Monthly Archives: September 2011

Let’s Get Physical

Ms Olivia!

I’ve always loved group exercise classes. I took an old school aerobics class with my mom and sister held in a high school gymnasium when I was little. I LOVED it. I took dance throughout my childhood and while I may not have been the star of the class, I sure had fun! I still love to get my dance groove on, especially with a bunch of other people having fun too! In high school I took Step Aerobics classes all the time and also a class called ‘Stretch & Relax’, which was yoga but the YMCA in the early 90s did not want to call it that!

I’ve always wanted to teach aerobics and several years ago I started taking Turbo Kick classes (cardio kickboxing). I was immediately addicted to this format and I thought- I HAVE to teach this. It is so fun! But I didn’t bite the bullet and figure out how to actually get certified to teach until this year. The first step in the process was to obtain a Primary Group Exercise certification through once of the nationally recognized aerobics and fitness organizations. I chose AFAA (American Fitness & Aerobic Association) because it has a good reputation and also because they have a discounted testing program twice a year.

I received my study materials (a GIANT textbook and a study guide, along with a supplemental text book) this summer and had a few months to learn the material. I studied my little heart out and finally the big day came!

I drove 117 miles to downtown Los Angeles to attend a day long workshop and examination. We spent the majority of the day practicing our routines and reviewing the materials as a group. The test consisted of a group practical exam where we had to show various exercises and stretches for different muscles groups as the muscles were called out. This went on for what seemed like a very long time. I was sure sweaty when we were finally done demonstrating all the exercises!

Next we had to do the individual practical portion where we basically taught the class on our own- showing a specific muscle strengthening move, a stretch, or a cardio routine, showing beginner, intermediate, and advanced modifications, whilst smiling, maintaining eye contact, continually talking about form, alignment and safety… all within one to two minutes!! Oy- that was tough, but fun! I was soooo nervous! But once I got up in front of the group I was just excited. I felt at home. I kept repeating to myself the entire day, “I was born to do this. I was born to do this.” It worked! I was born to do this! I want to bring fun, dancey, sweaty, healthy exercise to people that might not normally be inclined to do it!

I was afraid I would be the biggest person in the room. I was afraid I would be the oldest person in the room. I was afraid of a lot of things. But I was dead-wrong. There was every kind of person, from all walks of life in that room. There were 92 very different individuals with 92 different bodies, faces, points of view, and personalities. It was an amazing experience that I will remember with love forever!

It takes 4-6 weeks for the results of the testing to arrive in the mail. The test was a couple weeks ago, so I now have 2-4 weeks left? I feel confident that I passed. I’ll find out soon enough!

Blue Ribbon Coconut Cake

For the past few years I’ve been aiming to enter my coconut cake in the county fair. I kept missing the registration deadline because, well, I didn’t know when it was.

This year, my sweet friend emailed me the day it opened and so I registered online, paid my $1.00 (haha), and was signed up! I was so excited. I really hoped my vegan cake would take the blue ribbon! After all, the cake is always a hit at family functions where I’m the only vegan. Surely the rest of the world (or at least county) would find my cake equally delicious as my family…

I originally found a recipe for a basic white cake somewhere online but have adapted it over and over, and added my coconutty take, so that now I feel I can share it and safely say it is my own:

Blue Ribbon Coconut Cake!

Blue Ribbon Coconut Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups dry sugar of your choice

2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups coconut milk (I used one 13 oz can of light coconut milk, poured it into a 2 cup measuring cup and topped it off with soymilk to equal 2 cups)

2/3 cup canola oil (or oil of your choice)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4-1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

sift dry ingredients together. stir in wet ingredients. pour into two oiled and floured non-stick 8 or 9 inch round pans.

bake at 350 degrees for 28-35 minutes (my oven seems to run hot so it takes the lesser amount of time). test for doneness with a toothpick.

after about 10 minutes you should be able to easily turn the cakes out of the pans.

For my fair entry I baked the cakes the day before and chilled them overnight so the frosting would stay nice and fluffy and firm. Normally I make a buttercream frosting using organic Earth Balance buttery spread, but since EB gets super soft super quick when outside of the fridge I decided to make a fluffy white frosting with shortening for the entry. I wasn’t sure how long the cake would be sitting out of the fridge.

Fluffy Coconut Frosting (adapated-ish from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book 12th Edition- but frosting recipes are pretty basic so make your fave!):

1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 pound box of confectioner’s sugar- sifted

3-4 tablespoons soy or coconut milk

sweetened, flaked coconut

Beat the shortening till fluffy. add the extracts and beat. add the sugar a little at a time. add the milk as needed till it reaches the right consistency.

Now I frost the layers and then add a generous amount of sweetened, flaked coconut all over the top and sides. It is best to chill the cake again for at least an hour before slicing.

naked cakes

For the fair entry I only had to take half of the cake plus one slice for display. That meant I had almost a half of a cake to enjoy over the weekend! Yay!

slice o heaven!

I submitted the cake on Saturday, the judging was the next day, but I didn’t find out about results until the following Wednesday when the fair opened and I went to see for myself. Well, I didn’t win. Boo! But I was so happy to even have entered- it was a really fun experience and I loved the old-timey feel of entering a cake in a county fair! My coconut cake will always be a Blue Ribbon winner for the animals! :)

I Heart Sammiches

I’m a sandwich aficionado. I love all kinds. And I really LOVE Philly Cheeze Steak-types. Now, the best cheeze steak I’ve ever had was at Blackbird Pizza in Philadelphia. It makes sense that the best cheeze steak would come from Philly- even a vegan one! That sammich was probably the best sandwich period, not just cheeze steak, it was so amazing. Super thinly shaved, perfectly seasoned seitan on a grilled roll with a sprinkling of Daiya mozzerella and grilled onions and peppers. It also came with mushrooms but I had them leave them off as I hate mushrooms. Ick. Notice I’m not calling the one from Blackbird Pizza a PHILLY cheeze steak. You can’t call it that if it’s from Philly. That’s the rule. Don’t argue.

On to my dinner tonight:

I had some Beef-less Strips from Trader Joes that needed using up. I marinated the strips in vegan Worcestershire (I love that word!) sauce. While they were marinating I sauteed yellow onion, golden bell pepper, and a tiny jalapeno (from my friend’s garden) in Earth Balance. I toasted a Pyrenees French roll (if you’re not lucky enough to live in Bakersfield, CA you haven’t had French bread! Unless, maybe, you’ve been to, say, France…) and melted a couple slices of rice cheese- American style on it. When the veggies were done I tossed in the strips and heated them through. Then I poured the veggie/meat mix onto the toasty-cheezy bun and voila! Philly Cheeze Steak Sammich!

If I hadn’t been totally starving I would have made the Gee Whiz sauce from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook to spread all over this! That sauce is super quick and so delicious, but I really didn’t want to spend an extra 15 minutes when I had the cheezy slices on hand. Anyway, it was tasty and satisfying and I have enough left for lunch tomorrow! Unless I eat another one tonight. Which happens sometimes.

And- one last note. I’m calling this my Thankful Thursday post because I am so very thankful that I’m able to throw stuff together without a recipe from stuff I have on hand in my kitchen. I’m thankful that I have a nice kitchen in which to make said yummy stuff. :)


super yum