I was just telling my good friend Jonathan a few weeks ago that I tend to only blog when I’m stressed out. This, readers, is one of those times. But since this is a public blog and I’m pre-tenure, I’m not going to go into many details about what particular incident has been the source of my stress lately. Instead, I’ll just passively-aggressively throw in a few links here and there that were published in public news outlets for you to do some research and find out for yourself.
Needless to say, it’s been a tense week around campus. It’s been especially hard to focus. And, this time of year is usually tense anyway, what with the time change freaking people out, the holidays sneaking up on us, and the building end-of-year, ohmygod-are-there-really-only-4-weeks-left-in-this-semester sort of anxieties.
A constant struggle with just about everyone I know is how to best handle stress, especially the sort of overwhelming stress that strikes at the most inopportune times. We all have different coping strategies, and mine have varied from walking the UNA track or going to Casa Mexicana (I remember when Karen figured out that we could eat an entire dinner of flour tortillas, salsa and cheese dip for $3! It was stellar), to visiting Bodega, to Britney Spears movies and a glass of (A50 style) wine. However, lately, I’ve had to come up with healthier (and, true to form, much more intense and Type A) stress management techniques. Over the past week, I’ve done the following to help me cope:
* Thrown myself into research and writing for my book, spending a couple of hours every day thematically analyzing newspapers from the mid 1930s
* Ran my fastest 5K ever, going into the race with no training whatsoever (turns out, I do run faster when chased – so, thanks, Shaun)
*Did a 5 mile trail run/ really hard spin class brick workout
*Swam – hard – multiple times, focusing on stroke drills and kicking as hard as I could (angry swimming might be a good way to describe it)
*Came up with a creative new frittata recipe
*Eaten. A lot. I am a stress eater.
The only thing left to do to that usually helps me reduce stress is: this. Blogging. A little creative writing tends to go a long way with me, so I’m crossing my fingers that writing all of this down and sharing it with you will serve as a little cathartic relief and help me get ready to focus in on a long night of grading and paper editing.
If not, well, maybe I can go run around the block, then FaceTime with someone I love while eating some cheese dip, watching a really crappy movie (she’s not a girl, but not yet a woman…) and drinking something yummy, as a measure of last resort.
I’m rambling. On with the recipe.
Inspired by a snack Chris was telling me about today, I decided that I needed to make some chocolate-covered almonds. I found this delightful little recipe that I followed almost perfectly: I ran out of almonds, and decided to throw in some walnuts to the mix. The result was fantastic. This with a delightful homemade iced coffee with soy milk was just the pick-me-up I needed this afternoon. This sort of snack is what I like to call “brain food.” Whenever I’m writing or doing something that requires a lot of mental energy, I like to have something around that I can eat. It really does help me think. Almonds and walnuts are a great snack for that purpose – they’re full of protein, which is what I always look for in a snack, as you’ll feel fuller faster and have more energy without the dreaded sugar crash that I tend to get when my snack is something like a big handful of Reese’s peanut butter cups or a spoonful of Nutella.
Judge me if you must.
Cinnamon-Cocoa Almonds and Walnuts
Place 2 tablespoons cocoa, some cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt in a quart-sized Ziploc bag. In a small saucepan, heat up about a teaspoon of honey and a dash of vanilla extract. You sort of want to just melt the honey so it can coat the 1 cup (total) of almonds & walnuts (or whatever other nuts you have; anything really would work here) you’ll add to the pan when the honey is melted. Once the nuts are coated with the honey and vanilla, toss them in the bag with the cocoa mixture. Seal the bag, and shake to coat the nuts.
Store in an airtight container and enjoy!