Saturday, September 29, 2012

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Donuts!

Yesterday, I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and saw donut pans. I've always wanted to try to make my own donuts, but wasn't up for yet another specialty pan (I have quite a few already). But let me tell you, this pan is going to get a lot of use! Yesterday was overcast and very rainy all day, so my morning run was out. I decided that it would be the perfect day for some donut experiementation :) 

I've secretly been waiting for the perfect time to go get a nice hot coffee and a pumpkin spice donut from Dunkin Donuts. I know some people hate DD, but I love it! But you know what I don't love? That their pumpkin spice donut is 360 calories and has 21 grams of fat! That's why I opted to make my own. Granted, they aren't going to taste like a Dunkin Donuts donut, but these "healthy" donuts taste so much better in my opinion. They don't leave that yucky fatty and sugary residue that never seems to come off your teeth.

I also just got a brand new range, and I hadn't used the oven yet. I was really curious to see if this oven was better than my last one. It's definitely better, especially for baked goods. The donuts cooked evenly and turned out really spongy and cake-like. My old oven would have left them doughy or overcooked for sure. Read on for the recipe!

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Donuts


1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 /12 tsp. baking soda 
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
a dash of nutmeg 
1 tsp. cinnamon 

1 egg 
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
3/4 cup pumpkin puree 
1/2 cup almond milk (I use Almond Breeze Vanilla Unsweetened) 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 individual size (4 oz.) cinnamon apple sauce 


Preheat oven to 350. Grease donut pan by spraying Pam onto a paper towel and rub the inside of each section. Set aside. 

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. 

Combine all the wet ingredients in a mixer or a large bowl. After the wet ingredients are mixed well, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Do not overmix. The batter should look similar to cake batter. 

Carefully spoon the batter mixture into the greased donut pan, filling just about to the top of each section. Be careful not to let the batter fill each section higher than where the pan ends. They poof up plenty, so you don't want to overfill them. 

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The donuts should feel spongy and spring back to your touch. You can also use a toothpick to test for doneness. 

When donuts are done, remove from pan after a few minutes. I waited about five minutes just so they wouldn't fall apart from being so hot. Place donuts on a cooling rack or plate until cooled. 

After cooled, they can be stored in a plastic baggie or Tupperware to keep fresh. 

My batch actually only made me 10 muffins. I was hoping for a dozen, though. I was happy with the size of the donuts, but it's kind of random to have 10 donuts instead of 12. Oh well!

What makes these "healthy?" 

 No dessert food is necessarily healthy, unless of course consumed in moderation. I am in no way claiming these are really good for you, especially if you plan to eat a bunch! However, this is a much healthier alternative to donuts than anything you can get in a store. Using apple sauce instead of vegetable oil saves about 550 calories a batch, or 55 calories per donut! Furthermore, using almond milk instead of cows milk saves a little bit on calories too (almond milk is 40 calories per cup, whereas 2% milk is 122 calories per cup). If you decide to use oil instead of apple sauce and regular milk instead of almond or another low-calorie milk, these donuts will definitely not be as healthy. 

Nutritional Information 

Per one donut (with a batch yielding 10 donuts total). If your batch yields 12 donuts, the calories will be even less. 

145 calories 
1g fat 
3g protein 
1g fiber 

Topping Instructions 

On a side note, these donuts have no glaze or anything. But to make it truly like a donut, I of course had to experiment with some kind of topping. They are pretty cake-like and simple with a topping, but a topping really makes these a hit. For a topping, I dipped the donuts in melted butter and then dipped them in cinnamon sugar. It was devine! I used whipped butter that's half the calories of regular butter to make a little better for you. I estimated that the topping adds about 66 calories a donut if you only coat the top and bottom (not the sides). 


1/4 cup melted butter (whipped preferred) 
3 tbsp. sugar 
1 tbsp. cinnamon (or however cinnamony you like cinnamon sugar to be) 

This mixture only coats about 4 donuts. I wasn't planning on coating them all though, so that's why I didn't make this enough to coat them all. I would recommend coating them only right before you're about to eat it as the butter will make it all soggy. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know what you think if you try it! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Last Running Update before the Half!

Whew, has time flown by! Just eleven weeks ago, I signed up for the Boston Half-Marathon. It's already been that long? I'm in utter shock that the Half-Marathon is nine days away. Less than a week! Eek! I know my anticipation about the half is way scarier than actually running it - or so I hope. In attempt to collect all my thoughts about running since training began, here is a list of things I've learned on the journey.

5 Things I've Learned about Running

1. Running and training is not perfect. 

I used Hal Higdon's training plan to prepare. I made a lovely colored calendar with workouts posted in little boxes to check off. Did I do each one of them? No way. Did life get in the way of running sometimes? You bet. No, I didn't do every single workout exactly as I had planned, and I knew that would happen. Sometimes the weather isn't good for a run. Sometimes I was in pain or recovering. I went on vacation and that threw me off a bit. But I did the best that I could.

Furthermore, something is always not perfect. My shoes are too tight. My shoes are too loose. I'm hot. I'm cold. I'm thirsty. It starts to rain. Someone's dog just cut me off. I tripped on a stick. I start to feel pain and have to stop. My iPod dies. You get it! But instead of focus on how all the conditions may not be perfect, I like to focus on that I am running at all - and that in itself is greater than all the imperfections that bother me.

2. Running better takes a while.

I thought that one day I would just magically love running and be really good at it. If that day is ever to come, it has not yet. Running does not ever really feel easier to me. I run better now. I have better form, I know different techniques, but "easy" is not something I ever think to describe my runs. Running longer distances takes a long time to work up to. When I started training, a 3 mile run was killer to me. Now, 5 mile runs are my "norm." But that took 11 weeks to get to!

3. Stop comparing. 

I'm a slow runner. It's really easy for me to start comparing myself with other runners around me (if there are any), or just compare myself to "other runners" in general. I've really had to take a step back and tell myself that my personal best is the best. I can't want someone else's personal best because, well, I'm not them. I've gotten to the point where I don't want to compare myself to anyone else anymore. I'm just happy that I ran that day, however slow or fast it was. Basically, there will always be someone faster and slower than you. Where you are - if you're giving it all you've got - is the best.

4. I can actually run at different times of the day. 

I am very used to working out early in the morning. If it gets too late, I basically have had the attitude that it's "too late to work out," regardless of if I have the energy. However, some mornings if the weather isn't great, I have to wait until mid morning or even the evening to get a run in. Adjusting the times when I run was not fun for me. I personally believe I have the most energy in the morning. But some of my evening runs have been really great too. Allowing for changes in my running habits has forced me to step outside of what I prefer, but I realize now that it is possible.

5. I like running! 

Before training started, I was not a runner. I ran sometimes, but not regularly and I didn't like it one bit. I never thought I could run 3 miles well. I never thought I could run 5 miles, but I do 5 mile runs often now. Sometimes I don't always like running while I'm doing it, but when I'm done - I am so happy. I feel so accomplished and empowered. I totally get runners now. Running just gives me power. And when I run, I feel at peace with myself and powerful for going on a run at all. Overall, running makes me feel in control of myself regardless of what anyone says. Running is my little happy place that I didn't have before!

9 days before the half-marathon. Yes, I am kind of scared. But I'm also pretty excited about it! I can't wait to see what it's really like! Wish me luck :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Daily Schedule Free Printables

Lately, I find myself making a little list every night before bed about what I'm going to do the next day. If I don't have a schedule mapped out, I end up up wasting time by not knowing what to expect. By knowing what to expect, I get more of what I truly want to do done, and I am a happy person. I'm tired of making these lists on store bought to do lists that are too small or random scraps of paper. I wanted a pretty daily schedule, so I of course went to Pinterest for help. I actually couldn't find much for free schedule printables. I found a few schedules, but they were way more complicated than I was looking for. Since I didn't find anything that suited my taste, I thought I would come up with my own!

I made both a daily schedule and a weekly schedule broken down by the days of the week. Sometimes I like to plan out my whole week ahead of time, where other times, I am only focused on the next day. Both of these lists were just what I was needing to plan my time better and in a fashionable way as well :)

For the daily routine, click here.

For the weekly schedule, click here.

I hope you enjoy them! These lists are only for personal use. Let me know if you end up using them! 

What do you like to do to plan for your week or the next day? 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Latte at Home

My attempt at an at-home Pumpkin Spice Latte! 
It's feeling like fall, and you know what that means! Pumpkin is back! I love all things pumpkin. I currently have some pumpkin soap, pumpkin cupcake scented candles, I just made some pumpkin bread, I had a pumpkin smoothie, and I even had some pumpkin cider. Last fall I fell in love with pumpkin, and this fall is only going to be more hardcore pumpkin action going on, especially in my kitchen.

One of my favorite things about fall is the comeback of the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. I will admit, I just bought a living social coupon for Sbux, but I was feeling too lazy to go out. Today I ventured to make a pumpkin spice latte at home. I made one last fall that was literally to die for, but I was unable to find the same recipe. If you look on Pinterest or just Google pumpkin spice latte, a ton of results come up. I didn't really know where to start, but I thought this one sounded good. I altered the original recipe. My recipe is below.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 1/4 cup milk (I use vanilla almond milk)
1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin puree (I use canned)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 shots of strong coffee (I used Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice coffee!)

1. Mix all the ingredients but the coffee together in a sauce pan. Bring to hot but not boiling, mixing often.
2. Brew coffee stronger than normal to create an espresso shot (of if you have an espresso machine, use it).
3. Put pumpkin milk mixture into blender (This idea is from the original recipe: worked amazingly!). Froth the milk mixture well.
4. Put the coffee shots in a large cup and pour the milk mixture over it.
5. Enjoy!

As you can see if you looked at the original recipe, my recipe uses all the same ingredients, just different measurements. The original says it makes "1-2 servings." This was confusing to me. Does it make one or two?! I was worried I would make too much if I followed the original measurements, so that's why I altered them. What I came up with was a mug full to the top of latte. Just one serving, just the way I like it.

I'm also not nuts about vanilla in things, so I chose to use less than the original recipe. Overall, it was really good - better than I was expecting, but it still wasn't the one I found last fall! I'll have to keep searching for that recipe. I put some pumpkin pie spice on the top for a nice "latte look" but I would strongly recommend not doing that. It made my latte gritty and I felt like the spices were getting stuck in my throat, whereas it was not like that at all before I put the spices on top.

Frothing the milk mixture in the blender is such a good idea! I had foamy goodness on the top just like you get at Starbucks. I will definitely be using that technique with future lattes. I'll probably try a few more pumpkin spice latte recipes before I decide on the perfect one, but for now, this one will do for my afternoon read :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Ask

Early on a chilly January morning this year, I went to church, probably excited about a new year and the new beginnings that would take place. I'm sure my brain was dreaming up New Year's resolutions for myself - all the books I wanted to read, all the time I wanted to spend exercising - the usual. However, my church had their own form of New Year's resolutions that they invited us to join in, which they called The Ask. The Ask ended up being my New Year's resolution from God. The Ask transformed my life, my year, and has been the best "New Year's resolution" that I've ever made or rather, accepted. 

The Ask 

The Ask is a simple but novel concept. The main idea is "If you could ask God of anything, what would you ask?" and furthermore, "Why aren't you asking Him of it (oh, you of little faith)?" The basic premise was to pray about what we should ask God for in the 2012 year, then commit to what we are asking for, and then to ask by "prayer and petition" all year until that prayer is answered. Members of the church were handed a card with James 4:2 printed on it (pictured above), which reads " do not have, because you do not ask God." This verse is the core of the The Ask. Why do we continually struggle with issues when we could ask God to change us? Why do we hope for things that we are not even asking God for? Ultimately, the question comes down to "Why is your faith so small?" 

Along with our personal "ask," the church was also asking for 500 new members of the church, many of which they desired to be brand new Christians, experiencing Christ for the first time in their lives. My church asked big because the members' faith is big. The church encouraged me to ask big of God as well. And that's just what I did. 

My "Ask" 

I knew right away what God was urging me to ask for in 2012. It didn't take long for me to fill out the portion of the card that read "What I'm asking God for in 2012." Quickly, I wrote to be set free from anxiety and worry. Worry seems to have plagued me for most of my life. Before being confronted with The Ask, I had let my worry and anxiety get the best of me most of the time, and it was only getting worse. Days that could have been happy were ruined by anxiety sapping it away. I had been praying for my worry to go away, but that's not at all how God wanted my worry to go away. The Ask brought me to a struggle that I could no longer let continue in my life. Worry and anxiety was ruining all my chances to experience the freedom that God actually intends for us. 

And so, I asked... 

Actually asking God for my "ask" was not hard at first. I was inspired, and I continued to pray the same way I had before. At first, it seemed like I was asking God to remove worry, as if it were some thing in my life. Just take it away, Lord! But praying about worry to just magically go away and to instantly have such great faith in God that I don't ever worry is honestly just a wasted prayer to me now. It requires a lot more prayer and a lot more change than a single "make it happen" prayer like that. I've found out that God is actually not a magician as I had once hoped. He does not have a magic wand. God is not Merlin. God is God and He works all things together for our good (even when it doesn't seem "good" at the time). God is so much bigger than a magician and has so much more in store for me than I ever seem to think. 

I had to ask a lot more than to "please be free from anxiety and worry." I was urged to dive in deeper, a lot deeper. And that's why I'm writing about this in the first place. I am knee deep (maybe even neck deep) in dealing with my worry/anxiety with God on my side. I am not alone in this fight against my sin (because, yes, worry is a sin as it means I'm doubting God). God has pushed me to face what causes my worry and anxiety, to see what lies I am believing that inhibit my faith and growth, and to be completely and honestly known by Him. And let me tell you - all that is not what I had in mind when I first asked God for freedom. I wasn't asking Him to bring up all the baggage I didn't even know was still hanging around. I didn't ask to deal with difficult thoughts and habits. But this is God's way of freeing me from worry. It's the hard way, but it's the only way that will deliver lasting results. 

A Picture of Freedom 

As it's been mentioned in my church circles, God doesn't set us free from things magically and instantly. God doesn't leap to action and fix it all every time we pray. But why? He certainly has the power to, so why are we left waiting? I fully believe that it is because "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). I love that verse because it's a reminder that whatever God is bringing me through now is for my good. He is never, ever out to hurt me. 

It's been hard to keep asking, to keep pursuing God when things get "hard." I get tired and lose sight of what I'm working toward. It's hard to keep bringing myself to Him, knowing I must change and that change requires work, and time, and isn't usually easy. But the work is so rewarding. To be set free from what binds me? Nothing is more valuable than that! A day without worry? That's a day of pure happiness to me. 

Some practical ways that God has been at work in my life, answering my "ask" include: 
  • obviously, reduced anxiety and worry 
  • my eyes opened to tons of things I didn't even know were inhibiting me spiritually and mentally 
  • understanding triggers for my anxiety and worry and how to avoid or combat those triggers (with scripture or altering my attitude)
  • an awesome community to help push me to keep pursuing God 
  • I was called to read the book Breaking Free by Beth Moore, all about being free from our strongholds, with some girlfriends. It was an amazing experience! I would not be where I am now without the help of this book. 
  • an amazing, encouraging church community that constantly pushes to get rid of idols 
  • sitting down and taking the time to truly deal with my sin with God by praying, journaling, and listening to His voice 
I've learned that God truly wants to and is setting me free from worry and anxiety one baby step at a time. I have had to learn to pray and ask God with a believing heart instead of a doubting one. I've learned that this "ask" takes valuable time that will produce valuable results. My faith has grown in ways I never could have predicted, and yet it's still no where near perfect. I've learned that progress does not look like a line graph, always going up and up, but that progress ebbs and flows like an ocean. I've ultimately realized that since things are going to go up and down in this ocean of life anyway, I might as well cling to the buoy that is God instead of insist on drowning. 

If you could ask God for anything, what would you ask for? 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lies about Perfection: the Truth Behind Material Goods & Self Image

Lies We Believe 

For a long time, I believed that being a perfectionist was a really good thing. I believed that aiming for perfect and nothing less was the only way that I could get what I wanted or achieve anything. Society only fueled my beliefs about perfection. We are fed lies every day about how to live and what things "should" be like. I've come to understand that society (advertising, media, social networking, retail stores, movies, TV, etc.) cons us all into three simple lies that fuel the desire for perfection and specifically, the desire for stuff. These lies are... 

If the shoe fits, buy the whole store?
1. More: Society tells us that we always need more. More things: shoes, bags, clothes. More friends (Facebook, anyone?). More aspirations. More food. More fun. There's a constant bombardment of images and advertising that drives us to think that 1) we need more and 2) that more has to be better. 

2. Better: Not only do we need more stuff, we need it to be better. More and better go hand in hand because if we already have one thing, we need the next one to be a better one. Why do you think brand names are so popular? Because we believe the lie that they're better than other brands. Stuff aside, we're told that we need to be better. Better than others. Better people in general. Better than the Jones'. (Image credit)

3. Different: The last lie that we're conned into is believing that different is good and necessary too. What we have - if it's still the same - is not good enough. But different is. You have a lot of stuff? Well, now you need different stuff! This concept is similar to comparisons. Think about it this way. Have you ever opened a magazine and thought "Why doesn't my house look like that? I wish it looked as perfect as it did in this catalog?" (Gee, I think this only every time I open Pottery Barn!) And that magazine is doing it's job of making you think that if only things in your life were different than they are now, you'd be happy. 

The Perfect Perfectionist 

As I was saying, I used to view perfection as good. After all, all these lies tell us that perfection is what we should be aiming for, that perfect is a good thing. Perfection is completely glorified by society. I used to put all these lies into action in my life, and heck, I still do at times. Sometimes I feel as though we are wired to want more, better, and different things. What we have, can it ever be enough? But once I saw the truth behind these lies, I realized how empty perfection really becomes.

Constantly striving for more leaves you empty because, truthfully, when will it be enough? I know some women who would argue that they can "never have enough shoes" (or really, anything. Fill in the blank. Purses, lipstick, sunglasses?). But as with the picture above, when is it enough? Could you ever look at a fantastic shoe closet like that of the picture and think, "It is finished." No, you never really could. You could pretend to be content for a while. But then, you'd see another great pair of shoes and think you need it. There's always more stuff to be had, and as long the lie is believed,  we will desire more.

Body Perfection

These lies are actually only a few of many, many deep rooted lies that we believe every day. Another lie that I personally believed for a long time was that I had to look perfect. What woman doesn't believe this lie? Every magazine or image of women in the media is portraying a perfected version of women. Airbrushed skin, tons of make up, smiling and happy, thin. And then, images of women who are not perfect are highly criticized (Inquirer with cellulite-laden celebs on it ring a bell?) Everything about the modern world screams for women to be thin, done up, and perfect-looking. Every cover of a woman's magazine targets weight, fashion, trends, and fitness. Whether or not you realize how big of an impact media has on body image and this whole perfection nonsense altogether, media drives a huge portion of what we end up believing. I could go on about body image perfection (and, I probably should in another post), but I'll leave it at that for now.

All in all, I've realized that perfection is indeed a double-edged sword. The idea of perfect is inherently good until it becomes a weapon of lies used against us to keep us from being satisfied.

What lies do you feel you're believing in? Is our current world's desires and trends keeping us from being happy?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

For the love of Blog

Time goes by, the coffee gets cold, the weather changes, and before I know it... I've forgotten about my blog. The other day, I was at a friend's Labor Day barbecue when someone actually asked me about my blog in conversation. Wait, what? You know about my blog?! I thought. It was a first for me. And yet, it sadly came as a surprise that, yes, people are reading this sentence right now. It's on the internet after all! I responded by saying, "Oh yeah, I kind of blog... only about once a week, though." And my husband immediately popped up and said, "Once a week! That's still a big deal!" And he's right.

In my heart, I have high hopes. I know I want to write for a living. I know I want to wake up every day and do something I am passionate about. I know I don't want to write memos and copy letters for some boring company, if I could even get into writing. And I don't want to settle for something other than my dreams. My dream is to write, but yet here is my writing, for all to see, like it's a reality... And maybe if I just worked on that dream, it would start to feel like reality to me instead of like a failed high school science experiment, exploding in my face every time it doesn't feel perfect.

There are so many other successful bloggers out there. I have bookmarked nearly 50 blogs recently, with the intent of studying their posts, their content, their layout and design, all in order to get ideas for my blog, and to see how they became successful. But in the midst of this looking and yearning to learn, I become discouraged like the perfectionist I am. How can I ever get there? Having that kind of blog is sooo far away for me right now. Or is it?

For the love of my blog, I hope to actually make Freeing Imperfections a home for my writing. This isn't just a home for nothing, a space taken up for my entertainment. It's my blog. Anyone with a successful blog certainly loves their blog, right? So why am I not loving mine?

Well, here's a few reasons...

- I over-think my audience. Too often I think, does someone really want to read that?

- I under-post. This is directly correlated with over-thinking my audience. I convince myself no one will want to read it, so I don't even attempt to write anything at all, leaving me with one blog post a week - not truly enough to drive traffic.

- I'm afraid. I'm afraid of revealing too much of myself on the internet. I'm afraid of making a wrong step. It's a scary world out there.

- I've drastically reduced the time I spend on the internet recently. Too often, I find my time being wasted on Facebook and Pinterest. While I am still pretty addicted to Pinterest when I allow myself to be on it, I am slowly gravitating away from the computer to use my time better. But the only way to blog is at the computer!

Overall, I just want to say that I do love my blog. This is my place to write, to feel free, to be creative, to find meaning... And now's the time to own up to doing what I love most: writing! Here's to more blog posts and a better attitude about blogging in general!

Fellow bloggers, can you relate to any of this? What is keeping you from blogging the way you want or having the blog you want?

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