Black Bean Brownies: Make it for Bae

Happy almost Valentine’s Day! ❤ ❤ ❤ I hope you’re super pumped to spend this weekend with the people you love! I’m hoping to fill Saturday with a friend-brunch, a good run, a baseball game and lots of warm blankets. This cold weather is killing me, but at least it’s sunny.

In honor of love, I had to try a new to me recipe full of lovely ingredients to share with some of my favorite girls. These Black Bean Brownies are absolutely phenomenal! Of course, I didn’t let anyone come into the kitchen during this baking adventure because I didn’t want any biased opinions. Luckily, the end product was better than I could have ever hoped for. I was expecting a hint of “earthy” flavor, but these brownies were fudgy and so decadent. I cannot say enough about this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie! If you’re skeptical, you should totally make them for laughs (and be surprised).

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Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (15 oz can, drained and rinsed well)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup quick cook oats
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 dish. Toss all of the ingredients besides the chocolate chips into a food processor or blender (I used a blender) and blend thoroughly until smooth and batter-like. Stir in chocolate chips and spread the mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 15-18 minutes (18 worked best for me) then cool for an additional 10 minutes before cutting.

Again, huge shoutout and thank you to Chocolate Covered Katie for this recipe; I can’t wait to explore her site even more!

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These are especially amazing with a cold glass of almond milk, and I can only imagine that a scoop of ice cream would be to die for! Let me know if you try them! Happy Valentine’s weekend, y’all! ❤

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Weekend Recap: Mountains + Asheville

Happy Sunday! I hope your weekend was fantastic and included some sort of fun moving, eating, and relaxing! Saturday included a super spontaneous adventure for me, and it was a much needed break from school thoughts plus helped fulfill some of my restless desires for something out of the ordinary.

But first, let’s rewind to Friday! The whole day was freezing and rainy, so I was mostly just craving a cozy, restful night somewhere warm. After class, I enjoyed a pajama afternoon and got some job hunting business taken care of before dozing off for a quick nap. When I woke up, I was a little more energized, so a few friends and I ventured out to a local coffee shop to share drinks and catch up after a busy week. It was a much needed rest day after a whirlwind of a week.

Now for Saturday! It began with a 4 mile run with one of my favorite running and nutrition loving friends, Krista. We decided on a 9:00am morning run knowing full well that saying 9:00 meant at least 9:15.  Around 9:45, we set out for our run. It was perfect weather (40 degrees and sunny), and it’s always so nice to get a run in before most of the world is out and about.

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After our run, I ended up making unexpected plans to drive north to the mountains for a little day trip and hike at Tallulah Gorge. We hopped in the car around noon, picked up warm drinks, and hit the road. We climbed the thousands of stairs to see the falls, and man, it gave me the typical “I love the mountains. I want to live here.” feelings. After our little hiking break, we ended up continuing our drive north to venture through downtown Clayton, Georgia. Such a cute downtown with lots of antiques!

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On up we drove, until we saw the 16 miles to North Carolina sign and thought, “Why not?” We drove into North Carolina with intentions to try the best barbecue around, but when we realized Asheville was just another hour, we again asked, “Why not?” This is why I love my friends! It’s so much better to ask the question why not on days like this rather than why!

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We ended up in Asheville around 6:00, and strolled through downtown while we shivered uncontrollably. After asking the cashier at a local shop for her dinner recommendation, we made our way to Asheville Brewing Company. Chelsea and I were feeling pizza all the way, so we went with the Biltmore. It was loaded with peppers, onions, spinach, pepperoni, hamburger, and ham, and it is a frontrunner for the best pizza I’ve ever had. If you’re in Asheville, you MUST try this place. Not to mention, the spinach artichoke dip with carrots, celery, pita chips, and tortilla chips was to die for and plenty for our hungry group of 4.

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Though we didn’t get to explore too much in Asheville, the random day trip was totally worth it. We spent lots of time in the car playing different games and chatting about life, and I just know these are the things I’ll remember about college. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted but so satisfied with how we spent our day. Of course, I could’ve done schoolwork or cleaned my house, but those are the things that can wait.

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What did you do this weekend? Is there anywhere you’re dying to go for the day? (I’ll go!)    

Fitness Gadgets: Worth the Purchase?

Hiya friends! For a quick life recap since the last time I chatted with you, I’m in my last semester as a Marketing student at UGA. Still running, reading lots of blogs, trying new recipes, and getting back into a little routine at the beginning of this new, hectic final semester as an undergraduate. It’s definitely a crazy time in life with big life decisions ahead, but I’m super excited about it all. It’s pretty fun to be in a stage of life where I have the ability to look for jobs and move pretty much anywhere. Cheers to that!

While sending out resumes, tutoring some pretty great people, and working on all 18 hours of classes, I’m still trying to gear myself up to train for a race. I’ve already decided to focus much more on speed for the next one, so I’m not registering until I know I can commit to doing my best. In the meantime, I’ve jumped on the gadget trend to keep me motivated to always be moving during the day and to keep an eye on my sleep trends. After researching all the options (FitBit, Jawbone, Nike Fuel, Garmin VivoFit, etc.), I went with the Jawbone UP24.

Here are some things I’m loving thus far:

  • It’s pretty stylish (or at least as stylish as a black band can be). It looks sporty, and it’s not too big. Also, the charging portal is easy to use, and UP24 is comfy enough to sleep in.
  • It’s easy to check the app on my phone to see how close I am to reaching my 10,000 steps goal, and I’ve gotten an idea of what a typical day on campus looks like with regards to my activity level apart from a scheduled workout time.

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  • UP24 has further reminded me that I don’t get enough sleep, and in turn, it has given me an idea of the ideal bedtime to get a decent amount of rest and feel my best the next day. This is huge for me right now because I’m trying to cut back on the coffee drinking and go for only green tea. Green tea is great and all, but despite comparative amounts of caffeine, it doesn’t give me the morning boost that coffee does. A good night’s sleep is a must!

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  • The app is well designed and connects with other apps like MyFitnessPal for food tracking and RunKeeper for gps and running stats. Though I’m not a huge fan of counting calories on MyFitnessPal, it’s great to set goals and get an idea of where your falling short (too few fruits or veggies, not enough protein, etc), so the ability to look at everything in the UP app is very convenient.

What I have to be careful of:

  • The accessibility of the app can be consuming. The first few days I was constantly checking my steps to see if I had met my goal. The extra motivation is all fine and good, but if it causes you to feel shame or worry when you don’t reach the goal or take a rest day, the good motivation quickly turns to bad obsession.
  • Steps aren’t the best way to calculate overall fitness, so if I don’t go on a long walk or run but go to the gym and bike plus lift weights, my body is happy but UP24 isn’t. This is worth being aware of if you do a variety of fitness activities that don’t always involve taking lots of steps. Enjoy the movement you love. Don’t let a band tell you you aren’t moving enough.

As I journey into a new to me field of Social Media Marketing, I’ll be writing blog posts more regularly and taking a chance to examine how aspects of sociology and social media play a role in how we eat and how we approach fitness. Jawbone approaches social media and connectivity in a range of ways. The devices offer a Team option that allows you to connect, compete, and motivate people you know.

Jawbone is active across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Each platform uses consistent pictures, and they have also used the platforms for sharing other information in the fitness and health industry. As we become more immersed in the era of the Internet of Things (check out the link for Jawbone’s take on this phenomenon), activity trackers will become more and more intricate, and we will have even more capability to control and connect with our environment.

How do you feel about being connected through more and more devices? Is the smartphone enough for you, or are you jumping for the chance to buy a Nest thermostat, the newest activity tracker, and Google glass?

Let’s pretend it’s the 1st…

Even though we’re almost a quarter of the way finished (what!?), here’s what I’m determined to do in October!

>>> Take a road trip to the mountains // I’ve gotten to go three times this semester, but I would love to see the leaves change and get in a solid hike before it gets too cold. Also, I am constantly going through jars of apple butter, so a stop by the apple orchard would be a priority.

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>>> Make a pot of chili // Hooray for cool, fall weather and a reason to use the crockpot. Instead of regular chili, I’ll probably go for this white chicken chili. It’s seriously the best and easiest recipe, and I can already imagine sitting on the porch in pj pants with a bowl of this goodness.

>>> Play soccer // Step one: get a soccer ball. I am dying to be outside in the evenings because the weather is amazing, and I really miss competitive team sports. Hopefully this can at least happen once.

>>> Try a new restaurant in Athens // Some friends and I have made a list of local places we must eat at before graduating, and it’s time to mark another one off. It’s so much more fun to pick a new place and order something I can’t make at home. Along with several others, a few that made our list are Heirloom, Home.Made, and Ted’s Most Best. Let me know if you’ve tried one of these or have another favorite Athens place we should try!

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(If I could only eat at one restaurant forever, it would most likely be Marti’s at Midday. You have my recommendation!)

>>> Go to a pumpkin patch // Obviously this has to be included. I’m making it a point to carve a pumpkin and roast some seeds because it just isn’t October without one.

>>> Bike the Silver Comet Trail and/or to Social Circle, GA // Silver Comet Trail goes from Smyrna, Georgia to the Alabama state line, and it’s around 61 miles long. Best part: no cars! Social Circle is around 40 miles from Athens, and you might know it as home of Blue Willow Inn (primary reason I want to go). Yes to fried chicken; yes to bike rides. Disclaimer: It’s highly probable that this will not happen in October, but if I write it down, I’ll remember it. Don’t hold me to it.

Cheers to a happy and active October! Hope you have a great one!

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What are some goals you have this month? I’d love ideas! 🙂

First Impressions from a First Time Yogi

Heyyoooo! I just went to my very first yoga class (this still counts for my summer bucket list, right?). Bikram Yoga in Athens was offering free classes all day this Sunday, so my bloggin friend Haley  and I decided to be brave and sign up for the 4:00 class with Natalie. Bikram Yoga is a form of hot yoga that lasts an hour and a half and progresses through 26 poses, both sitting and standing, as well as two breathing exercises. Here’s a little recap of my experience!

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Lezzzbehonest: spending an hour and a half in a 105 degree room looking like you just got out of a pool while stretching your body in weird, impossible ways is not an experience that most would use the word “fun” to describe, and I would probs agree with you. However, there are a few things that made this experience worthwhile and a yoga practice that I would consider doing again.

1.) The atmosphere of the studio. Wow! This place is beautiful! It has a very industrial but cozy feel, and the apparel and mats for sale were amazing (oh hey, lululemon). Not only were the aesthetics amazing, both the space and the staff were unbelievably kind and welcoming. As a first-timer, I was nervous about my level of flexibility and if I gave off the appropriate amount of “I look like I know what I’m doing when I really don’t” vibe, but I was so encouraged when the first words out of a staff member’s mouth were, “Sit down on your mat if you have to, and just have fun.”

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bikram 2 Photo courtesy of Bikram Yoga Athens Facebook

2.) No judgement; all freedom. Despite the varying experience levels, there was never a sense of superiority in the studio. If you’re like me, you want to go to the gym or a group fitness class kinda knowing what you’re doing because you don’t want to be the one at the back of the class with no clue what’s going on. Before going into Bikram Athens, I was pretty paranoid about this, but I quickly learned that yoga (or this particular class at least) was not in the least bit competitive. The purpose was solely to leave the room better than you were when you walked in. For some that meant with more flexibility, others with less stress, and even others with more focus.

3.) No time for mind wandering or worry. For me, this was quite possibly the best benefit. That was an hour and a half of my day that I had zero focus, time, or energy to put toward any other uncertainty or worry surrounding me. No chance to think about school, no chance to think about a schedule, no chance to think about the future. Free your mind; be in this moment only.

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Photo courtesy of Etsy

4.) The post yoga physical feeling (and especially the watermelon at the end of class). I’ll be completely candid and say that as I walked out of the building, the thought in my head was, “Never again in my life.” However, now I feel sooooo good. It’s hard to give specific feelings but definitely lighter, looser, more energized, and like I could take on the world. One hour later and heck yeah, let’s do it again!

I would highly recommend taking some sort of yoga class at least once. Next I want to try some sort of Vinyasa flow class just to see the vibes of a different practice!

What’s your favorite yoga or group fitness practice? I’d love to hear some new ideas and opinions!

Blast Off

Good morning beautiful people! On a scale of 0—Awesome, how dumb is that title? I’m going with awesome. I guess I’m breaking typical blog rules and posting on a Saturday, but hey, it’s always fun to be a little rebellious. Plus it’s just been too long since I’ve hung out over here. Here’s a countdown of some random things that have made unexpected appearances in my life lately. They’re all pretty cool though, so I’m not complaining!

Four foods/drinks I’ve been eating, craving, and loving:

1 // Wow green smoothies! I am pretty proud to include this on the list because it means I’m officially a smoothie person. Holla! I’ve made my fair share of berry smoothies with yogurt for a base, but I decided to get crazy and experiment with greens. Needless to say, it was a success because my mom even liked it. Here’s what I threw in: a huge handful of spinach, frozen mango, frozen banana, pineapple, and water. So good! (A tip for green smoothies: blend greens and water well before adding the fruit…just trust me.)

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2 // Chocolate pudding, where have you been all my life? My mom has gotten me on a pudding after dinner kick, and I’m not even mad about it. Here’s the great thing about pudding: it’s good but not too rich, you get to put Cool Whip on it (as if I need an excuse to eat Cool Whip), and it’s the perfect dessert because you don’t even really have to feel bad about it. Join the pudding club! You won’t regret it!

3 // Cottage cheese. I’m weird. I became a believer at the Jason’s Deli salad bar, and now I think everybody needs to love it. I like it plain, on a salad, or with coconut and dark chocolate chips mixed in. The protein benefits are pretty sweet too! Check out this graphic at Women’s Health to see where cottage cheese falls on the list of protein rich foods.

4 // Coffee all day everyday! I actually don’t drink it everyday, but I should. This hot weather has me especially loving iced coffee lately! Here’s a transformation Saturday for you: the first coffee I would ever drink was the tiny drop they put in Starbucks’ frappuccinos, and look at me now. Going for a plain iced coffee with skim milk and no sugar. Crazy how the times change; we grow up way too fast.

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Three places that I call “my places” in Bainbridge:

1 // The Bean. If college has taught me anything it’s that your house isn’t where you do productive things. You have to go to a coffee shop where people can see you listening to hip music and doing your thing (that’s not why I go at all though). Whether it’s sitting outside with friends or getting studying done, The Bean is the perfect atmosphere for anything. Comfy and quaint!

bean photo creds to Chelsea Kornse

2 // The Square. All I have to do is go downtown, spread out my quilt, and I’m loving life. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older but downtown Bainbridge is becoming such a special place to me. From the thick green grass to the brick street to the “smile and speak to everybody” vibe, it’s just beautiful. **Sorry, I should’ve warned you to grab a tissue for that one!

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courthousephoto creds to Chelsea Kornse

3 // My house. This is not a joke at all! It is so sweet to have a summer at home with my fam. Though taking classes is not the most exciting way to spend the summer, it has been one of the best decisions for so many reasons. I’m pursuing my passion for nutrition, getting to grow my relationships with my family, and cherishing my town in a way I never have before. I foresee many memories being made here over the next two months.

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Two exercises that have been my go to lately:

1 // Biking like it’s my job. I ride my bike basically every single day, no lie. It’s such a fun exercise, and everything looks better on/from a bike. I’ve been able to ride all over town, and luckily I haven’t gotten completely sketched out yet. If you’ve been feeling out of the whole exercise thing lately, pull your bike out of the depths of your garage or borrow a friend’s and go ride for a while. It’s cathartic. Btw, the train trestle at sunset has to be one of the most picturesque views around.

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2 // Lifting weights! I’ve read, you’ve read, we’ve all read forever that we girls need to lift heavy weight because it boosts metabolism, tones muscles, and is so great for bone health. I kinda avoided the weight part of the gym and stuck with cardio until the beginning of the summer, but now I love weights. I think one of the greatest things about them is that you can see results so quickly, and I can already tell how much stronger I’ve gotten since I can grab heavier weights now. (Sorry I don’t have any pics for this. I’ll have to get Cole, my brother, to teach me about gym selfies. 😉 No shame in his game.)

One lesson I’ve learned over the past few months:

1 // Take a risk. Step out of your comfort zone. You never know what will happen, but it’s guaranteed to be a memory. Just make sure to check for rocks before you jump!

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Hope y’all have a fun, chill, relaxing, or exciting weekend–whatever you’re needing! Let me know, what are you loving or learning lately?

Summer Bucket List

Before I say peace out for an exciting weekend filled with studying for finance (hopefully it won’t get too crazy), I thought I’d swing by to leave you with a few fun things to check out over your weekend.

This is my motivation to get through the next few weeks of the semester, and because of this whole “new major” decision, I’ll be taking some super fun science classes over the summer. Needless to say, I’ll be making plenty of time to check these things off. Here’s my 2014 Summer Bucket List! Enjoy!

  • Discover a new band
  • Kayak trip
  • Outdoor music festival
  • Make a cool flea market purchase
  • Host brunch with all of my favorite breakfast foods (um everything)
  • Go to a yoga class
  • Jeni’s ice cream
  • Road trip on the megabus
  • Have a cookout with kabobs
  • Take pictures with a flower crown
  • Buy a classic record
  • Send a handwritten letter once a week
  • Buy fresh produce from the farmer’s market
  • Be an encouragement to someone I don’t see often
  • Afternoon tea (preferably in a garden)
  • Camping trip at the beach
  • Finish two books, a classic novel and one that challenges and grows my faith
  • Become a hippie

Shoutout to Chelsea over at http://chelseakornsephotography.squarespace.com/ for helping me make this list and for being willing to spend the summer adventuring! Check out her site!

What’s your favorite summer activity? Have you made a summer bucket list? If so, what’s on it? I would love to add to mine, so let me hear from you!

Gr-Gr-Granola

When I got home from class and a meeting with one of the founders of Lukas’ Fund (more on that in a future post), I was cravingggg granola with blueberries and Greek yogurt (Fage Fruyo is my new fav), so I went for it. Because my pantry is looking pretty bare right now, I got to googling to try to find some inspiration that included a few of the things I have. I found this one over at Table for Two, and I used it as a guide for my own.

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2 cups of Old Fashioned Oats

Approximately 4 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter

Approximately 2 tablespoons honey

A few shakes of ground cinnamon

A splash of vanilla extract

A few drops of olive oil

(Needless to say, I kinda just threw some things together with little measurement.)

Preheat the oven to 325. Melt peanut butter and honey together before adding vanilla and cinammon. Combine oats with peanut butter mixture, and spread evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes then stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

I’m still pretty sore from the race Saturday. Those hills did me in, but it’s been too pretty to stay inside. Here’s a cool shot from my sunny bike ride yesterday!

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What’s your favorite granola recipe or store bought brand? Mmmm. I’ve been loving it lately!