Thursday, December 30, 2010

Anatomy of a Training Run

Anatomy of a Training Run: the Run/Walk Run

One "different" type of run that I'm following in my marathon training is the Run/Walk run. At a very basic level, it's just interval training: run for an allotted amount of time, walk for an allotted amount of time. 

I scoffed when I first read about run/walk training, thinking, "doesn't that defeat the purpose? I'm a runner for pete's sake!" Walking was the enemy in my training runs. It made me feel like less of a runner...lower on the B.A. scale. Well you know what? I was a runner, but one that was all too often plagued by injury. I'll be the first to admit, thinking that way was just plain stupid.

First, let's walk through some of the benefits:

  • decreased chance of injury
  • the mental benefit of breaking longer runs up into segments
  • interval training often equals maximum results (be it a time goal, distance goal, etc.) many people have even PR'ed by following a run/walk training plan
  • if you're trying to lose weight, intervals actually burn more calories and fat
According to Runner's World, Jeff Galloway pioneered the idea of taking frequent walk breaks during marathons and marathon training and it has been used successfully by thousands of marathon runners. So how does it work? ...and more importantly, why?

"By using muscles in different ways from the beginning, your legs keep their bounce as they conserve resources. When a muscle group, such as your calf, is used continuously step by step, it fatigues relatively soon. The weak areas get overused and force you to slow down later or scream at you in pain afterward. By shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles, you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles, increasing your overall performance capacity. For veteran marathoners, this is often the difference between achieving a time goal or not. Walk breaks will significantly speed up recovery because there is less damage to repair. The early walk breaks erase fatigue, and the later walk breaks will reduce or eliminate overuse muscle breakdown." (source)

There are a lot of different ways to utilize run/walk training. I generally follow a 4 to 1 ratio (in minutes) of running to walking, but my marathon training will be structured as follows:

Weeks 1-4: run/walk ratio of 3:2 on some weekday runs and long runs
Weeks 5-9: run/walk ratio of 4:2 on some weekday and long runs 
Weeks 10-18: run/walk ratio of 4:1 on some weekday and long runs

You can also structure your run/walk training based on your pace:

8 min/mi—run 4 min/walk 35 seconds
9 min/mi— 4 min run-1 min walk
10 min/mi—-3:1
11 min/mi—2:30-1
12 min/mi—-2:1
13 min/mi—-1:1
14 min/mi—30 sec run/30 sec walk
15 min/mi—30 sec/45 sec
16 min/mi—30 sec/60 sec


You don't have to follow such a regimented run/walk plan either, if spontaneity is your style. Just take walk breaks early and often. I tend to like the 4:1 run to walk ratio because it breaks those longer runs up into 5 minute segments and sometimes makes it much more bearable. But you don't need to run every single one of your training runs this way. As my own general rule, anything less than 3 miles is pretty much a run all the way run. Between 3 and 6 miles is always questionable...sometimes I like to walk a bit, sometimes run. 6+ miles is where I almost always utilize my walk breaks. If I'm feeling extra good about my run for the day, I'll just take a 1 minute break for every mile I run. It's all up to you and your body, the only advice I can give you is to listen to it! 

If you're stuck on determining your pace, but still want to use this type of training, you'll be happy to know that you generally only lose 15-20 seconds when you take a 60 second walk break. Over the course of 26 miles, this could end up being negligible or even add to your overall time, because you'll be less fatigued and able to put in more effort in those last few miles. Fortunately, Runner's World has a nice little chart to give us all a little bit more pacing information:

If you run a mile in... (Col. A) and then walk 60 seconds, your overall pace will be...(Col. B)

Will you use run/walk training in your next training plan? What other training techniques do you employ in order to stay injury free?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a defining moment

29 December 2010: Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. 

This one's easy. Dave Matthew's Concert @ Blossom. June 25th, 2010.

Here's where I was in my life: content, but stagnating. Bored.

A friend from college, and Dave Matthews enthusiast, had been trying to get me to go to a DMB show for years. Since I've moved to Ohio, he has come to Blossom every single year (although, apparently he's done touring so that won't be happening in 2011) and John (DMB enthusiast, college friend) has texted (is that even a word?) me every single year telling me to get my butt to the show. He called me right before we left to tell me how excited he was and closed our conversation with, "don't forget to hippie dance for me!" Don't worry, John, I didn't.

Finally made it this year. Armed with my roommate at the time, Emily, we packed our cooler full of booze and hit the road (for the ten minute drive). Greg, my boyfriend at the time, wasn't interested in seeing the show and had previously sent in his absentee ballot. In retrospect, it was the worst choice he could have ever made as my boyfriend. 

The "parking lot" at Blossom was incredible. Their lot is really just a huuuuuge field of rolling hills. That day, it was absolutely packed with cars. So when Emily and I had boozed up sufficiently (and by "sufficiently" I mean I was toasted in one drink--and I even spilled half of it on myself), we took our roll-y cooler on the mile-long hike to a different area of the parking lot to meet up with more of Em's friends.

Enter Brandon, stage right.

His friends described him as this super easy-going hippie. Emily described him as "Becca-sized" (he's 5'5"...and, ahem, we prefer "fun sized"). Ok, so there was a brief greeting and introduction and I commented on his Om necklace (actually, I was highly intrigued because I don't know many male specimen with much knowledge on the subject and I have learned a lot about it this year) and then he trotted off to engage in discourse with a limo driver who had had a small guitar left in his limo the night before.

Amber (Emily's friend) immediately let me know that if I wasn't dating Greg, she would be setting me up with Brandon. My response? "I always keep my options open." Yep, I obviously hadn't met Mr. Right yet. Plus, like I said life had stagnated. I was content, but borderline unhappy. I needed to start letting go of the things that did not serve me, as all of my yoga teachers constantly quipped. 

On to the show. I knew a total of two of the songs he played that night, but I enjoyed every single minute of it. I remember at the very beginning, Emily and I braved the pulsing crowd and walked from one side of the pavilion to the other. All I could smell was marijuana. All I could see were people truly living in the moment. Enjoying every sound, every word, every feeling, every movement. I remember thinking "why don't I have that?" It was like they had reached pure enlightenment and it was beautiful to behold.

When we got back to our group (up a couple of drinks, of course) Dave played the song "Ants Marching". It was the one and only song Emily wanted to hear. So we got up and danced together, and that's the first time I did it. I let down my hair and did my hippie dance! 

and there it true self. Not only could I appreciate all those people enjoying life and the music that came with it, but I could feel it now too. 

The only other song he played that I knew was "You and Me" and I guess it isn't surprising when I say that it wasn't Greg I was thinking about. For some reason, Brandon couldn't find his way out of my head. Later on, I got to share my hippie dance with him too. When everyone had decided to leave, he stopped me to dance with him through the last song that was played, "#41".  When it was over, I turned around expecting everyone to have left, but there they were, watching us dance our silly hippie dance and patiently waiting for us to let the moment go. Emily told me "you guys looked so cute." Thanks Emily, as if my brain wasn't already in over-drive.

I don't think I have done any justice to all the points in the night that Brandon and I truly connected. There were some moments in the parking lot, there was a conversation about silly bands and Ganesha, there was a dance here and there. The whole night definitely had me reeling...and wondering why I was okay being just content Greg when I saw absolutely everything I valued in my life embodied in Brandon.

The after concert plans were to go to Keri's house (one of the girls in the group we were with) for a bonfire. Yes! I'm excited about this because it means I can spend more time with Brandon. When we got there, Emily and I poured one more drink for each other (I made her finish mine) and we sat around the fire. I guess Brandon was in pretty bad shape at that point, because he stayed for about 5 minutes and then got up and went inside. 

I never saw him again that night. He didn't even say goodbye.

(Hahaha, that last sentence is just to pour more salt in the wound for did turn out to be a rough night for him, as I believe there were some upchuck reflexes involved).

The short of the long is, we did reconnect. I did break up with Greg. I haven't looked back once. I'm happier than I have ever been and I can always recall the feeling I get when I let down my hair and did my hippie dance, because I have Brandon by my side.

The Dave Matthews concert was my defining moment of 2010. What was yours?

How to Make and Eat a Poached Egg

Here's my quick how-to for today: How to Make and Eat a Poached Egg. Poached eggs are a staple breakfast in my family, and sometimes I wake up absolutely craving them. It brings back memories of being at my grandparents' house in New Jersey, as soon as I got up I would get some Italian bread, toasted with butter, plopped down in front of me and 2 minutes later a poached egg would be plopped (gently of course) down on top of the toast! Poaching as egg is really simple, but it's something that always intimidated me until my dad showed me how to do it.

What you'll need:
  • 1 saucepan (make sure it's big enough to hold all your eggs without them touching each other)
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 2 eggs (or however many you want to eat)
  • 2 slices of toast
  • a slotted spoon

  • Fill the saucepan almost to the top with water and put your teaspoon of vinegar in the water. Bring to a boil.
  • When water is boiling rapidly, crack open your eggs and drop them into the water. The vinegar should help them hold together. The rolling boil helps to keep the eggs from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Boil eggs for 2-3 minutes (I like to boil mine for a shorter time so the yolk stays runnier, the longer you cook, the harder the yolk will get). If the pan starts to overflow, just turn down the heat. 
  • Remove eggs from saucepan with a slotted spoon and drain any water from them.
  • Place eggs on top of toast. My preferred method of eating is to chop up the eggs so the yolks run all over the place (see the pictures) and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on top of them. You can eat them like "dunky eggs" too, by dunking slices of toast in the yolk to soak up all of that egg-y deliciousness. However you choose to eat them, enjoy each and every bite!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rreeeach for the stars!

28 December 2010: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

Next year I'm going to start down the path to being a teacher. My 2011 achievement for me will be taking that first step...going back to school part time to get my teaching license. My mom keeps warning me, if I'm sick of my job, teaching should be my last resort. I've gotten used to the salary of an engineer and I won't make anywhere near as much. 

Mom, it's not about the money for me. True, I can continue to move up in my company and make more money than I would possibly know what to do with. But in this line of work, I'm only reaching a finite number of people. I've hit the ceiling as far as inspiration goes...and I want to inspire! I want to motivate!! Spending 9 hours in an office everyday just isn't serving me anymore! It's time to take the next step and begin my move into a new profession.

Being a teacher will allow me to spread my own joy and my own experiences to others, and if I can reach out to just one student, I'll have been successful. Being a teacher will afford me more time to spend doing things I love, rather than sitting in an office on a sunny summer day, staring out the window dreaming of fresh air! Being a teacher will allow me to impart my knowledge to others. Being a teacher will make me happy.

In the spirit of this exercise...I'm going to write down 10 new things/thoughts that make me feel happy, because beginning my journey towards teaching isn't the only thing in my life that will have that effect. These are things that I can feel and appreciate and truly be happy, even without my 2011 achievement!

  1. Telling Brandon, each and every day, how much I love and appreciate him.
  2. Finishing my second marathon
  3. Spending time (face-to-face) with my mom, dad, stepmom, brother and baby sister
  4. "Toes in the water, ass in the sand.." on a beach back home on Maui
  5. Planting our garden for the summer
  6. Learning something new
  7. Seeing my plates used in surgery
  8. Being outside...and practicing yoga outside!
  9. Sleeping in and snuggling in bed with Brandon and Pele'
  10. The purple sky at night when it's snowing

Monday, December 27, 2010

ordinary joy

27 December 2010 Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

About 5 months ago, a very good friend of mine gave me some very good advice. Happier than I'd been in months, I caught him up on my life, my new love, and all of the joy I continuously found in ordinary, everyday experiences. Eddie told me to hold onto those feelings; to take mental snapshots so I could always revisit that happiness, even when it gets lost.

Of the many mental snapshots I took this past summer, one stands out in my head. 

There is a short biking/running trail that follows the train tracks about two miles from my home in South Euclid. There was an afternoon this summer when Brandon and I suited up for our run (we were training for a half marathon) and ran out to catch a mile or so on that fun little trail. Heading east, the sun was setting behind us and casting a long shadow across the trail.


My mental snapshot was seeing our shadows run together down the trail that day. Something I love with someone I love. It's something we do several times a week, but I can always go back to that run to relive that joy. Even when it's snowing. Even when it's cold. Even when it's dark. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reflecting on 2010 and a vegan cookie recipe

Merry Christmas!

25 December 2010: Photo - a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Brad Paisley Concert. July 23rd 2010. @ Blossom.

Started my day without going to work (woo!) taking a yoga class, spending time with my friends by the pool. It probably hit about 90 degrees that day. There was tailgating, jello shots galore, lots of pickup trucks and confederate flags were flying. 

As with most country concerts, there were about 7 different people performing, we made it in to the venue in time to see Darius Rucker, someone who I don't know, and then Brad came out. Not three minutes into his set, black, ominous clouds rolled in and the skies opened up. I think three of us (Brandon, Tanja and I) attempted to stay dry underneath a poncho for about 5 minutes before we decided that it just wasn't worth it. Maybe we could make it through one more song? Nope.

It was coming down so hard it wasn't even worth trying to stay dry. We just needed to make it out of Blossom before the parking lot became a swimming pool and no one could leave. This picture was taking on the mile-long hike back to the parking lot. 

In this moment, I was absolutely free of any care, worry, doubt...I was just in it. Completely in the moment. In the zone. There was absolutely nothing we could do about all that rain, so we just went with it. 

Now, onto the cookie recipe. I got home and realized that we didn't have any butter or eggs so I veganized it with some pumpkin and "chia eggs". I also didn't have the oats I though were in the pantry, so I subbed some crushed nuts. The pumpkin gives it a bit of a different taste, but they're just as delicious as the original. The mesquite flour is definitely the ticket for these cookies, it gives them a flavor that nothing else in the world (that I can possibly imagine) would give. You can find mesquite flour on amazon, as I found it impossible to find in ANY store.

Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies

About 45 cookies
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking (Ten Speed) by Heidi Swanson
2½ cups (330 g) flour
1 cup (160 g) mesquite flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
8 ounces (220 g) pumpkin puree
1 cup (400 g) natural cane sugar
3 chia eggs (1 chia egg = 1tbsp chia seeds + 3tbsp warm water)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (230 g) various crushed nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.)
2 cups (360 g) chocolate chips
Two baking sheets covered with parchment paper or lined with silicone baking mats. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
1. In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. With an electric mixer, beat pumpkin puree and sugar until creamy. 
3. Add the chia eggs until completely incorporated, then the vanilla.
4. Add the flour mixture in three batches, incorporating it as you go.
5. Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips. The dough is quite stiff at this point and if you’re not using a powerful standing electric mixer, you may wish to roll up your sleeves and use your hands, like I did.
6. Drop mounds, about two tablespoons of dough each, evenly-spaced onto the baking sheet.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just beginning to set. Err on the underbaked side, I usually go for 10 minutes.
Here’s a tip to help keep chocolate chip cookies moist when they cool: When you pull the cookies out of the oven, take a spatula and tap the top of each cookie once, very lightly, to flatten any peaks and level them.
Then let them cool as usual for the moistest, chewiest chocolate chip cookies imaginable!

and a few more pictures from my wonderful Christmas staycation:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Rebecca. Love, your future self

21 December 2010: Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Dear Rebecca:

Don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed by having too much to do. Make space for the things that matter. 
Try new things and don't be afraid of failure.
Cook most of your meals at home.
Eat chocolate...lots of it. And grow your own tomatoes.
Smile even when you're upset.
Play the Chipmunks Christmas Song for your dogs, they'll sing along. Case in point:
Most sunscreen burns your eyes if you wear it running, use Olay's moisturizing lotion with SPF 15.
Learn to let it go.
Be a sponge. Soak up everything you can.
Pay it forward.
and finally,

xo, your future self.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm a little late to the party, but just stumbled across this website: From the Reverb 10 website: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

For the next two weeks, I'm going to join the movement and use the reverb prompts to reflect on 2010 and doing a little self-exploration into my life and goals and plans for the coming year. 

Enter prompt for December 20th, stage left:

20 December 2010: Beyond Avoidance What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I should have competed in a sprint triathlon this year (specifically, the Portage Lakes Triathlon in September). Will I eventually do it? Yes. In 2010? Not likely (considering the year is 2 weeks from being over and there is SNOW all over creation). 

Competing in a triathlon has been suggested to me several times by various people in my life. My biggest reservation is fear of the unknown. I have no idea how the logistics of a triathlon work. Give me any run-of-the-mill (no pun intended) marathon or half marathon and I'm as comfy as a crab to race again and again. I just show up at the starting line and run until I make it to the finish. 

A triathlon is a whole different animal.

What do I wear for something that requires me to swim, bike and run in one fell swoop? Can I just leave my biking shoes at the transition area when I switch to my running shoes? How do I swim with hundreds of other people around me? How far can I actually swim in open water? 

These questions instill immeasurable doubt in my mind. Isn't that silly? I think Zach Gill (of ALO) sums it up pretty well "... find the strength to move from love and not from fear"

Why in the world wouldn't I train and compete in this incredible even simply because I'm scared? That, my friends, is moving from fear. So, I'm not so sure if I'll be ready to try a tri in 2011 (I think I'd like to get a few more marathons under my belt!) but it's going to be on my pre-30th birthday bucket list.

What is something that you avoided doing this year? What can you do to help overcome your doubts and (in the wise words of Nike) just do it?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fun Things Friday

Okie doke, here are some of the neat things I happened across (or heard about on NPR) while I should have been doing my work this week:

I'm basically obsessed with food's where I find absolutely ALL of my recipes. Here's another resource. From the website "Recipes you'll love from cookbooks we trust"

I always have a problem with having too many calendars. This might help a bit, at least it will streamline all of my post-it notes

Brandon playing "Priority" on the car ride back from North Carolina over Thanksgiving weekend

This song puts me in the BEST mood around the holidays

Next Tuesday is the Winter Solstice! Practice your sun salutations so you can offer 108 of them to the shortest day of the year. Here in Cleveland, we probably won't see the sun at all that day (gray, grrraaay Cleveland) but I will be moving with a sun-shiny intention, regardless.

Ashley (my favorite neverhomemaker) has some good running advice, even if you're not trying to come back from an injury.

I made these chocolate chip cookie sandwiches for a work party. They were definitely a party favorite and miiiight even become a staple for future office parties. They're absolutely divine!

Finally, I leave you with one of my favorite pictures. It's my desktop background on my work computer:

Hope everyone has a lovely, lovely weekend! We're celebrating our monthly Freekend (lots of fun, no $$ required!) What are you planning to do this weekend?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter Workouts: the "I Don't Want To Leave The House" edition

Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running. -Sarah Condor 

Last night was the toughest winter run I've had this year. Not because it was the coldest (although it did feel like 10 degrees). Not because it was the most snowy. Not because it was the longest.

After working all day and spending 50 minutes in the car on the way home, drumming up the energy and motivation to actually leave the house was the toughest thing I had to accomplish all day. I kept telling myself that if I just get out the door, I would feel much better. But I felt frumpy, low on energy and full of sugar and just plain tired.

I came home angry at myself. Angry for eating far too many sweets at work. Angry for not making enough time for my yoga practice. Angry for not having enough time to go to the gym for strength training. Angry because between my commute and working, I feel like I'm wasting 11 hours of my day. Angry because it's freezing. Angry because it's dark. Angry because, at the same time my motivation to exercise wanes in the wintertime, my desire to eat lots and lots of unhealthy food flares.

... and Brandon even got me new gloves to keep my digits warm and toasty!!! 

It took me an hour to drag myself out the door and into the cold night air for what would end up being a run that made me feel immensely better (well, duh). Sometimes I just have so much self-doubt and disappointment running through me that it hinders me from even having the desire to make things better. That is something, for better or for worse, that I need to wash my hands of. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am balanced

....and even though I don't think I have to energy to make it out for a short, 3-mile run, I do...and I will feel amazing after I finish. I just have to buy into it, to believe in it and to draw motivation from it.

What do you do for motivation on days you just don't want to leave the house? What gets you excited for a winter workout? 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carrot, Bell Pepper and Saffron Soup

Last week, there was a ridiculous amount of snow. 

Lake effect conditions from Sunday until Wednesday made my drives to and from work much, much longer than they usually are. With all that extra time in the car, I got to listen to things on the radio that I don't normally get the chance to hear. Thus, Carrot Saffron Soup was born.

I managed to be in the car long enough to hear a piece on NPR about using saffron. (I'm just mad about saffron, saffron's mad about me...) You know, that spice that is more expensive than most illicit drugs? On this show, I learned that it takes more than 75,000 crocus flowers to make one pound of saffron, which takes about the area of a football field to cultivate. One pound of saffron generally costs over $1000. 

Of course, I have saffron in my spice cupboard! I forked over the $15 for .06 ounces, or whatever it was, and I have only used once, for a tomato paella dish (courtesy of The Wednesday Chef. Which, by the way, was amazingly delicious and worth making again). 

In short, the story on NPR was the come-to-jesus moment for me to use my saffron again. In deliciously spicy carrot and bell pepper soup. Here is the recipe with the (very few) changes I made:

Soup of Carrot, Bell Pepper and Saffron
adapted from here

2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil (I used coconut oil over med-low heat)
2 medium leeks, peeled and coarsely chopped (white and light green parts only)
1  pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon ground coriander (hand ground in a mortar and pestle, if you have a lot of dried coriander leftover from your summer cilantro like we do!)
1/2 teaspoon saffron
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup heavy cream organic half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt or to taste, if desired
Saffron to garnish green onions to garnish

Melt the coconut oil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook for about 6-7 minutes or until translucent.
Add the carrots, and bell pepper and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the carrots begin to soften.
Add the turmeric, cayenne, coriander, saffron and mix well. Cook for another minute.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.
Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender, or use an immersion blender, one of the random kitchen appliances that I own and absolutely love.
Stir in the cream, salt and pepper and garnish with green onions.

Do you have any great recipes that use saffron? 

Almond Raspberry Cupcakes, take 2.

Alright boys and's my second attempt at almond berry cupcakes! I'm still a little (well, a lot) disappointed with the icing. I think my problem is that I am following recipes that I have to reduce and I keep getting nervous that I'm going to end up with FAR too much icing, so I'm not adding enough of certain ingredients. The end result is a more saucy, albeit delicious icing.

I'm going to repost my recipe, exactly how I made it. If you have any good ideas/recipes for THICK icing to top these bad boys with, please leave me a comment, or shoot me an email (peacelovebagels [at] gmail [dot] com)

for cupcakes:
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (can sub all purpose or regular whole wheat or a mixture)
½ cup almond meal**
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ cup sugar
2 egg whites
½ cup applesauce (or sub butter or margarine)
½ cup almond milk
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract

for raspberry sauce:
1 pint fresh raspberries + 12 extra to top c-cakes
½ cup water or choice of juice (or ¼ cup agave and ¼ cup juice/water)
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with enough water to form a paste
½ tsp vanilla

In a small saucepan, combine the raspberries, agave nectar, and juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, stir in the vanilla and the cornstarch mixture. Continue to stir as the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, baking soda. In a smaller bowl, cream applesauce (or butter) and sugar for about two minutes. Stir in egg whites, almond milk and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring together until just combined.

Prepare muffin/cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Fill cups about ¼ full, then add a spoonful of raspberry filling, then finish filling with cupcake batter until they’re about ¾ full. Watch out, they bake up pretty big, err on the side of less. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.


When cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with a knife or any desired piping tip. Use another tip or spoon to drizzle remaining raspberry sauce on top. Top with extra raspberries, if you have them ENjoy!

**NOTE: almond meal can be made by grinding almonds in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder (I find this the best use of my coffee grinder and it works better than the other two)

For the frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 cup demara sugar
1 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾-1 cup powdered sugar
3 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more.  Stir in the almond and vanilla extracts and mix just until incorporated.
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