I am addicted to all things holiday season. Joy and spirit fill the air and send me on a seasonal happy high. Lights strung throughout our home, the faint piney freshness of a Christmas tree, the jingling of bells, ginger spiced cookies, holiday sweaters, and the creamy, nutmeggy flavor of eggnog.
My childhood Christmas memories always included drinking eggnog. I thought everyone drank it! But I’ve since learned there are two kinds of people in life: those who love eggnog, and those who won’t touch it with a ten-foot straw (eh hem, my husband). It’s RICH! Cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and bourbon — basically the equivalent of drinking melted ice cream. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if that’s the case, I’d rather eat eggnog ice cream. Unfortunately, it’s been years since I’ve enjoyed a glass without feeling guilty, heavy and bloated.
No, but not this year! What I’ve discovered is a more gut-pleasing approach to enjoying this once-a-year holiday drink. VEGAN EGGNOG. This recipe blew my mind when I tasted it for the first time. It’s much healthier than traditional eggnog, AND it is still just as creamy with the rich flavor of fresh nutmeg. It also takes no time at all to make. Add that to your holiday to-do list!
How does it get so creamy? CASHEWS! Once soaked in water, cashews soften and can be made into cheeses, milk, spreads, ice cream, and dips. I soaked my cashews for 8 hours. If you are in a hurry you can also pour boiling water over them and soak for 30 minutes. Rinse them a few times, and then add them to a blender with two cups of water. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes. You want the cashews to be completely broken up and for your mixture to be white and smooth.
Next add a can of full-fat coconut milk, 6-8 pitted dates, vanilla, salt, and freshly ground nutmeg to the blender. In my mind, there’s really no exception to fresh nutmeg, but if you only have ground it’s absolutely okay to use it. Now blend everything again on high speed for another 1-2 minutes. The dates should be completely broken apart.
Mixing everything at high-speed will add a little warmth to the eggnog. While I personally believe eggnog should be served ice cold, don’t feel bad if you immediately pour yourself a little taster of this vegan eggnog. Fresh out of the blender — so frothy, so creamy, so nutmeggy. SO GOOD! Of course, to make it the adult version, add in spiced rum, bourbon or cognac (or all three)!
WHO KNEW VEGAN EGGNOG COULD BE THIS CREAMY?
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and not hearing the words turkey and gravy couldn’t come soon enough. I’m still stuffed! I eat turkey pretty much once a year, so it doesn’t take much to hit my annual quota. Pumpkin pie is a whole other story. What quota? This year I’m thanksful for multiple turkey trots.
In between scarfing down the traditional holiday treats, we’re stuffing our faces with a slightly healthier version of indulgence — banana oatmeal blender muffins. Are you noticing a trend yet? I’m completely obsessed with making easy recipes that include the use of my assistants Mr. Vitamix and Mrs. Food Processor. Every once in a while we call in the Wizard living in the slow cooker. He’s pretty magical too!
If you recall how simple it was to prepare my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, these banana oatmeal blender muffins are even easier! Start with putting all ingredients, except the eggs and mix-ins, into the blender until combined. The blender might need a scrape down midway through. Next, add in 2 eggs and blend again until completely smooth. Finish by stirring in a half-cup of dark chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, or whatever else you can dream up! Mix well with a spoon — don’t blend.
Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full and top off with a little extra mix-in if you’re feeling inspired. Here I got crazy with a little toasted coconut for a change. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375°. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.
We’re taught to follow our passions and told by doing so we’ll never work a day in our lives. In some ways, this is true. In many ways, this is the story of my career development, but I recently went through an eye-opening, professional experience that felt worth sharing. I took a “passion pause“. It’s a story that follows my passion for running, but my need for self-love. I’ll warn you this is going to be a long post without fun pictures, but the story feels like it needs to come out of me because there might be others who can benefit.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize I’m a runner. Look at my blog, my Instagram feed, my closet, and my accomplishments, and you’ll find they are are filled with everything running. My dresser spews ridiculous quantities of wicking shirts, my running shoe collection is out of control, there are GU’s in my purse, and if you meet me at a party I’m most likely talking about something running related. This might be boring to most, but I geek out on it! If you’ve ever read my About Me page (most of you probably haven’t and that’s okay), I mention that I recently left my corporate job — well, that’s what it used to say. But what I didn’t share was that I left my corporate job at Brooks Sports. Yes, I left a dream job with a dream company in my dream field of work to go off and dream. WHAT? REALLY?! Who needs a pause from that?! It sounds crazy, but I’ll explain why this time off provided the perspective I needed to become a better employee.
A resume glimpse beyond my 5 years with Brooks reveals almost 16 years of working in the running shoe industry — approximately 9 years with Finish Line and then almost 2 years with Fleet Feet Pittsburgh before Brooks. It’s been a long time and by far the greatest experience for my professional and personal growth. It’s taken me places and given me opportunities I could have only dreamt about. I’m a runner who followed my heart and landed in a running company. What could be better?! Well, yes, to an outsider this is the perfect match, but inside I began having feelings of self-doubt and unhappiness. What happened to me was what I’ve heard happen to so many others. I worked hard — really hard — and found myself moving into roles that left me feeling empty. I was grateful every day that I was employed with a company whose purpose I embodied, but there was something that wasn’t clicking. I was frustrated with myself and couldn’t stop moving long enough to figure out what was causing this uneasy feeling. I needed to step outside my own head to gain a better understanding of where I was in my life.
There was NO plan for what was going to happen next, but I knew if I followed my heart I would end up finding it. I turned in my computer and brought all my belongings home on my last day at Brooks, but my mind and heart never fully separated. I reflected back on why I was in this profession, and what it was that made me so happy when I began this journey 15 years earlier. It didn’t take me long to realize that my calling to this industry is bringing excitement and energy to running, and being on the front lines and engaging with people is where I thrive. Nothing makes my heart happier than watching someone cross the finish line of their first race or to support someone in taking their first leap from walking to running. The energy I receive from being around people who share the same love for the runners high is indescribable. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Four months after my passion pause began, the perfect opportunity to return to Brooks presented itself. My energy was full, and I was ready to lace back up with Brooks. This time, in a completely different role than my previous. Now my focus is centered around building community programs through the Brooks flagship store in Seattle. A match made in running heaven. I’m working to build upon the affinity for the run: inviting people to run with us and commune with us around what makes us all live happier lives.
Running is a metaphor for life. It’s long, surprising, exhausting, challenging, rewarding, humbling, and exhilarating. Our experiences shape our lives and continuously change our perspective. From time to time, it’s a natural feeling to want to stop the world and get off. Remember the race is still going to keep running without you, but take that porta-potty break, high-five a bunch of friends and dance with the bands. (In other words, be still, reconnect with friends, and have some fun!) Don’t be afraid to re-find who YOU are! And then remember to get back on this ride called life. I did, and I learned a lot about myself.
What I now know to be true:
- My desire to welcome others into the running lifestyle is strong.
- Outdoor industry folks are my people.
- My blood is Brooks blue.
- I’m a work-a-holic.
- Life needs a balance of work and home, and it’s up to me to create it.
- Not having a plan is a plan in itself.
- Eat Happy Run Healthy was part of this adventure and will continue on!
If someone sat me down and asked me to state my purpose in life, I would have to say that I feel it is to be on the welcoming committee of the sport of running, to encourage others and coach when needed, and to be a cheerleader for the Brooks brand. There’s no way to give back to running, so it’s my job to pay it forward.
I’m blessed that I have family and friends who supported me, thankful that my husband allowed me to leap without fear, and grateful for doors that reopened. Hope to see you at the Brooks Trailhead soon!
QUESTION: Have you ever taken time off to rediscover yourself?
I have a lot of love for food, but love it not a word that I would use with beets. I don’t want them, yearn for them, or crave them — like EVER. But, I do tend to make exceptions for foods with health values outweighing their taste. Sometimes they creep into recipes like beet brownies or spinach pancakes, but one of my favorites is BEET HUMMUS. Rich, magenta, homemade beet hummus. I know, it’s not quite a brownie, but go with me on this one. You’ll not be sorry!
I started making this recipe over the summer, and it’s been a major hit at quite a few events. The fresh garlic cloves combined with warm, earthy cumin and the nuttiness of coriander makes dipping into a bowl of this beet hummus simply irresistible.
The recipe starts with roasting the beets for 30 minutes in a little bit of water, which brings out the natural sugars making them slightly sweet and supple. After that, you’re almost done. Have you noticed I love easy? I think almost everything I’ve made on this blog by now incorporates a blender or a food processor. (You’re welcome!)
Drain the roasted beets in a colander and let them cool 10 – 15 minutes. Add the roasted beets and drained chickpeas into a food processor and combine until almost smooth. Next, add the tahini, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Process on high while drizzling the olive oil into the hummus.
Give it a little taste and add in a little more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to suit your taste. Process until completely smooth and magnificently magenta colored. Chow down with your favorite veggies, chips or crackers. I also love smearing this on a whole wheat tortilla to add some pop to my favorite lunch wrap.
QUESTION: What other ways do you love to incorporate beets into your favorite recipes?
A couple of weeks ago I shared a coconut milk recipe with you all. If you missed it, you can find it here. Remember how easy it was? Like SOOOO easy that I am going to share two more milk recipes with you, so you can spice it up a little and get all tropi-crazy with flavors: vanilla-coconut and cinnamon-coconut.
I’m a huge, huge fan of the vanilla. The slight sweetness comes all natural from dates, and the hit of vanilla is a major compliment to the coconut flavor. Try washing down your favorite warm cookie with an ice-cold swig of this stuff, and you’re sure to thank me (and share this recipe with your friends, right?! And now I’ll thank you back.)
What do you think about making popcicles out of this recipe? If anyone gets to it before I do, let me know how it comes out! I was thinking of throwing in some additional coconut in them to give some texture. Mmmmm….
These two recipes find their way to my fridge more often than the regular coconut milk. I don’t cook a lot of food that uses milk, but the spicy, sweet variations pair perfectly with smoothies, baked goods, as creamer, and to drink alone. Mix some into cardamom coffee or with your favorite chai tea to take your mornings to another level. Added bonus — coconut milk doesn’t curdle in hot beverages like almond milk does, and the coconut cream makes a frothy vegan foam to dollop on top.
The ingredients for don’t differ much between the two recipes, but I’m a visual person so I figured some of you might be too. Here’s the breakdown:
CINNAMON-COCONUT MILK VANILLA-COCONUT MILK
QUESTION: Now that you have 3 different versions of coconut milk, which is your favorite?