Monday, November 29, 2010

I Love You, Neuroscience!

For the past few days I have searched the Internet for nerdy, cogsci-related pickup lines. I SWEAR it's not because I have a 4k word paper due on Friday, a lab due, a stats writeup, a midterm Wednesday, and quiz tomorrow. That CAN'T be it, right? Hah.

Disclaimer: I came up with NONE of these. 

If I were a neurotransmitter, I would be dopamine so I could activate your reward pathway.

My hypothalamus must be secreting serotonin because baby, I want you!

Hey baby, want to form a synapse with me and exchange neurotransmitters?

If I were a Shwann cell, I'd squeeze areound your axon and give you a fast action potential.

If you were a concentration gradient I'd go down on you.

You must be the one for me, since my selectively permeable membrane let you through.

Hey baby, why don’t we instantiate a new Love object and pass in ourselves as the parameters.

Just being around you sets my synapses on fire.

Before I can commit to this relationship, I need you to declare your variables.

I checked your syntax and found no errors. Wanna go compile?

Baby, if they made you in Java, you’d be the object of my desire.

Why don’t we use some Fourier analysis on our relationship and reduce to a series of simple periodic functions

You just made me cross the action potential threshold...

I'd bind to your active site.

I think we should use an re-uptake inhibitor..

Let my ligand bind your G protein... I swear, you'll experience a cascade of reactions.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What a Rush..

...of gratitude! Happy Thanksgiving! I know I'm a little late, but that's okay. My mom was an angel: she created a 80-90% gluten-free feast and it all tasted so delicious! No one, not even my glutenivore family members, felt deprived! Bless her, she also created a vast array of healthy dishes that were fantastic and left us feeling content but not too full! 

Last Thanksgiving, I ran my 10K PR, which is around 56 minutes. Considering this was my first sanctioned 10K, not too shabby! This year, I was reminiscing about how much things have changed. I have yet to work up to a marked 10K, but I'm so grateful that I can be out and running without pain, and without fear! Today I just...went. I'm such a little principessa sometimes though, it's not THAT cold at home but I still went out in full underarmour! I just was one of those days when I just couldn't get comfortable in my shoes, so I ran from my mom's to my dad's with major shinsplints, stopping to retie them. It was casual and I have no clue how far I ran, or how long I was gone. No pressure, no worries, just some mechanical foot turnover and life was good! When I got back I did another twenty-minute vinyasa video to help with mindfulness. As I sat there in savasana, I felt so much gratitude rush into me: for my family, my health, my home, and life :) 

Happy Holidays from the Bay Area!

And of course...
Tuolomne Falls, I think. Near Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp.
If you haven't noticed, I'm obsessed with these pictures. They remind me that nature has such beauty, such simplicity, yet such perfection<3

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Camping: How to do it Gluten-Free Part 2

Well hello again. Back to the pressing topic of how to camp gluten-free. Unless you are allergic to bright stars and clean air, and if so I don't judge, sooner or later you're going to have to figure out how to do this. I would have posted this yesterday, but I had linear and nonlinear curve fitting code to write in MATLAB. So I'm going to assume we can all move on, yes? Yes. So here it is...

How to Continue to Survive a Week of Camping and Hiking Without Major Health Meltdowns:
(keeps getting catchier, I know...)
  1. Check, doublecheck, and triplecheck labels. Tuolomne had a great little general store: they had gear, maps, souvenirs, food, you name it. This was great: if you ran out of something mid-trip, or forgot to pack it, you could grab it there! But I have to warn you: you MUST check labels. Camping is supposed to be low-maintenance, not a banquet catered by specialty grocers. There is no "gluten-free" section. Still check, even if on the off chance the product is labeled gluten-free. I got lucky and found some rice chips that I still really enjoy, labeled and everything, but this is rare. You may look funny examining every ingredient list, but if something is wrong, it is YOUR digestive system in the woods and in the small, enclosed living space. 
    1. Be careful, gluten-free and wheat-free are two different things! Especially beware the word malt. Malt comes from barley, which is not wheat, but contains gluten. Malt is used in CLIF bars, Luna Bars, and a lot of other products. Will wheat always be on the ingredient list? No. Will this fool your digestive system? No. Will you have a very uncomfortable experience? YES. 
  2. Hold the bun. Here's a secret: burgers and sandwiches can be put on lettuce. You can either ask specifically for this, or just ask for no bun. With all the low-carb diets out there & your credit card in your hand, cashiers usually won't ask questions. It's economically sound as well. They don't waste the bun, which means they don't waste the money. 
  3. Just Ask. Restaurants are always tricky. This usually won't be a problem, but if you have a lodge or local hotspot, like the Tioga grill, you have to be smart about it. 
    1. Let them know what you can't eat. I asked a waitress about wild rice one night, saying, "You're going to hate me, but is there any form of wheat, barley, rye, spelt, or kamut in this?" She was a sweetheart: "You mean like, gluten?" Yes, that's exactly what I mean. She didn't hate me at all, and mentioned that a manager had Celiac so they were very aware of their ingredients. Wild rice did in fact have barley, so when she brought out the dish I actually ordered, she told me that she asked the chef and it was gluten-free! Except the two pieces of bread on top, to which she replied, "OH MY! The chef does that out of habit! I'm so sorry!" She went back and told the chef, who was horrified. Waiters and waitresses will  accomodate you if you're polite about it: they don't want a health meltdown any more than you do! And don't skimp on the tip, either.
    2. In the town of Lee Vining, right outside of the park, there is a Mobil Station. Yes, a gas station. In this gas station, there is a restaurant. Not a dingy little hot dog heater, a restaurant. Live music on Thursday nights, I think. When I asked if there was any flour in a certain dish, the cashier said no, but the cook asked me specifically if I was asking about gluten. Affirmative. Nope, can't have those! But he then listed the dishes that were safe for me to eat. Just be nice about your needs, and no one will have a problem accomodating you! I ended up with a salmon salad pictured above. Gorgey, isn't it? And it was devoured...

So there you have it...camping a la Courtney. I think the major lesson learned here is that you can still eat S'mores. Oh yes.

I built a cairn! Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp hike.
Yes, that's my shadow. Photography isn't my major skill...or any skill.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Um hi,

I may or may not be the girl that eats all the chocolate chips out of the trail mix and ends up with a bag of everything else.

I almost suggested that they should make trail mix just for that girl, but they do, it's called a bag of chocolate chips. Hah.

I'm in a jazzy sort of mood :)

...And a twenty minute free Vinyasa download from was JUST what I needed today.

Camping: How to do it Gluten-Free Part 1

Over the summer, my cousin & I went up to Tuolomne Meadows for a week. This was a true test: I had gorgey new hiking boots and a body that hadn't been put through serious exercise (aside from running around after campers) in months. And I was stoked. Naturally, I didn't want to be the girl in the group with major digestive distress, or the high-maintenance girl that sits there moping about what she can and can't eat while everyone makes s'mores. Because really, who wants to be in a tent (or tentcabin, I'm really not the most woodsy person) with THAT girl? Please.

There's only one rule when it comes to pulling off a feat like this. Have a sense of humor! Really, you're going to be among pb&j sandwiches, CLIF bars, graham crackers, hot dog and hamburger buns, and probably a million pounds of crackers. You might as well take it in stride! 

How to Survive a Week of Camping and Hiking Without Major Health Meltdowns:
(catchy title, right? I thought so.)
  1. Explain your situation ahead of time. I told my aunt and my cousin my situation, and that I would be bringing my own specialty items, about a week before the trip. This let them pack for themselves and not have to worry about what I would like or wouldn't be able to eat. I ate my food, they ate theirs. Simple, and they don't go broke trying to accomodate me!
  2. Load up on fruits and vegetables! This one was huge, because fruits and vegetables are my body's favorite, and they bulked up every meal! Salads, check. Fruit in my cereal, check. Quick sugars, check. Easy side dishes, check. Do itttt.
  3. BYOFF. Bring Your Own Freak Food (I mean freak in the most loving way, as I'm referring to my own diet). Want to enjoy s'mores? Bring your own graham crackers. Need trail food? Stock up on GF energy bars. I took NUGO Free bars, which I wasn't too impressed with. The tastes were good; I tried the carrot cake and dark chocolate varieties, but the texture didn't suit. Too chewy, too rice-krispy treat-y, but soggy if that makes sense. I guess I should have spent more time planning that part out.
    1. Cereal, Bread, and Graham Crackers: I took gluten-free cereal with me: Nature's Path Crunch Vanilla Sunrise. Definitely a winner, but I don't eat cereal often. In terms of bread, I took millet and LOVED it (thank you Fitnessista!). Tasted rather like a scone, and scones are my ultimate weakness! Finally, the crucial parts. S'more ingredients. I searched Whole Paycheck long and hard, and ended up settling on Healthy Valley Rice Bran Crackers. Not graham-y, really, but they did the trick and I adored the taste! I could have made my own, a la Lauren, but I didn't have the time or the ingredients on hand. Oh well, next time!
  4. Go Anti-OPF. Unless you can be certain that what you are offered is gluten-free, stay away from Other People's Food. Exceptions: fruits, vegetables, water, most chocolate. It just makes things a lot easier.
Since this is definitely a lot of information to handle at once, I'm going to cut it here and come back later with a Part 2! Happy Tuesday? Sleepless nights are no fun :(
Elizabeth Lake, where the fish are so excited that they jump at you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Here's to Life...

Let's just live, laugh, love, and marvel.
May Lake, Tuolumne Meadows.
We don't need anything more.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Freak Food CAN Taste Good!

It's autumn. Well, in case I needed an excuse. Of all the recipes I try out, it's about time I posted more of them! Chili will come later...when I finish licking my spoon of course! Anyway, I thought a little pumpkin loving might be appropriate. Finding a good recipe took a nice long time, but I finally settled on one and couldn't be more satisfied...I think I even used this recipe last time, but didn't add xantham gum. Oops. Delish, but crumbly. This time, NEVER FEAR! Like you would, really. Anyway, I adapted this recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies, and ohhh my, they were wonderful!
ALLLLL credit goes to Jamie from My Baking Addiction! Thank youuu!

My changes:

  • Added WAYYY more cinnamon than was called for (um, duh, it's me)
  • Used all light brown sugar (but left off 1/4 cup)
  • Melted the butter and mixed everything at once
  • Omitted the pecans
  • Um, MADE IT GLUTEN FREE? Oh yeah, that. I swear, sometimes I feel like taking a sharpie into the supermarket, crossing out the 100% whole wheat, & replacing it with 100% POISON. I won't, I promise. Look out though, San Diego. 
    • I used Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Flour. My apartment-mate bought it without realizing what it was, and I'm stoked.
    • The flour wasn't measured too carefully though...
  • Added a heaping 1/4 TSP of xanthan gum
  • Dumped a full bag of semi-sweet, not dark, chocolate chips. I live on campus, no specialty chips...
I wanted to take pictures, I swear. Well, no, I didn't, by the time I remembered:
Oops! Just kidding, I cut them up and shoved them in the freezer after snacking on a couple. I'm not the best food photographer, as my camera is from my freshman year in high school (seven years ago, I'm OLD). But here's a pretty shot of the blondies in the saran wrap?