Archive | September, 2012

Healthy Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

27 Sep

During my figure competition diet, all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait to go back to gluten-free baking. I really don’t eat that poorly in the “off season”–being gluten-free keeps me in check. I do, however, looooove gluten-free brownies and cookies. I always keep my favorite Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix on hand for baking emergencies. Because of the competition diet, I’d consumed zero processed or refined sugar for 12 weeks. During the last two weeks before competition, I even cut out fruit because of its high sugar and carbohydrate content to lean up. Coming off of an extremely restrictive diet, I wanted to use as close to natural sugar as possible to not shock my body.

Oatmeal was one of the three main sources of carbohydrates in my diet. One might think I wouldn’t want to eat oatmeal after the diet, but all I could think of was how delicious oatmeal raisin cookies would be after the competition! So, here it is, the week after the competition, and I found a great recipe from a fellow English teacher in Korea that cooks wonderful vegan and gluten-free foods. The site is great–it’s called “Wayfaring Teacher”. I encourage you to check it out for some great recipes, or just a bit of insight of what it is like for those with food restrictions living in Korea. I adapted that recipe to what I had in my cupboard. Here’s what I used:

1 3/4 cup quick-cooking old-fashioned oats (I used the Quaker ones because I’m not super sensitive to oats; if you are, I would Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free quick-cooking or rolled oats)

1 cup Pamela’s Baking & Pancake mix (*original recipe calls for 1/2 cup oatmeal ground into flour plus 1/2 cup almond flour, which I didn’t have)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup raisins

1 banana

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp honey (*optional – or substitute your choice of sweetener)

1/4 cup nonfat milk

2 tsp cinnamon

1. Mix oatmeal, Pamela’s, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl.

2. Mash the banana, then add vanilla.

3. Combine wet ingredients to dry mixture.

4. Start mixing, then add in honey. Use more or less, depending on personal preference.

5. Pour in raisins.

6. Add milk to get a lighter, thinner consistency.

As the original post says, add more milk if the mixture is too dry; if it is too wet, adjust with oats.

Bake at 350 degrees (about 175 Celsius in my lil’ Korean toaster oven) for 12-15 minutes. When mixing the cookie batter, I used my hands. Depending on how many oats you use, the batter can be a bit crumbly. I wanted “mini-bites”, so I rolled the cookies into small balls and flattened them down a bit. Cookies were ready when the edges started to brown.

I ate them without taking a picture. No worries; I’ll make them again and post. This was my first time using honey in place of sugar. These cookies didn’t need any additional sweetener, but I had to satiate my craving, and honey did the trick! I personally love extra raisins and cinnamon in mine, but this recipe can be easily tweaked.

Happy Baking!

 

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The Journey Continues: My First Competition

23 Sep

I am sitting here on my comfy couch, a day after my very first figure and bikini competition, with a bloated tummy yet content heart. After 12 weeks of grueling training, restrictive dieting, rigorous scheduling, and an insane amount of self-discipline, I accomplished my personal goal of transforming my body and competing in something I never thought I would have the mental wherewithal to do. The emotions hit me sporadically throughout my training, usually when I least expected it: first thing in the morning over a bowl of oatmeal or in the gym in the middle of a superset. At first I thought that I would be emotional upon hearing my name called on stage. But yesterday, after so much waiting and anticipation, I was just relieved to finally be up there! My emotions held off until today, when everything hit me while riding in a taxi from an enthralling post-competition Costco trip.

I DID IT!!! I didn’t place in the top five of either category as I had hoped, but I:

  • Researched and found an upcoming competition in a foreign country, contacting various people and communicating in Korean to get all of the details
  • Set a goal to be ready for the competition from 12 weeks out
  • Met with a personal trainer/bodybuilder to understand the basics of what I had to commit to in terms of dieting and exercise
  • Developed an exercise plan and chose my workouts for each week
  • Tailored a diet specific to my needs, including meal-planning and calculating and tracking all macro-nutrients
  • Reduced my body fat percentage from 17% to 10% in 10 weeks in a healthy way
  • Challenged myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally like I never have before

I wish that I would have been keeping a journal throughout this process; however, I simply just didn’t have the time to write. Between working out two hours per day, working eight hours per day, cooking and prepping food at least an hour per day, going grocery shopping three to four times per week, actually eating as much (and when) as I was supposed to, I could barely get to bed with enough time to get that much-needed muscle-building recovery sleep in. It was rough: there were days I thought I was going to rip peoples’ heads off due to the calorie deficit. There were a lot of things that I experienced that I don’t know if other women–or any athletes–have experienced. I am grateful to the wonderful competitors that did make the time to blog about everything. They literally saved me!

I live in South Korea, where a gym membership is outrageous, most gyms do not have the “incline” function enabled on treadmills, a personal trainer costs a minimum of $45/hour (on top of the monthly gym fee), many “trainers” have limited knowledge about how to healthily and properly build muscle, and the overall fitness philosophy is a bit behind that of the Western countries. So I decided to do this on my own. I am thrilled with the results, although last night and today I am reaping the effects of trying to eat somewhat “normal” food. It’s waaaay too early to be incorporating carbs, but those carnitas have been calling my name for 12 weeks! I made gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies tonight–yes, it might sound weird after having oatmeal as one of my main three sources of carbs for the last three months–and they were amazing! I’ll share the recipe I found online.

Competition day was not the smoothest day; there was a lot of confusion between everything being in Korean and nothing at the show being neither well-organized nor well-orchestrated. But it was what I expected: an early morning starting at 5:40 a.m., a long day of sitting around and waiting, a lot of nerves coursing through my body and questions running through my head, then rushing around to do my three suit/look changes back-to-back. Although I didn’t place, I had a wonderful group of friends that turned up to support me. I got a huge smile on my face every time I heard them yelling “foreigner!” or my competitor number in Korean. My husband was just amazing: right in step with me, helping me pump before going on stage, applying Bikini Bite and spray tan periodically as needed, giving me a kiss before going backstage, and yelling my number in Korean while reminding me to show my “MUSCLES!” in English. Right now, I’m just trying to bask in the satisfaction that I DID IT and nurse my poor, sensitive tummy back to its happy, clean-diet state. Maybe after one more peanut-butter M&M…