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healthy cheesecake


33 Things That Happened in my 33rd Year

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That picture up there if of me at my birthday party last year. A lot has changed in 364 days.

Today's my last day as a 33-year-old. For reasons I can't fully clarify, I always thought about turning 33 when I was a child. There was something this particular age that epitomized adulthood to my young brain. I always looked forward to it wistfully. When 33 arrived, I was thrilled. And now, looking back on it a year later, I can assuredly say my 33rd year did not disappoint. In honor of tomorrow's 34th birthday, here are 33 things that happened in my 33rd year. 

1.) I traded in a diet full of fake meat, lots of cheese, and tons of pasta and chips for one that focused on clean foods, whole ingredients, and lots of fresh produce, fiber, lean proteins and healthy fats.

2.) I became a person who works out regularly. In years past I've always gone through phases where I'd work out a few weeks or months here or there, but this year I got myself into the routine of legitimately working out 4-6 days a week every week. 

3.) I married the love of my life.

4.) I visited Belgium for the first time.

5.) I refocused this blog to showcase my new interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle through clean eating and fitness.

6.) I received a check from the state of Oregon for over $200 in unclaimed property refunds.

7.) I accidentally shredded said check.

8.) I went to three different bachelorette parties thrown in my honor and spent time with some of my favorite female friends.

9.) I developed a serious passion for running and completed 12 races in 2015 and two races so far in 2016.

10.) I learned how to make cleaner versions of all the foods I love, from cupcakes to cookies to ice cream to macaroni and cheese to lasagna to eggplant parmesan.

11.) I tried trampoline aerobics with my friend Megan.

12.) I tried stand-up paddle boarding with my niece Grace.

13.) I tried indoor rock climbing with my husband Mike.

14.) I spent a relaxing weekend in Bend at a lovely house with a hot tub in the company of my sweetheart thanks to the generosity of a former coworker.

15.) I went from being unable to do even one push-up to being able to bust out 20.

16.) I got legitimately good at doing burpees.

17.) I spent a lot of time writing, working on articles, and babysitting.

18.) I said no to a few invitations I knew were going to absolutely drain me and I did so without guilt.

19.) I spent two different days in two different emergency rooms with two different family members.

20.) I got into the habit of prepping all my meals for the week on Sundays. 

21.) I lost 40 pounds.

22.) I mourned the fact that none of my grandparents lived long enough to see me get married.

23.) I didn't get sick once beyond a minor sore throat or case of the sniffles here or there.

24.) I spent a few days in Paris.

25.) I reached the Purple Level on Nike Plus, which translated to 1,553 lifetime running miles.

26.) I gathered with two other families for our 31st or 32nd (we've lost track at this point) annual camping trip.

27.) I watched a lot of Netflix movies while cuddled up on the couch next to my husband.

28.) I made a raw, vegan, gluten-free cheesecake for my husband's birthday that everyone in my family raved about.

29.) I made clean gingerbread cookies for Christmas that nobody in my family really liked. 

30.) I published a lot of articles that didn't excite me but paid the bills and several articles I felt genuinely proud of, too.

31.) I'm pretty sure I didn't throw up once, which HAS to be a record for me.

32.) I rode a camel.

33.) I planned a honeymoon to Morocco with my husband and we spent a week having the adventure of a lifetime

I capped off my last day as a 33-year-old with a 16-mile run in the rain and am officially dedicating the rest of the weekend to nothing but relaxation and fun. 


This picture is of me last week, enjoying my natural habitat of daily sweat sessions and clean eating. (As a reminder I'm all for everything in moderation, which means I also enjoyed the heck out of all kinds of food this year, including breads, pastries, and sweetened mint tea galore in Morocco. If you never allow yourself to indulge in anything, I think you're holding yourself back from fully enjoying your life.) Here's to another year that will hopefully be healthy, balanced, fun, and productive. And here's hoping I don't accidentally shred any checks next year. 



Birthday Treats: A Little of This & A Little of That


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My husband’s birthday was this past Monday and we were in full-on celebration mode all weekend. (This man is worth celebrating 365 days a year, but that’s a sappy post for another day.) When I asked him what kind of treats he wanted, he had very specific requests: cupcakes, cheese, Jelly Beans, and olives. Easy! "Great," I said, and supplemented with chips and salsa, crackers, dark chocolate-covered almonds, and popcorn.


Here's how it looked all laid out. Pretty, right? But more importantly: pretty simple.


I'm a devout cupcake maker, so for me the most important part of the puzzle was the cupcakes. My husband chose two flavors: Peanut Butter and Brooklyn Brownie. I always make vegan cupcakes despite not being a vegan because I prefer the way they taste. (I once spent 40 weeks making the 40 cupcake recipes in the cookbook VEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OVER THE WORLD, so I consider that book my baking Bible.) I toyed with the idea of cleaning up the cupcakes by using less sugar and oil, but ultimately I decided that this wasn't MY birthday and I could go as clean and crazy as I want when it is. I made two tiny healthy tweaks (I used whole wheat flour and homemade peanut butter), but for the most part I left these decadent cupcake recipes as-is. 

You can find the peanut butter cupcake recipe I used at Miss Marzipan.  
You can find the peanut butter frosting recipe I used at Bake and Destroy
You can find the Brooklyn brownie recipe I used at Vegan Bandit


Those are chopped walnuts on top of the Brooklyn brownie cupcakes and blackberries on the peanut butter. 


Cupcake success!


The only other homemade element here were the crackers, both of which were THREE-INGREDIENT recipes. The recipes I used for flax crackers and cheesy star crackers can be found in the cookbook SUPERCHARGED FOOD: EAT CLEAN, GREEN AND VEGETARIAN


For his actual birthday, my husband wanted cheesecake. I thought it would be fun to do cheesecake two ways: a super-light version for breakfast and a more decadent one for dessert. This was how we started our day on Monday. 


The recipe for these Upside Down Cheesecakes came from FIT GIRLS COOK, a cookbook from Fit Girls Guide. 


This perfectly-portioned frozen treat was a sweet way to start the day. 


For dessert, I wanted a show-stopper. So I turned to DELICIOUSLY ELLA for a raw, vegan, gluten-free berry cheesecake. You can find the entire recipe at her site but I'll also go through it step by step below. 

STEP ONE: Slice three bananas and freeze them. Also freeze 1 cup of fresh blueberries (the water content in frozen blueberries is too high, so you'll need to freeze your own.) Soak 2 cups cashews in a bowl of water. You'll need to freeze and soak for at least four hours (I did this step overnight.)

STEP TWO: To make the base layer, crush 1 1/2 cup almonds in a food processor. If your food processor isn't particularly strong, be warned: mine burnt out during this process, even though I was working in small batches. I realized after the fact that I needed to chop the almonds into small pieces  before adding them to the food processor to prevent this. R.I.P., yet another food processor. After crushing the almonds, add 2 1/2 cups dates and blend until a sticky dough forms. Press the mixture into a greased cake pan and put in the freezer. 


STEP THREE: Now it's time for the middle layer. Supposedly you're still using a food processor for this step, but if your food processor died like mine did you've switched to a blender. In your blender, combine 2 cups soaked cashew nuts, 2 frozen bananas, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup apple juice, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Combine until smooth and creamy. Remove the base layer from the freezer and add 3/4 of the middle layer to the top before freezing again. Reserve the last 1/4 of the mixture to be combined with the top layer. You'll need to freeze the new mixture for at least 20 minutes.


STEP FOUR: After waiting twenty minutes, combine the remaining 1/4 of the middle layer mixture with 1 cup freshly frozen blueberries, 1 cup strawberries, 1 frozen banana, 4 dates, 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Blend until smooth, pour over the middle layer, and put the entire cake back in the freezer. Freeze for at least two hours. Remove from the freezer and let it thaw for a few minutes before serving.  

It's a time-consuming project, but so worth the delicious effort. 


We also got in some good physical exercise this weekend since my husband wanted to go cross-country skiing. Physical activity, clean treats,  a few not-so-clean treats thrown in, and a lot of quality time with my sweetheart: that's my idea of a perfect birthday weekend.