, spices, and salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding water one ladle at a time as it is absorbed by the rice. This will take about 15 minutes until the rice is cooked.

Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 2 minutes.

01 Nov

World Vegan Day

November 1st is World Vegan Day to kick off World Vegan Month! Can you can commit yourself to eating vegan for just one meal? Great! The whole day? Awesome! The month of November? AMAZING!

Eating vegan means sticking to a diet based on legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables. It means avoiding animals and fish protein as well as eggs and dairy. A vegan diet is 100% plant-based and free from all animal products.

Many vegans site the lack of ethical treatment of food animals in modern factory farming practices as the primary reason for going vegan (you can read more about that here). Health and environmental sustainability related to a vegan diet are other reasons for adopting this lifestyle.

So try cooking vegan today!

Recipes:

Breakfast

Soups

Mains

Sides

Desserts

Green Smoothies

Bread