Vegan Blueberry Hemp Cinnamon Crunch Muffins (. . . an after ten mile run pick-me-up, me and sis visiting the flowers, mammograms and "more" of life at fifty)
Although the blog's been quiet, the life has been anything but that. Let's catch up a bit, then I'll talk about these amazing hemp muffins I created. (Hemp. Seed. My new best friend.) As I mentioned earlier, I signed up to run the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon . . . in two weeks. (Blog flashback moment: I broke my ankle on November 11th.) Yesterday I accomplished my biggest challenge in my training for the half to date: I ran a ten mile training run in just over two hours. Can you say "Happy"? (Which is my favorite running song, thank you Pharrell Williams.) No ankle pain!
These two weeks prior to the run are the most crucial of training times. Endurance is key, as is patience. I have more of one than of the other. No excuse time has arrived. Did I try to make an excuse to NOT run the ten miles. Yes. More than one, in fact. However, I'd really like to clear this half marathon hurdle without coming away from it with an injury--so getting these long runs in prior to the run are critical to a successful half. I charted my training path using the Women's Running Couch to Half Marathon Training calendar, plus I've been incorporating yoga into my workout regimen. I can attest to massive improvement in both my flexibility and time to recover after longer runs. Along with hemp seeds, I am also in love with yoga. Most of my training has taken place on my treadmill owing to this ridiculous winter. It has been nothing short of a miracle that I have not gone insane doing so. Seriously. On the plus side, I've been able to binge watch quite a few episodes of Scandal.
Yesterday, I ran fairly well--at around an eleven/twelve minute pace throughout most of the run--sometimes clocking in at a nine minute mile pace--but that was when the wind was behind me and the flat trail I was on had a decline on it and some super jams were playing in my iTunes. Still, with two biology breaks, slowing to eat half my energy bar and hydrate, I was able to finish my ten miles in two hours. I came home and did a yoga session for runners and another session of yoga for my back. All in all, it was an awesome day. (Until I had to remove my new contact lenses and had to call the ER eye doctor on call for URGENT help with a lens I felt had disappeared up into my brain. Alas, it had not, but still, it's been quite an "ordeal" this week with my vision--more on this in a sec.)
I have had doubts about running this half marathon since signing up for it. Here's my escape plan: lightning in the forecast, NO. Sweltering heat, NO. Snowstorm, NO. Hormonal and depressed, NO. The NO list could go on and on. It's what running does--it messes with your head. However, the YES list includes: forty degree morning and sunshine, YES. Maybe fifty degree morning and sunshine, YES. Non-hormonal and feeling great, YES. Just want to be around fifty-thousand people at six a.m. on a Sunday, YES.
I'll keep you posted.
These muffins came about because of all the hoo-haa I've been hearing about hemp. Hemp this. Hemp that. Hemp. Hemp. Hemp. (Colorado was once my home.) So you put two and two together and you get where I'm coming from. From a vegan perspective, hemp is full of nutrient value. I was in Whole Foods last week and found a bag of hulled hemp and came home with a muffin in mind. The muffins are made with spelt and oat flours, hemp seeds and flaxseeds. I wanted a healthy, energy providing muffin with lots of blueberries. These fit the bill perfectly. I'm giddy with how well they turned out. The recipe is super easy.
Put all dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another. Measure out the frozen blueberries and toss them around in the dry ingredients (which will prevent them from falling to the bottom of the muffins), then mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Fill muffin tins, top with some of the crumbly mixture, bake and viola--muffin heaven.
Hemp perfection! (Recipe below.)
So a couple weeks ago, sissy wanted to take the train down to visit. I was like, are you sure you don't want to fly? NO. She no longer wishes to fly. (Who can blame her? I'm as obsessed as everyone else about the disappearance of this plane. It is beyond comprehension.) Anyway, sissy arrived and we spent three whirlwind days together. Her timing couldn't have been better, we hit the Orchid Show at the Botanical Garden, then hit the Art in Bloom display at the St. Louis Art Museum--both were beautiful surprises.
Me and sissy! (Julie, btw.)
I'm partial to pink, so many of my favorite orchids were pink.
Some white ones, too.
Pink with sun.
Then to Art in Bloom. For those not in the know, here's what this entails. Various works of art at the St. Louis Art Museum are interpreted with floral representation. Some of the "translations" were stunning. Without going into a bunch of detail, I'll just show you and you'll get the gist of it.
And finally, a few quick updates.
(It's been like a month since I've stepped in here. I swear there's a time robber in my life.)
Anyhow. I was in need of two check ups. One for my eyes. Another for my chest. The eyes are no biggie. But I usually put off these things until I shouldn't, i.e., I simply put off seeing doctors because I really prefer to NOT have to see them. At fifty, that's not the best plan and decided that this year, I'd be more vigilant about my health--at least get a good read on the "body": eyes and all. As expected, the vision needed updating. I've worn glasses since I was six. Then in my twenties went to contacts. Then stopped. Now there's these really super slim, "super duper" contacts that apparently go in with little-to-no irritation, and were suggested to me by the OD. I was game. So we gave them a go.
Wowza. Amazing improvement--I hardly even felt like anything was in my eye at all. Until. . . Dr. Thyme came home and said, "OMG, what's WRONG with your eyes?" (I hadn't told him I'd been fitted with contacts.) His alarm sort of scared me, so I looked in the mirror and was clearly having some allergic reaction to my new inner eye peepers. Went to remove them and found them nearly impossible to take out. Panic ensued. Finally got them out. Called the OD the next day for a new fitting. She suggested another brand of lens, and different solution--trying to pin down the possible reaction. Wore them yesterday on my run--and LOVED it--I could see everything! What a difference, I thought. Came home, noticed more red eyes when I looked in the mirror, went to remove them and whoa--lost a lens AGAIN. . . in my head. Panic. Phone call to the exchange. (Of course it's after hours--nothing ever happens within the proper time frame.)
I'm picturing a surgical procedure, loss of sight, hyperventilating. The doc on call was totally calm, which made me calm. My only saving grace was when I finally lay down and shut my eyes--to try to "calm down", I opened them again and then a "pop", the lens literally landed on my cheek. It was suggested I'm probably NOT a good candidate for the newest super-slim lens technology and that I may have a silicone allergy. Harder lenses maybe the next option. But Jesus, what a nightmare with my eyes. I'll gladly take a thicker lens next time--with a plunger to help me remove the damn things, too, thank you.
The silicone thingy now brings me to my mammogram. I have been a bad mammogram patient. BAD. I hate them. Had to start getting them earlier than most because of family history, or lack thereof. This is something all fifty year old women must contend with--you HAVE to get these now because the breast tissue begins changing (owing to menopause) and to properly view your mammograms in the future they need a template for comparing changes down the road. Like all women, I'm deathly afraid of cancer of the breast. I would be so spitting mad if this disease got me. But at the same time, I'm spitting mad to have to endure the procedure to predict potential breast problems. It's all just a psychological mess for me. Well, I wasn't given the A-okay this time from my tech person. I got the lecture, "You've not been here for three years. . . you MAY be called back for an ultrasound." I was also "tense" and needed to relax. What?! Of course I'm tense. And what do you mean, I 'may' be called back for an ultrasound? Now I'm tense, annoyed and mad. Okay, deep breath. Lots of deep breaths. Ladies, GET the mammograms! Relax and don't panic. Of course I called my sister and vented. A cooler head prevailed and I think I'll be less of a "case" if, in fact, I am called back for an ultrasound. Let's hope not though.
And finally. Some of my little seedlings have emerged. The gardener in me anticipates this winter/spring "hell" to go on into May and that our true last frost date won't occur this year until after Mother's Day. So I began my seedlings later than ever this year. By the looks of things, I will be right on target for mid-May planting. I threw some "wheatgrass" into the mix for my smoothies. Easiest thing to grow ever. This may not be something you want to try if you are gluten intolerant. Read the article in my link from Mayo Clinic. I'm growing it because I've had the seeds now for two years and thought, Eh, what the heck?
Vegan Blueberry Hemp Cinnamon Crunch Muffins
(*Makes 12 regular-sized muffins)
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup oat flour
1/3 cup hulled hemp seeds (*I used Bob's Red Mill)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups frozen blueberries
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
For the crunch topping:
2 tablespoons vegan butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon rolled oats
1 tablespoon oat flour
Preheat oven to 375. Line 12 regular-sized muffin tins with paper, then lightly spray. First make your crunch topping--in a small bowl, add all ingredients and mash together with the back of a spoon or a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients. Sift well. In another bowl, add all wet ingredients and whisk together. Add the frozen blueberries to the dry ingredients and toss around a bit to coat them. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry and and mix together well with a spoon. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way full, top with a bit of the crunch topping. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top of muffins are beginning to turn golden around the edges. Remove from oven. Allow to cool completely. Store in a freezer bag for up to two weeks. Remove muffins and bring to room temp and enjoy!