Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Fun & Pfeffernusse Recipe

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas weekend! The past few days have been relaxing and full of family fun. Also full of a lot of Pfeffernusse, a spice cookie that my family makes for Christmas every year, which I included a recipe for below.

After a call to discuss a pro bono project with my supervisor Friday morning, I spent the afternoon running a couple of miles before taking a barre class with my mom and sister at a brand new studio in a nearby town. At 3 classes for $30, I had to try it!

Unfortunately, the class was a bit too easy for me. However, since I have 2 more classes, I think I'll try another instructor and see if I can get a good workout. I sweat a lot when I work out normally, even in barre classes, so the fact that I was dry the entire time was disappointing. Fingers crossed the next class is better!

rural roads make for great running :)
The rest of the weekend was spent buying last minute gifts, running on some gorgeous country roads, and being extremely lazy. I baked cookies with my parents and enjoyed a delicious quinoa salad at one of my favorite local cafes to make up for all the cookies. I sat on the couch a lot. It was a lovely weekend.

the "downtown" area -- the town has a Dutch influence, hence the windmill 
Then, I ran 12 miles on Christmas Eve Day. It was another tough run -- I started when it was about 34 degrees out and it never got above 38 degrees. However, that didn't stop the clouds from opening up. Despite forecasted sun, I ended up running in freezing rain (when it's 4-6 degrees above being snow, I think it qualifies as freezing).

The middle miles were rough and slow, and since I was running in my town I was mainly running through residential neighborhoods there wasn't even interesting sightseeing. I wanted to run on a trail, but my parents asked me to run in an area with plenty of people so they wouldn't worry. Town run it was! Their house, their rules :)

The run was a slog, but I pushed through and got the miles in, finishing with an 8:57 mile! I feel very ready for Monday's New Year's Eve Half-Marathon. Although right now the forecast is saying high 20s or low 30s, cold for Washington... ahh!! Hopefully my breathing is ok! Whatever happens, I'm really happy I put a race on my calendar to keep me active while home in Washington.

yumm -- lots of avocados were consumed
I refueled post-run with a delicious Christmas Eve dinner of Mexican food, and of course lots and lots of cookies. Not very traditional, but I was happy -- I love Mexican food! After some caroling and watching the Nutcracker, we trotted off to bed (with visions of sugar plums, stockings hung with care, etc.)

thank you, Instagram, for capturing the glowy-ness of our Christmas tree 
I had so much fun picking out gifts for my family this year, so it was wonderful to see them open their presents. A few of them were even fitness-related (what can I say, I'm obsessed). I got a foam roller for my dad, who's new to running and has back issues, and an Erica Sara Designs Say It Do It bracelet for my mom to help keep up her gym motivation. I also received some great items as well, most of which were for running, of course. Nothing like a stocking full of nuun to make me happy!

Merry Christmas, Mason!
The rest of this week will be full of taper goodness, with just a couple of short runs, some yoga, and lots of foam rolling!

Elf for Health

When I saw all the Elf4Health chatter on Twitter, I was curious what the challenge was. It's basically a series of mini daily challenges to keep you healthy during the holidays, but it also involves matching up with a fellow Elf to support them! I loved the idea so much, but unfortunately I found out too late to participate in the first rounds. I am signed up now, though, and was matched with Sophia!

We both successfully completed the Monday challenge of calling an old friend to chat. It's funny -- I rarely call people other than Sourabh or my parents! It was nice to chat with an old friend and figure out when we'll be seeing each other over the holidays. We ended up getting a white Christmas after all when it started snowing around 11 AM, so Tuesday's challenge of taking a walk with the family was a no-go since there's nowhere to walk around my house and the roads weren't plowed. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the challenges and getting to know my fellow Elf more!

Pfeffernusse Recipe
Makes roughly 4 dozen

These cookies are nutty, spicy, and full of deliciousness. You could use them as run fuel if you're a whole foods-fueling runner since they're basically sugar and nuts with some flour thrown in, but no dairy to cause phlegm (my nemesis when running). If you want to make them sweeter, roll them in powdered sugar after they come out of the oven. If you want to make them vegan, here are some suggestions for how to replace eggs in baking. Otherwise, enjoy a semi-healthy and extremely tasty spice cookie.

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup honey (warm)
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
3 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 1/2 tablespoons cardamom
2 teaspoons fresh finely ground black pepper
4 teaspoons fresh ginger
2 cups finely ground hazelnuts
2 cups finely ground almonds
4 cups unbleached flour (can substitute 2 cups regular for 2 cups whole wheat flour)

bonus: you can fit a lot on one baking sheet!
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine sugars and eggs.

3. Add honey, soda and spices then mix.

4. Fold in nuts then add flour gradually. You may need to combine using your hands as the dough becomes quite thick.

5. Round dough into 1 inch-thick balls, place 1 inch apart on non-stick pan or on parchment paper and bake 12 to 15 minutes.

6. Let cool on wire rack (option to roll in powdered sugar here).

How was your Christmas? Are you running any holiday races? Any special holiday recipes?


  1. Great job on your 12 miler- you're definitely ready for the half! I am planning to get 10-12 miles in today... I took off Christmas day, which was nice. Your cookies look so yummy!

    1. Good luck with your miles! I also took Christmas day off and felt nice and relaxed. These cookies are delicious... and habit-forming! I should have included a warning :)

  2. Looks like you had a great Christmas, Jen! I've been running consistently while home (although I took today off!), and it's definitely helped me be a "better me" during the holidays; I'm much more fun to be around if I'm sweating on a regular basis. ;) Congrats on your 12 miler (wow!), and you'll do great during your half-marathon. Enjoy tapering! :)

    1. It was a really nice day, Carrie. And I so agree, I'm a nicer person if I get my sweat on! Tapers make me a bit stir-crazy, but I'm going to do yoga to keep myself limber and happy :)

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  4. Glad you're having a wonderful time at home!!! I took a few days of exercise off for the holidays because with all the traveling I have to do, carrying extra clothes and figuring out an exercise schedule is just too daunting. Luckily when I came back today I miraculously got my butt to Refine method in the rain/snow!

    Have a happy New Year and can't wait for some exercise dates when you get back :-)

    1. Oof I can only imagine -- I was packing a big suitcase for a month and had no idea how to pack all my workout clothes and shoes AND regular clothes for a month. Workout clothes won out ;)

      Refine Method has a great deal for students that I'm going to take advantage of when I get back, so let's set a Refine date when I'm back!