Pineapple Coconut Larabar bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

It’s race season again – regardless of your sport. It happens every spring and like recent years, I’m feeling left out. It’s my own doing, of course, and I could definitely make running or cycling a priority, but right now, I’m not quite there. Sincerely, though, Cheers to those of you who are on it. I will get there, but I’ll be a few months behind and probably a bit late for the races and events (unless I hit some of the fabulous autumn ones, which is possible).

PCLB 5

Down the Tube

Since it’s race season, I want to share with you my (quasi) famous Pina Coloda Larabar bites. Erika even called me out once, so I’m finally making good on this. They are, of course, a knock off from the real deal, but if you really want to know, these are better. I’m not a fan of most real Larabars. They’re too sweet, too gummy, and too old. That whole packaging thing makes them darn convenient, but not as tasty as they should be.

Freeze-dried pineapple

Freeze-dried pineapple

For this, you’ll need an ingredient that can be a bit tricky to find, I admit. FREEZE-DRIED PINEAPPLE. But it’s worth looking, and I recommend some of the “food storage” websites. I found mine through Thrive when they did a gig at Costco, and no, I’m no affiliated with them at all. But you can also find them on Amazon, and check your local health food store. Everything else is usually found in a well-stocked whole-foods plant-based kitchen. I apparently really like dashes(-).

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

I rolled mine into balls. For photography’s sake, probably not my best bet since they look like meatballs, but for convenience’s sake, super handy. My kids love these, though I think they do find them a bit too sweet at times (no, my kids aren’t average),

Larabar Base - almond and dates

Larabar Base – almond and dates

These are Raw, Plant-based, and Gluten-Free if you use GF ingredients, which they should be. And they’re excellent training or race food.

the "Dough"

the “Dough”

Pineapple Coconut Larabars

1 1/3 c. pitted dates
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. freeze dried pineapple
¾ c. shredded unsweetened dried coconut
Water, as needed

Put everything in your food processor and let it rip, pulsing as needed. If, like mine, your dates are too dry, add just a little water (1T at a time) through the feed tube of your food processor to get it moving. It should ball up nicely and be super sticky. Either press into a well-oiled or parchment-lined 8×8 pan, or wet your hands and roll into balls. (I used my 1oz. scooper and these are a bit larger than I’d like.) Chill and cut into 1 ½” squares or transfer bites to an airtight container. Enjoy – they keep for awhile if you forget about them, but I don’t think you will.

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Why I Run

I am a runner.  I love the adrenaline, the challenge, the feeling of fit.  In the midst of the Olympics (how AWESOME is the human body at it’s peak!?!) I have spent time pondering the “whys” of exercise.  Granted, I was sitting lazily on the couch while Michael Phelps powered through the water, Gabby Douglas flew through the air with speed and agility, and the women marathoners finished at break-neck speeds.  But my brain was working really hard.  🙂

I may not be an Olympian.  Or even close to one at that.  I face my own challenges, follow my own training schedules, and push my body to it’s limits.  It’s not always easy.  Or pretty.  In fact, more often than not, I turn tomato red in the face and I’m pretty stinky when all is said and done.  Not to mention being sore post-workout.  SO WHY DO I RUN?

1)  HEALTH:  I feel so much better when I run!  I feel strong, light on my feet, and more energetic, like an improved version of me.  I bounce up and down the stairs, play more with my children and am more willing and eager to go enjoy the beautiful mountains that surround Salt Lake.  I can better meet the demands of daily life.  Cholesterol is great.  Blood pressure is better.  Weight is down.  Fantastic.

2)  THERAPY:  When I hit the road running, all I have is my ipod and the scenery giving me a perfect opportunity to clear my thoughts and refocus.  The longer the run the better.

3)  STRESS BUSTER:  When life gets intense, as it often does, I run.  There is no better way for me to burn off some steam and come home level headed.  When my middle child was 2, I was having a bit of a rough day when he looked up at me and said “Mommy exercise?”  Kids are so perceptive!

4)  OUTDOORS:  Running gets me outside!   Fresh air, sunshine, chirping birds, blooming flowers, fall leaves, crunchy snow, waving to neighbors, off road trails, scenic runs through the mountains or on the beach- the world is waiting for you to explore it, one step at a time.

5)  FRIENDSHIP:  Outings with my running besties are fabulous adventures- can’t even tell you how many giggle fits Somer and I have had.  A running buddy is a friend through and through, no conversation left unturned, the more miles the better.  And a true friend knows when to talk, when to listen to steady foot falls, and when to power on the music.  More running friends always welcome.

6)  CHALLENGE:  I love a good challenge.  A new obstacle to face, a new course, a new distance- just because I am a grown up doesn’t mean I should stay stagnant.  Sometimes running hurts.  Sometimes the last thing I want to do is hop out of bed early to run when my bed is so cozy.  By pushing through those tough moments I become stronger mentally and in the long run, physically.

7)  MEMORIES:  Call me crazy, but some of my fondest memories have been while running!  Running in pouring rain (talk about cleansing!), running under the full moon, the silence of running on fresh snow at 6am when most of the world is still curled up in bed and sounds are dampened, taking my boys on a 5k run with Holi festival chalk exploding in the air, wildlife sightings, and visiting with cherished running friends as the miles melt away…  All of these moments are close to my heart, beautiful memories I can’t wait to make more of.

Take it from me, running rocks!
Get off the couch today, it is SO worth it.

PS- I haven’t always been able to run.  After my 2nd baby I found myself horribly out of shape and 65 lbs over my goal weight.  I huffed and puffed only walking a mile.  I was depressed and tired and just plain sick of being depressed and tired.  On my next mile walk I ran one block.  Then two the day after.  Little by little, block by block, I built up my miles and dropped the pounds.  You can do it to.  You are worth it.

And finally, a giveaway.  My all time favorite pre-workout energizer!  No synthetic sweeteners, natural vegan ingredients.  And just plain awesome.

Rules of Engagement:

1- You must be a follower of this blog, if you don’t know how to do that, there is a “Follow blog via email” button at the top column to the right. This contest is open to all followers, ALL AROUND THE WORLD. Can you feel the love? 

2- You must like this post (click on the title name of this post, then go to the bottom of the post just above comments and push the like button), 

3- You must tell me in the comments below what keeps you moving!

Giveaway ends Monday, August 13.

Ragnar Recap

IT WAS AWESOME.  I had been down due to knee injury/fibromyalgia  for 3 weeks and pretty nervous about whether I would be able to do my 19.6 miles.  Especially on a grain free vegan diet.  Let it be known, it can be done.  Two weeks of intensive health focus, hyperbaric oxygen and FSM treatment worked magic.  I felt like a caged animal finally let free- I hit the road running!

The first 6.8 mile leg I was driven, powered through it at a great pace for me and felt amazing.  The middle 4.8 I was wary, nervous for the run ahead and careful not to push it too hard.  Not to worry, it was a lovely run at dusk through a small town where all the residents lined the road to watch the crazy runners go by, cheer us on, spray us with squirt guns to beat the heat and enjoy the excitement in a generally quiet area.

Our crew in van 1 was a great group to be with- fun loving, friendly, caring.  Riotous good times with Natalie at the shower tent which repeatedly threatened to blow away as 4 men held it down and I tried to keep from squealing when the ice cold hose water hit.  I reminded the male volunteers that I had 3 kids and there wasn’t anything they wanted to see.  It was good for some chuckles.  Cheering people on from the back of the pick up with Somer was another highlight- SO MUCH FUN.  Running BFFs forever.

After 3 hours of sleep and only fruits, veggies and nuts to give me strength I was wary of my final and most challenging run.  7.8 around the Jordanelle Reservoir, not exactly flat terrain.  My knees ached, my body ached, and I was so tired I kept falling asleep in the car (that rarely happens- I am not a car sleeper.)  I broke out a banana, almond butter, Amanda’s famed larabar and my lemon lime VegaSport.

Then I gathered up my gear- no van support on this one- water, music, larabar just in case I run out of steam, and inhaler (which I miraculously only had to use once, drastic improvement from the years before.)  Next step, mental focus.  I knew I didn’t have it in me to push hard and power through.  I needed a higher purpose, something to lift me rather than drain me.

*Light bulb moment* My goal would be to make everyone smile as I pass or as they pass me.  To offer words of encouragement and praise.  To enjoy the scenery and my time in the mountains.  It felt promising.  So I did just that.  “Good job!  Looking strong!  You can do it!  Keep it up!”  A smile.  A hoot and a holler.  It was THE BEST RUN of my life.  I have found my place in the running world- to lift people up and lighten their feet.  To see the smile of appreciation and hope.  Funny thing was, I actually cruised at a great pace and 7.8 flew by because I was having such a great time.

In a nutshell, I highly recommend it to all.  Young and old.  Fit and not.  Athlete and recovering couch potato.  A great time for all (and no, not everyone has to do 19.4, some runners only have 13 miles total.)  Hope to see you on the road!

Tasty Tuesday Series: Ragnar Recovery (Fruited Nut Rolls)

So I’m back at home, rested and over the Cafe Rio fiasco. I’ve been drinking recovery green smoothies with maca like a fool and downing shots of wheat grass like it’s nobody’s business.

Erika and I at the finish line

Race Lowlights:

Using Honey Buckets for more than 30 hours straight

Getting the ‘runs’ during my 9 mile unsupported downhill mountain leg due to a questionable coconut water beverage I consumed at the first exchange. Let’s just say I was grateful for some bushes to offer cover and that what I used to ahem, clean myself, was NOT poison ivy

Having to have Steve take over for the last 3 miles of said above downhill leg because I couldn’t finish it

Telling Erika gleefully that we were having whole grain waffles for breakfast then remembering she is on a grain restricted diet for another week. Sorry!

Race Highlights:

Hanging out with some of my very best friends while running through some of the most beautiful terrain ever, what could be more fun than that?

Christina getting interviewed by local news while wearing her light up Medusa hairdo

The dude that kept flashing his nipple at us while running as Erika and I made catcalls out to him out of the back of the truck

Finishing with no black toenails and no vomiting

Eating Amanda’s giant homemade Larabar

Sleeping at Steve’s Cabin for a few hours and eating Sue’s spaghetti dinner she makes every year

Eating Oreo’s for the first time in months, because, hey they’re vegan and junk food at Ragnar once a year won’t kill me

Not being crazy sore or stiff after the race (thank’s plant-based diet!)

These Carb-Load Rolls I make every year for Ragnar (sorry, we ate them, no photos)

Ragnar Carb-Load Fruited Nut Rolls

Ingredients: 2 C. white whole wheat flour, 2 C. unbleached organic flour, 2 C. rolled oats, 1/4 C. vital wheat gluten, 2.5 c. warm soymilk, 1 T. coconut oil, 1/2 C. dried blueberries, 1/2 C. dried cranberries, 1/2 C. dried zante currants, 1 C. chopped pecans, 1/4 C. agave, 1 t. cinnamon, 1.5 T. heaped active dry yeast and 1 T. salt. Method: Combine all ingredients in kneading apparatus (I use my bread-maker) and let knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Remove dough, divide into 24 pieces. Place side by side on a large cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place for about an hour. Rolls should be touching. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

More photos and details coming on Somer Saturday

Somer Saturday – Out Running Ragnar

It’s Somer Saturday and I’m running the Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back with some of my best friends. Here are some photos from last year’s Ragnar for you to enjoy until I post again on Tuesday. For those of you wondering, “What the heck is a Ragnar?” Read this post and be enlightened.

Do you Ragnar?

Tasty Tuesday Series – Ragnar on the Brain (Ragnar Trail Mix)

It’s Tasty Tuesday and while I’m eating lots of tasty foods, I have Ragnar, packing, planning and nervousness on the brain and I can’t focus long enough to take photos or give you any real recipes. But I can offer you some running inspiration in the form of these books (in order of recommendation).

One of my all time favorite reads. Re-reading it right now, laughing my butt off and guzzling chia drinks like a Tarahumara. Radical.

Autobiography of my favorite Vegan super-athlete, Scott Jurek

 Plant Based eating’s newest superhero! I haven’t read this yet, but it arrived on my doorstep via Amazon this week. His name makes me laugh because I can’t think about it without thinking of the Rick Rolled sensation on youtube. Hehe.

And because I can’t really give you a Tasty Tuesday without a recipe, here is a vegan version of  Steve’s Tasty Trail Mix.

Steve’s Tasty Ragnar Trail Mix

Equal amounts vegan m&m’s, raisins and roasted salted cashews. I know, simple eh, but hey look at Steve, it works for him…..

Until Saturday then 😉

You say you can’t run, eh? LIAR PANTS ON FIRE

I want to say the same thing to people who tell me that they CAN’T change their diet or that they CAN’T lose weight. LIARS. Sorry, not really trying to be mean….. And it’s not something I tell people to their face, but hey, this is a blog AND I’ve been there and I did all of that. So if I can do it, you can too.

It’s Somer Saturday and I have a confession to make.

I’m not a good runner. Even more shocking: I used to hate running! I thought that those that could run belonged to some sort of privileged genetic gene pool. Then I gained 100 lbs because of health issues 5 years ago and needed to figure out how lose it. (Sorry, many of you have seen this photo before and it’s not pleasant).

I knew that running burned more calories than almost every other exercise so I grudgingly decided to give it a go.  I COULD NOT RUN FOR 5 MINUTES STRAIGHT the first time I tried, but I was determined to lose the weight so I persevered. It took me a whole month of trying 5 days a week before I could run a mile without stopping to walk.

Then something magical happened. I was able to run for 20 minutes, then 30, then 45. Eventually one day I ran for an hour. I thought, wow, maybe I can run a half marathon. Then three months later I did. And I ran the whole time.

Since then I have run up to 4 races a year, mostly half marathons and Ragnar Relays. Having a race on the schedule keeps me training. Although I have learned to love running, I don’t run anymore for weight maintenance, my whole-foods, plant-based diet takes care of that. I run for sanity. I found running to be an amazing form of therapy. When struggling through a trial of some sort, I can’t count the number of times I have shed tears during a run only to come home feeling whole. There is something therapeutic about pounding out the pavement or a trail mile after mile. Running is an incredible stress reliever, especially if you are able to get off main roads and get closer to nature.

I know lots of people who say they can’t run, or will only dabble occasionally in a 5k. Well since I can’t help being a missionary for the things I love the most (ahem, plant-based diet, I want to convert the world) I obviously try to encourage people to give it a go. My friends: Angie, Mandy, Shantelle, Heather, Michelle and Keri (there are others, but I think they would prefer not to be named) have all told me at one time or another that they can’t really run. I basically told them they were full of crap. All of these ladies have since gone on to run a half marathon or further. Some of them were even on my Ragnar Relay team last year.

All continue to run, and enjoy it. Dare I say that most of these girls are faster than me? (It’s true, I’m about a solid 10 minute pace, probably will always be because I don’t put enough effort into speed work). Now I know there are those of you who have really, really tried your hand at running, and it’s just not your thing – that’s okay! I’m all about yoga, spin, Pilates and strength training…..in addition to running. My friend Tyler is running his first half-marathon this weekend and has lost 50 lbs during the training process. Let that be motivation for you!

Here are some tips to help you if you want to get started:

1. Get out your dang Ipod and put together an awesome high energy playlist.  Here are some playlist ideas. Without music I’m sloppy and unmotivated, when I get the tunes going and I turn into the energizer bunny. Remember to keep it charged. There is nothing like being out at mile 5 on a 10 miler and having your ipod die!

2. Buy some real running clothes for every type of weather, wear synthetic socks and get fitted at a running store for real running shoes. Cotton chafes people. Ouch. You may also want to invest in some reflective gear and a headlamp so you don’t get hit by a car if you want to run before the sun comes up or after it goes down. If you have specific questions about gear, comment below, I have an obsession with running clothes/tech items and can probably answer any question you might have 😉

3. Start slow, running does not mean sprinting, although that’s sometimes fun too, especially into a finish line. In the beginning do lots of walk-running and gradually increase the running part. Don’t increase your mileage more then 10% a week or you will get injured and stop liking running.

4. Get outdoors. Treadmill is how I started running, now I can hardly stand it. Going somewhere while you are running helps you feel more human and less guinea pig. It also connects you to the earth.

5. Stay hydrated and fuel properly. I used to carry a handheld camel-back water holster but after 5 or so miles I wanted to chuck it in the bushes. Now I use a fuel-belt and love it, you may have to wear it high on your waist so it doesn’t bounce- plus it has a little pouch where I can fit my gels and burts bee’s chapstick. Good fuel choices are crucial – Clif shot is my favorite commercial variety because it has the simplest ingredient list, I usually abstain from caffeine, but while running I choose the caffeinated variety. I have started to pack Justin’s Nut Butter’s and am enjoying a change of pace. This weekend during my half marathon I will be fueling with a homemade blends of sports drinks and gels, recipes here at the end of this post, from Vegan Triathlete Brendan Brazier’s book “Thrive”.

6. Find a friend, or shall I say, a partner in crime? The majority of my consistency has come from knowing my buddy is going to be there. Otherwise most mornings I would probably be pushing the snooze alarm and wake up an hour (or two) later. Buddies are also good for the old safety in numbers rule, especially for us ladies: there have been multiple rapes of runners in the news lately. Aparently there are lots of ratbags our there. I can’t post the names I would like to call them on this blog! They stake out running trails in search of solitary females. So really, grab a partner. I have a select few running buddies, but this guy is one of my favorites. He never complains, and he still is smiling at mile 10. He even pulls me up the hills, literally. Aren’t I Lucky? (Sorry, he is blurry, he doesn’t know how to hold still).

7. Even if you don’t feel like going out, lace up those shoes. I have never regretted going running. I ALWAYS come home more positive and happy (okay, except for that one time when I got caught mid-run in a hail storm and had welts all over my body and face for a week). My friend Christina’s blog header says: “You often regret the runs you don’t do, but rarely regret the runs you do. Happy Running!” SO TRUE!

8. Run first in the morning if you can – if you think you’ll run later, something almost always gets in the way and throws you off track. Believe me, I know.

9. Get a running hero to think about while you run. Someone that you admire. I have many including family members and friends, but here are some that are a little more famous that you can idolize too: Scott Jurek, the vegan ultra-runner who is fuels his 100 mile plus runs on a purely plant based diet, radical. Ryan hall, who can run a 4:45 pace for most of 26.2, has the form of a gazelle and is unabashadly spiritual as well. Kara Goucher, can I have your form, speed and body? And then the totally legit hero, Amy Palermo-Winters, seriously people, she runs ultras with only one leg…. Again, don’t tell me you can’t run.

10. Have fun. No, really – whenever I get too serious about running is when I don’t like it. If I have high expectations of myself and I fail or don’t get the time I wanted at a race, I am miserable. So tomorrow, as I run my first half marathon of the year, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. HAVE FUN. I’m not bringing my Garmin (although it’s awesome). I’m not running with a pacer group, and I’m not trying to beat 2 hours….yet again (my fastest time is 2:03, that 2 hour mark is an elusive creature). I’m just going to enjoy it. Cause I love to run!

This is going to be my real first plant-based race – so here is a simple Pre-Race Pizza recipe for you to enjoy! (I had made Leftoverlicious Lentil Casserole in the crock-pot, from Little Sis at mysisterspantry.wordpress.com, but it is going to have to be eaten as leftovers tomorrow post-race because my hubby wanted pizza 😉 Of course I had to oblige.

Pre-Race (or anytime) Pizza in less then 30 minutes

2 prepared whole wheat pizza crusts – I had organic ones from whole foods, you could easily make your own, but I was in a hurry

1 small can organic tomato paste

italian seasonings

garlic salt

1 block tofu

1/4 C. raw cashews

1/4 C. nutritional yeast

1/4 C. unsweetened almond or soy milk

toppings: organic baby spinach, artichoke hearts in brine, kalamata olives, diced tomatoes

Method: Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Spread each crust with half the tomato paste. Sprinkle with garlic salt and italian seasonings to taste. Next add tofu, nutritional yeast, raw cashews and almond milk to high powered blender or food processor. Alternately pulse and scrape down the sides until well combined. Add garlic salt to taste and pulse a few more times. Spread half of each crust with the “white cheez sauce.” Sprinkle with spinach, artichokes, tomatoes and kalamata olives. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve.

Oh and still think you can’t run… Really? Well watch this and think again.

Still need more motivation? Read this post. If you really make an attempt at running for the right reasons, run 3-6 months and complete a half marathon and still don’t like running, then it may really not be your thing. But how do you know until you try?

Update: Finished the race today 3 minutes faster then last years race on the same course with far less training.

Woot Woot!