Give Your Brain a Workout (Recipe: Ina’s Blondies)

Moving your body is one of the best things you can do for your brain.

When you exercise, your heart pumps oxygen and nutrients to your brain cells, and your body produces chemicals that stimulate the brain cells to sprout branches and communicate more effectively. The effects can be both instantaneous and long-term.

A study analysis published in 2013 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 10 to 40 minutes of exercise among preteens, teens, and young adults was associated with better cognitive function immediately afterward, which researchers attribute in part to the increased blood flow to the brain.

Another study at the University of British Columbia in 2013 found that women between 70 and 80 years old with mild cognitive decline showed a 4% increase in their hippocampal volume after six months of walking briskly for 40 minutes twice a week.

Get exercising!

So, after our amazing trip to Yosemite, A and I drove back to San Francisco for some more of the touristy stuff he has done a million times. We were one of the first people at the Muir Woods. I’m so glad we got there when we did because everything was so serene and peaceful. By the time we left, there were children running around everywhere screaming and crying. The size of the redwoods are just amazing!

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We then drove to the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge to take pictures! It was crazy windy out! But it was really neat to be able to see the bridge from both sides!

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After seeing the bridge we drove to Point Reyes! We had a picnic lunch on the beach and then walked down over 300 stairs to the lighthouse which was tiring but worth it! (I love lighthouses!)

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After that we drove back to A’s aunt and uncle’s house where they were throwing a family party for us! I got to meet a lot of A’s aunts, uncles, and cousins who live in the SF area. It was a really fun get-together. 🙂

1 year ago: A New PR and 3rd in My Age Group at the Triad 10-Miler! (Recipe: St. James Coffee Cake)

Quote of the Day:

“No matter how slow you’re going, you are still lapping everyone on the couch!”                             -Anonymous

So, when Sam came to visit I wanted to have a surprise dessert waiting for her. She loves banana bread so that was the plan. We bought extra bananas at the grocery store. We let them ripen all week. Then it was time to make the bread. Being the multi-tasker that I am, I was doing a million things at once–making the bread, cleaning, blogging, etc. I put the bread in the oven and went on about my business. Well, I came back down to check on it and thought to myself, “It’s not browning all that well. Interesting.” Now, this is a recipe I have made several times, so I knew it should be browning. I was on my way back upstairs to fold laundry when it hit me–I didn’t put in any leavening agents! Ugh! Amateur move! How could I forget leavening agents!? But I did. Needless to say, the bread went into the garbage. The next night I made these blondies for her. I must say…they were delicious.

Ina Blondies

Ina’s Blondies


  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups chopped walnuts
  • 1¼ pounds semisweet chocolate chunks


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 ½ x 12 x 2-inch baking pan.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • With the mixer on low, add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl after each addition. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks with a rubber spatula.
  • Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake! The toothpick may have melted chocolate on it but it shouldn’t have wet batter. Cool completely in the pan and cut into 12 bars.

Courtesy of Ina Garten

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