Crispy Chocolate Coconut No Bake Energy Bars and This Week's Eats 3.30.14

After making those Shutterbean energy bars (that freeze so nicely), I got on a bit of an energy bar kick in the last couple of weeks.  I've experimented with a lot of different recipes, combining them and making substitutions.  My favorites always start with dates, and must include chocolate, almonds and coconut.  I've come up with a winner that hopefully you'll enjoy, too:

Crispy Chocolate Coconut No Bake Energy Bars

  • 1/2 Cup Almond Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 8 Medjool Dates (pitted)
  • 1/2 Cup Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup of Crispy Rice Cereal (like Rice Krispies, I stole some of my kids Nature's Path Chocolate Koala Crisp for extra chocolatey goodness)
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons (divided) Shredded Sweetened Coconut
  • 2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1/3 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
Set aside the 2 tablespoons of coconut and chocolate chips, then combine all remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Chop until it forms a thick dough and all of the dates are well incorporated, about five minutes.  (If your dates are really dry, soak them in some warm water for a few minutes and drain before using.)  Add in chocolate chips and give dough a few quick pulses, just to incorporate.  Press dough evenly into an 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper or coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of coconut evenly over the top and press into the dough.  Freeze about 2 hours or until set.  Cut into whatever size bar you like.  

For a snack size, you can cut into 16 squares.  I like to eat them for breakfast, so I make 8 bars and put them back into the freezer in between pieces of parchment.  When I'm ready to eat one, I just take a bar out and let it thaw for a few minutes on the counter - yep, just a couple of minutes and they're good to go straight from the freezer!

This week's eats:

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


A Few of My Favorite Things (And March Julep Review)

I just realized it's been awhile since I talked about my latest favorite things when I posted this picture, as part of the Zooma photo a day challenge, on Instagram.

So many of my favorite things in here!  I only recently caved on an Erin Condren planner.  They had a pretty good sale going in February, and I took the plunge.  I really do love it; it's so nice to have a big layout for the monthly calendar and there are ridiculously cute stickers you can paste inside for things like: Date Night, Vegas! (I wish), Girl's Night Out, No School, as well as the more often used Birthday, Anniversary stickers.  The spiral binding could be a bit smaller and it could have WAY less journal pages for the way I use it.  Still, it's just such a happy little thing to have to look at every day.  No, I will not start using my iPhone as a planner, you can't make me.

This month's Julep box was another hit.  I went for the 'Bombshell' box.  I now keep this gloss (I chose 'Fearless') in my purse at all times: LOVE.  It's just the right consistency, stays on, and has a super yummy vanilla scent.  I love the yellow 'Lilou' polish, but think it needs to wait a bit for summer when my skin isn't so ghostly white.  The blue 'Monaco' color is now my absolute favorite blue.  Yes, they put a piece of candy in there too - it was pretty tasty.

I've been poring over this cookbook and I'm rather excited to try some of the recipes!


We've been watching the CNN original series Chicagoland, partly in horror and partly with pride.  Either way, it's a fantastic show.  There are definitely echoes of This American Life's piece on Harper High, which is an absolute must listen.  Incidentally, my Facebook feed has blown up lately with Chicago trivia.  To name a few: 22 Words That Have A Completely Different Meaning in Chicago (although, The Second City means comedy, not NYC), and 50 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Chicago (Interesting stuff if you're not from Chicago, but I must admit, I didn't know we had the longest continuous street.)

I'm adding two new favorite songs to the playlist, Red Lights by Tiesto (ah, good old Tiesto) and Alone by Armin van Buuren featuring Lauren Williams.  Happy listening and happy weekend!

"Red Lights"



Time to Revisit 13.1 (and a Discount Code for the Snohomish Women's Run)

Well, I definitely have one of the items crossed off my March goals list!  I received an opportunity to participate in the inaugural Snohomish Women's Run on Sunday, May 18th and the timing couldn't have been better.  I've come to the point in my mileage buildup where I can pretty comfortably (albeit sloooowly) do 7-8 miles for my long run of the week and have what would be about 6-8 weeks left to prepare for a half if I continue on my current training.  I thought about the Kirland Half Marathon on Mother's Day, but I didn't relish the idea of returning to 13.1 after a year hiatus on such a killer course.  (Plus I'd really rather sleep in and go for a run later in the day on Mother's Day - just keepin' it real.)  The course for the Snohomish run has an elevation gain of 115 feet - this I can get behind.  It's the same route as the Snohomish River Run, also a great event.

running the inaugural Snohomish River Run 10K

What else is great?  It's limited to 500 participants, no crowding.  And there is a 10K option as well, which I think is always appreciated when you don't feel up for a half marathon but want a bit more of a challenge than a 5K.  If you register by April 25th, you get a personalized bib and all finishers (10K AND half) get this lovely medal:

There's also prize money for the top overall three women and even for the last finisher of each distance!  And check out these cute tees which we've been promised will be suuuper SOFT:

The charity partner is The Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, which is a private, non-profit organization serving Snohomish County since 1976. They are the only program in Snohomish County providing emergency shelter and comprehensive, confidential services to victims of domestic abuse without regard to age, gender, race, religion, culture, national origin, sexual orientation or income level. DVS provides individual and community awareness programs which can affect the social change necessary to eliminate domestic violence throughout Snohomish County.  Go here if you'd like to make a donation.

Now that you know the details, get 10% off your registration with code: MRSHALLBERG2014 and come on out and run (my first half in over a year) with me!

Disclosure: I was offered an entry to the race in exchange for getting the word out; although it is sponsored, all opinions are my own.


This Weeks Eats 3.23.14

My husband and I were pleasantly surprised to find out our favorite babysitter was home for spring break this week!  We promptly took advantage of a last minute night out on Saturday.  I hemmed and hawed, scanning many a Yelp review, trying to decide on a new restaurant to try.  In the end, I just decided that all I really wanted was foofy martinis and some bang-bang shrimp (to die for appetizer) from Bonefish Grill.  It'd been years since we'd gone there, so we bagged the idea of something new in lieu of something we know we'll enjoy.  I think I'm becoming a curmudgeon in my advancing age.  The handful of times I've steered us outside of what we know and love over the last couple of years, the end result was always 'meh.'  I'll probably try to hold us accountable for trying at least one new restaurant a year; beyond that, we'll stick with the happiness of a fantastic and familiar meal!  Mmmmm, like our favorite salad, which I'm making this week...

At least I make at least two new meals a month at home, right?  

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Blog and Oiselle Team Anniversary (Plus a Code for 10% Off and Free Shipping at Oiselle!)

Wow.  Two years.  Yet another year has flown by on my little corner of the internet.  I think that my post from one year ago still pretty much sums up my feelings about blogging.  I still enjoy it immensely.  I've delved a bit more into my other interests like cooking, reading, and talking about motherhood.  But the connections I make (with runners, or home cooks, or bookworms, or moms) remain the same.  And the blogiversary always coincides with my Oiselle anniversary: it was just two years ago that I got the email from Kristin inviting me to join the team.  And I am grateful, so grateful, for another wonderful year.  I don't have many more words, so I'll just take a look back with a few pictures...

Getting to know Lauren Fleshman the week of her baby shower!

Ahhh, huge Euge!

RAGNAR was so amazing. Can't wait to do it again!

Blogging (and Hot Chocolate) pretty much made this Chicago trip and team meetup a reality.  Amazing.

As well as making it possible to cap off the year running in, and visiting my dearest friends in, the city of my heart.

OK, if you've made it this far, thank you for indulging me in this little walk down memory lane.  And now for the GOODS: this year, in honor of the blog and Oiselle team anniversary, I've got a special discount code to share with y'all for 10% off AND free shipping (no minimum order) at Oiselle.com!  Just enter ANNIVERSARY at checkout.  This code is good Friday, March 21st through midnight PST on Sunday, March 23rd. I myself am eyeballing the new vertical drop tank or the very popular cross top mesh tank; maybe I'll just buy myself a little anniversary present.  Really, the possibilities are endless...

Happy shopping!


This Weeks Eats 4.16.14 and an Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Even though my husband and I both are of Irish descent, we really don't do much to celebrate the holiday.  But, we do have a soft spot for Irish Soda bread.  My husband's grandmother used to make it and I've experimented with a few recipes over the years.  Mostly trying to find ones that don't require a boatload of butter to taste great.  I adapted this Ina Garten recipe with half whole wheat flour yielding pretty tasty results - I also added a little dusting of sugar over the top before baking.

I forgot to report back from Mountain Mama Cook's Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Tacos - these were REALLY good.  Especially with the blue cheese slaw!  In fact, I think I need an excuse to make the slaw this week...
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


March Forth 5K Race Recap

I was rather bummed that scheduling conflicts kept me from running my beloved local Hot Chocolate race.  I hope everyone who ran it had a great time and enjoyed the post race fondue.  Mmmm...  I digress.  Even though I wasn't free on that Sunday morning, I still wanted to do a race, and I decided to join a couple of teammates for a local 5K on Saturday instead: the March Forth Fun Run.  For me, this was the shortest amount of time between signing up for a race and then running it; I registered less than a week beforehand.  It was rather liberating not bringing weeks of anticipation and expectations to the start line.  Plus, I was very much on board with the charity supported by March Forth: all proceeds from the run go to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This year they raised over $10,000!  

It's a Green Lake race, so you pretty much run a loop around the lake.  I love these races, though, because they're never at some crazy early hour, probably because street closures aren't necessary.  This race started at 9:30AM.  I also like Green Lake because it's pretty easy to park anywhere around the lake.  You're never more than a mile or two from the start and those miles can be used as a warmup or cooldown.  I met up with my teammate Lauren and we drove over, parked about three blocks from the start and joined our other teammate Portia for a nice and easy warmup mile.  

Lauren, Portia and me (FREE race photos FTW!)

The weather held up perfectly; it was a bit on the chilly side in the low 40s, but after our warmup, I felt great in knickers and my lux long sleeve under my singlet.  As we waited to start, we were treated to the musical stylings of the Sounders FC Marching Band.  I love marching bands.  They make me feel nostalgic for high school and college football games and automatically put me in a pumped up mood.  

As advertised, they started right on time and we were off at 9:30 on the dot.  There wasn't anything set up to corral the runners as the start, as the timing mats were on a little grassy hill and not a path or road.  People kept filing in from the sides and it was a bit crazy for the first half mile or so.  According to Lauren, who was actually running behind me (because she's coming back from an injury), I was a dodging peeps like a pro.  Apparently this is true because, as usual, my first mile was my fastest at 8:30.  Aaaand, as per my usual, I felt sort of like death warmed over in mile two - as evidenced by my 9 minute mile pace.  I even slowed to grab a Nuun at the one water stop because, hey Nuun!!  YES.  I got a nice side five from teammate Jen who was in town visiting and that gave me a bit of a boost.  And since I am a rather predictable person, I perked up a bit in the last mile, especially when yet another teammate appeared on the course.  Sarah ran up alongside me and all I could do at two and a half miles into a 5K was give a little wave, a big smile and kinda shake my head "no" as in "no, I cannot talk to you right now!"  She ran ahead and I was thinking, is she trying to pace me?  Urgh, maybe I should try and chase her a little.  As it turns out, she was running ahead to turn and take a picture of me, but I think I caught up to that speedy girl a bit!  Either way, I can thank her for bringing me back under a 9 minute pace with my final mile clocking in at just about 8:45.  

heading toward the finish - more free race photos!

Final time was 26:44 and I didn't meet my sort of last minute goal of beating my Mustache Dache time.  I'm blaming that on giving in to the temptation of that tasty Nuun on course.  But, I felt really good about my effort and the fact that I didn't have any hamstring pain this time around.  Yay!  

Lauren, Jen, Portia, Sarah and Me

In addition to bottled water, there was plenty of goodies at the finish (bagels, chips, chocolate milk, bananas, etc.) and Walgreens was handing out little first aid kits, which I love getting at races to stash in my purse.  Kids go through a lot of band-aids, yo.  And the race shirts are soooooo cozy. 

 Apparently they are tech fabric, 100% poly, but they feel like buttah.  The shirts didn't make it to Seattle in time for packet pickup, or race day, because of snow in Chicago (yes, my family and friends back home are REALLY done with winter).  So they sent out an email a few days after the race when shirts were ready for pickup and even sent some over to Everyday Athlete in Kirkland for those of us on the Eastside to get our shirts.  That was really appreciated.  (As are FREE PHOTOS!)  

I just love these smaller races and hope that I can run this one next year, depending upon what the 2015 Hot Chocolate season brings and where it might fit in with the Lake Sammamish Half.  I really would love to do that one again and it's usually in early March...  Anyway, if you have the opportunity to, definitely sign up for this race!  


My Favorite Freezer Meals and This Weeks Eats 3.9.14

I whipped up these Chocolate Chip Cookie Energy Bars this week and they were so easy and SO tasty.  I am automatically drawn to any recipe that includes the directive to throw 'em in the freezer and pop 'em out whenever you want.  I try to do this with as many meals as possible, especially those that are kind of a pain to make.  

Makin' the Mac and Cheese requires at least two burners going and the Cuisinart, which is always a pain to clean...

Some favorite recipes to freeze:

Pioneer Woman's 'Fancy' Mac and Cheese (This recipe yields a LOT, so I just pour half into a container to freeze and the rest into a pan to bake.)

Baked Ziti (The same goes for this recipe - it yields a lot, but you can always double it and freeze half.)

Any enchilada recipe: Avocado Enchiladas, Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas, etc. (I'll usually double the recipe and just freeze the rolled up tortilla portion and either freeze the sauce separately, or buy sauce - the Frontera sauces are fantastic.)

Most soups and stews: Italian Beef Stew, Chipotle Chicken Chowder and definitely Minestrone - just thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

Meatballs: The recipe for Greek Meatball Salad makes so many meatballs, I always freeze half after I bake them.  Same goes for Thai Meatballs, or straight up Italian Meatballs for spaghetti.

Sauces and marinades: whenever I make pesto, I double and freeze half, as well as my favorite satay marinade.

And pretty much any baked goods: My Whole Wheat Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Muffins and Hummingbird Muffins almost always go directly into the freezer; I just pop 'em out and throw 'em in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Same goes for pre-sliced banana bread, Banana Walnut Pancakes, and Cranberry Orange Bread.

This weeks eats definitely includes some freezer meal action:
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Books I Read in February 2014


The Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes

This novel isn't on the same level as Me Before You - nevertheless, it's a fast and enjoyable read. A sort of a formulaic amnesia romance storyline is mashed up with a Titanic vibe. I kept waiting for the romantic male lead to yell: They've got you trapped Rose! Even though her name is Jennifer and the bulk of the story is set in the 1960s, rather than 1912. But hey, who doesn't love Titanic? Especially since this one has a happier ending.


Longbourn by Jo Baker

It took me a little while to get into this book. I'm admittedly not an Austen fanatic, so that could have something to do with it; I had to really think to remember the details of Pride and Prejudice to get the most from this book, as the main characters are the servants of the Bennett family. Once it took off for me, though, I couldn't put it down. It's just a lovely romance, with lots of great soap opera-like twists and turns, while being written with subtlety and grace.


Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

It's been awhile since I've read a coming of age novel and I wanted to catch up on some Printz award winners.  Where Things Come Back is a gritty, hypnotic read with two seemingly unrelated narratives that come together in a rather shocking way.  I was sucked in, and really loved that the book is told from each character's perspective; my favorite being the central character Cullen Witter, who uses the term 'ass-hat' in such an endearing way almost every other sentence.


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This book was just delightful!  I loved how it read like a romantic comedy.  Funny enough, after reading the Q&A at the end with Graeme Simsion, this story started out as a screenplay.  Although, the most captivating aspect of it is listening to the inner dialogue of our protagonist with aspergers and I can't imagine how that would translate to the screen...  Don, our unlikely hero, is trying to find a wife in a very organized, pragmatic fashion and ends up falling in love with someone that defies all of his logic.  It's hilarious, endearing and enlightening.

Linking up with The Modern Mrs. Darcy's awesome 'Twitterature' book posts roundup!


March Goals and February Check In

February Check In:
Start following a 13.1 plan to start increasing mileage/get ready for the Hot Chocolate 15K 

Alas, I had some scheduling conflicts come up and wasn't able to run Hot Chocolate this year.  But I really wanted to race, so I did a 5K on Saturday instead (will recap soon!) and this actually fit better into the plan!  So, operation mileage increase is going along nicely.  Now I should maybe pick a half to run in the Spring...

Get things for the kids Valentines in a timely manner (no scrambling at the last minute this year!!) and work on them a little bit each day.  

Yay, I'm so glad this goal is over and done with.  We did the valentines on a Saturday and the party wasn't until Wednesday, so I'd say this was done in a very timely manner.  Plus I got to volunteer at my son's school for the party, which was awesome.

Drink more water; at least 72oz a day.  

So, yeah, this one's a do-over.  I need to work on this again!  I get through 48oz easily by mid afternoon and then I pretty much stop drinking fluid altogether.  Maybe because my thirst from morning exercise is gone?  
Get up early on Thursdays to do an extra cross training workout.  

Well, I did the one extra workout per week; but with mid-winter break at school, all the vet appointments with the dog, sick kids, etc. I only got up early once to fit it in, and mostly did them on the weekend, or while my littlest was at school.  But I'm still counting that goal met and will continue to get it in early when I can.
Schedule time with the tax man. 

Scheduled and done!  Always a nice time of year; in related news, we got a new mattress and I never want to get out of bed.  Never, ever.

Goals for March 

  • Drink that 72oz of water a day!
  • Start going to yoga.  I got another Groupon, but I will not let it languish like I did the last time I bought one.  I have a buddy that goes to this studio so I have an incentive!
  • Figure out Spotify.  Pandora is starting to annoy me a bit and I hear Spotify is all the rage - I shall report back...
  • Get back to monthly photo posts.  I was about to do a February one and realized that I never did January!  These are posts/collages I really enjoy having and organizing them helps me keep our photos organized in general.
  • Pick a half marathon to work towards, eeeep!


This Weeks Eats 3.2.14 and My Perspective on Food

Thanks so much for all the supportive messages, tweets, comments, etc. last week.  We're all doing much better around here, it's good to be able to move on and not see our little pup suffering.  However it's very obvious how much of the dog routines are ingrained into the minutiae of our lives.  I started to say 'bye, Peeps, be a good boy' as I left the house the other day and I constantly look outside to check on him when he's clearly not in the backyard.  I've had a great weekend of simple pleasures/distractions with a great race on Saturday, followed by brunch with running buddies; which is pretty much the best thing to do on a weekend morning.  And, of course, the best thing to do on a Saturday night is have a nice dinner with my husband and watch a new movie - especially one with Chris Hemsworth in it.  Mmmmm, hmmm. 

Speaking of simple pleasures, I think it's pretty obvious that I find food and cooking one of life's greatest.  Everyone should go and check out my teammate Danielle's recent post on Keepin' It Real, as it got me thinking about addressing the way I do my thing in this little corner of the internet, especially with my recipes and This Weeks Eats.  I am obviously not a skinny person, never plan to be, and don't really care as long as I feel good, fit into my favorite clothes and my doctor is happy.  I love to eat and don't think cutting out any one thing exclusively will ever be for me.  Yes, I even eat at McDonald's on occasion!  Mmmmm, yummmy chemicals!  Hopefully it won't kill me dead eating there, oh, three or four times a year.  My menus are most likely considered utterly gluttonous to many in the healthy-living, running, etc. community, of which I am a small part.  To me, cooking alongside my husband (things involving lots of cheese! or kale, which I actually like! but also carbs and gluten! yes, sometimes brown rice, too! but, then, more cheese! basically, all the things!) is what makes life worth living, and is not mutually exclusive with running.  

Mmmm, last Saturday's dinner of Baked Ziti, full of enemy #1 and #2! Gluten! Dairy!
So, I apologize if I occasionally have a recipe that includes a can of Campbells cream of mushroom soup, not made from scratch - eeep!  Or, I promise to include them, in moderation, depending upon your point of view.  OK, moving on...
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!