Archives for December 2013

Apple Tart (Gluten-Free)

Merry Christmas everyone! As I was about to bake this apple tart for Christmas evening, I realized it didn’t transfer over to my WordPress.org site, from WordPress.com! So, here it is again, from August. 😉

Now, time to get my bake on – it should be extra easy now that I have my awesome Wonder Woman apron from Mr. Zucchini Runner. 😀

1488225_10103236536202401_102927356_n

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Let me start off by saying this post is very, VERY overdue! Back at the end of May, Mr. Zucchini Runner and I were up in Northern Arizona with some family, playing cards, watching softball and enjoying walks and runs around this beautiful lake.

img_1281

During one of many conversations, my sister-in-law told the story of a magical fruit tree that was producing glorious Arizona apples in her brother’s yard. This tree was producing so many apples, they didn’t know what to do with them! UM, YES PLEASE! She knew I would love some for my homemade applesauce and of course, I wanted to experiment making some other delicious treats as well. A couple weeks later I left there with PLENTY of apples to bake with!

img_1685

Originally I wanted to make a cobbler of some sort, but then opted for something a little more fancy. I adapted this recipe from Vegan Dad, by making it gluten-free and changing some other minor ingredients. It turned out incredible! We ate 2 slices each the night I baked it. Whoops.

The instructions below may appear long and involved, but it’s really not that bad actually. Especially since it is gluten free. Saves on chilling and rolling the dough. 😉 A nice little perk.

Tart Crust
1 1/4 cups GF All Purpose Baking Flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup Spectrum Shortening
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp cold water
2-3 tbsp cold almond milk

Preheat oven to 350°F

Have your 8″ tart pan ready and waiting before you get started. Combine the ground flax seed, water and almond milk in a small dish and set aside. In a large bowl combine the flour and coconut sugar. Spoon in the shortening by the tablespoon and space it out as you plop each blob into the mix. Wash your hands thoroughly. Using your hands, carefully toss the shortening blobs with the mixture until coated, don’t smash the blobs just yet. 😉 Pour the flax mixture over the flour, sugar, shortening mixture. Using your hands again, start mashing it all together. Once it feels 80% incorporated, you can start pressing it into the tart pan. The less you handle the mixture the easier it will be to work with, so be sure not to overwork it. As you are pressing it into the tart pan, try to get it as even as possible and make sure you don’t forget to push it all the way up the sides! 🙂

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, uncovered. You want the crust to be slightly darker and starting to firm up. Cool on counter while you prepare the tart filling.

Tart Filling
2 lbs cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks (I have no idea what kind they were, just golden and magical)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp margarine, melted

2 cooking apples, peeled cored, and thinly sliced
1 tbsp margarine, melted
1/4 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 375°F

In a large bowl combine the 2 lbs of apple chunks, cinnamon, lemon and margarine and toss to thoroughly coat. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven until you can spear a chunk easily with a fork, approximately 20-30 minutes depending on your apples. Once soft, remove and place back into the large mixing bowl. Using a fork, smash the apples to a mushy – yet incredibly delicious – tart filling. Spoon into cooled and cooked tart shell.

Now for the really fun part! Decorate the top of your tart however you would like with your thinly sliced apples! When your pattern is complete (be sure each slice overlaps), bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until heated through.

Once the tart is removed from the oven, use a combo of melted margarine and applesauce to glaze the apples. (I used a rubber pastry brush similar to this one.) You can even sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon too!

Let cool at least 30 minutes (if you can wait that long) before removing tart pan* and slicing. Enjoy and have fun!

*An easy way to remove the ring portion of the pan is to place the whole pie on top of a can of beans (or something) and let the ring fall down on its own. (See slideshow picture.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

T25 Review

I have put this post off for FAR too long. It’s for a good reason though. I don’t have a whole lot to report on this fitness program — at least not at first glance. I’ve had a mental block about what to say and struggled with showing you successful before and after photos. But the success that I received from this program can’t be measured in a before and after photo – and that’s ok. It took me a while to accept that.

Aug_19th

Day 1 – August 19th

My goal when doing T25 was to have a workout that would compliment my running – as you can tell by the name of my blog – I am first and foremost a runner.

Running is my passion.

However, I know that it is important to incorporate cross training to my daily routine, in order to become a better runner and avoid injury… but knowing that and DOING that are two VERY. DIFFERENT. THINGS.

You name the excuse, I’ve made it. The number one excuse I ALWAYS had however?

TIME.

Not enough time. How am I supposed to spend more time working out than I already do?! Running is so important to me, so by default it gets done first and easily most days. Anything else I consider a bonus workout. When I started seeing FOCUS T25 advertised like crazy all over social media, I was STOKED! 25 minutes a day, five days a week. BOOM. Sign me up!

I had always been intrigued by Shaun T’s Insanity workout, but was not willing to do something that crazy and risk GETTING an injury at the expense of my running!

sweaty_legs

After our first T25 workout. Clearly got a sweat on.

Mr. Zucchini Runner and I are pretty loyal Tony Horton fans because of the changes we experienced with P90X. For me especially, Tony is the first at-home fitness pro that I could tolerate regularly. So adjusting to Shaun T’s style was… well… an adjustment. I had to keep telling Mr. Zucchini Runner, “We didn’t like all of Tony’s corny jokes in the beginning either! Shaun will grow on us…”

And he did… slowly…

The first workout left us both thinking – wow – this is a lot harder than I thought! But, at the same time, we were able to handle it and do every move. (We couldn’t say the same for most of the P90X workouts on the first go around…)

Day 2 was almost… easy… which was great because I needed something easy, since I run Wednesday’s. (We started on Monday, so our workouts were Mon-Fri; I typically run M, W and Sat. Hard Tuesday workout + sore muscles for Wednesday’s run = not a happy Zucchini Runner.)

Then day 3 workout hit – after my run. Holy mother. Total Body Circuit was/is a KILLER workout. We were both modifying, for sure! Thank goodness for Tania, the modifier, in the video! It still stands as the toughest T25 workout in my book – including the Beta series.

after_first_TBC

In a nutshell, Mr. ZR and I both noticed after 3-4 weeks that our legs were growing and becoming more defined. PERFECT! This was exactly what I wanted.

STRENGTH.

He was jumping higher and with less effort in volleyball games and I was running faster and had greater endurance in the summer heat.

The Details
There are two segments to T25 that come with your base package: Alpha and Beta (Gamma is ordered separate, and we didn’t go that route). Each segment is only 5 weeks long – so 5 weeks of Alpha and 5 weeks of Beta was perfect to get me through summer running!

The downside: Both Mr. ZR and I started to notice that our ankles and knees were getting achy after about week 4. There is a LOT of jumping… a LOT. So, being a big proponent of listening to my body – we both took a week off in between Alpha and Beta to let everything heal up. Best decision ever. We started Beta and were able to hit the ground running. We noticed a huge difference – the break totally helped. If you do T25, I would suggest the same thing.

IMG_7431

My last T25 workout before my half marathon

Now this is where things started to get a little fuzzy. Temps in AZ were starting to cool off, I was starting to pick up my mileage, and prepare for a half marathon, where my goal was a hefty PR. Mr. Zucchini Runner had a major volleyball tournament he needed to rest up for… and therefore we both had less commitment to T25. However, I surpassed my hefty PR and got 3rd place in my division, and he and his team won the tournament in their division. Not too bad!! 😉

me_whm_3rddanny_rocky_point_win

We stuck with Beta for a solid 2 weeks before it became sporadic.

Sept 29, our fresh calendar with all the beta workouts.

Sept 29, our fresh calendar with all the beta workouts.

With both of our passions calling to us, it was difficult to stay engaged with the T25 workouts. Additionally, dare I say it, we were both getting a little bored. Sorry, but I’m being honest. We both expected something more in Beta, more weights maybe? Different moves? Instead, it was more of the same moves we learned in Alpha, just combined together in different sequences. I really wish we could have stuck to it for the entire 10 week period, but I would be lying if I said we did. We gave it a solid, 7 week effort and then I averaged about 2-3 solo workouts a week, versus our previous 5-6. Oh yes, on Fridays you have the option to do two workouts, or double-days as they call it. Sunday there is also a 25 minute stretch DVD, which is really nice if you are feeling stiff and sore.

week_1

In our first week, getting ab intervals done!

In conclusion, I did really appreciate the workouts in T25 and Shaun T’s motivation did grow on me. His ability to know when your quads are burning and that you’re about to give up, is perfectly timed on the video and it’s like he’s there in person, saying “You’ve got this!” And just like moments in P90X when we’d yell at Tony, we’d yell at Shaun T too. I just wish there was more variety – seems odd from someone who can run for hours, I know. But like I said, cross training is difficult for me so I need something that will keep me engaged the whole time. Having said that, we are both EXTREMELY EXCITED for the release of P90X3 today! Good old Tony Horton will soon be back in our workout room, telling us NEW corny jokes, but this time, for only 30 minutes a day. MY DREAM COME TRUE! It has all the variety of P90X, but in half the time… which means get in, get done, get on with it. STOKED!

lawn_sprinklers

Getting an outside workout in after a run this summer, with the sprinklers on, so refreshing!

If you are a runner, I do think T25 is a good addition to your running regimen. I could definitely tell my running improved – the good news is – that improvement has stuck! I know I’ve lost some of that fitness and strength I gained during the program, but I’m still running personal bests!

Sept. 19, after Alpha phase

Sept. 19, after Alpha phase – before Beta phase

Maybe once we get going on P90X3, I will finally get my full 6 pack abs! 🙂 If you want to join Mr. Zucchini Runner and I on our P90X3 journey, you can purchase it through my website starting December 10th. If you don’t find the program right away, check back again towards the end of the day!

IMG_7808

Nov. 19th – final photo


GET IT DONE: IN 25 MINUTES A DAY!