Thursday, May 30, 2013

What's for...dessert?: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bon-Bons

The other day I saw a coupon for Dole Banana Dippers and thought they looked yummy. I cut the coupon and for like the next three weeks they were completely sold out at my grocery store. Every time I went in I would check and I even went so far as to ask the freezer guy who was working one day, and he said they couldn't keep them on the shelves they were going to fast.

Then I started to think about it. One of the things I really miss about eating in a more primal way is baking. I love making cookies and breads. It makes me feel like such a good mom to spend time making a treat for my kids. So why can't I make them a healthy treat?

Here you go: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bon-Bons. I'm calling them bon-bons because it's fun to say and also they are frozen so it's like a little ice cream treat. Also, it's just so fun to say. Did I say that already? These were super easy to make and definitely something the kids could help with (although if you let that happen be prepared for a bit of a mess.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bon-Bons


2 bananas (or however much you want)
peanut butter
chocolate chips
small spoonful of coconut oil (optional)

Directions (with pictures!!):

1. Cut bananas in slices and lay them on a piece of wax paper on top of a cookie sheet.

2. Smear a bit of peanut butter (or any kind of nut butter...ooh almond would be good!) on top of each slice.

3. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in a glass bowl. If you are like me and nuke them for too long, throw a spoonful of coconut oil in to make it the right consistency. Bonus...the coconut adds a nice flavor.

4. Once the chocolate is melted, using a fork dip the slices into the chocolate and lay on the wax paper.

4. Put entire cookie sheet in freezer for, oh maybe about an hour would do. I actually left mine in overnight because I forgot to take them out.

These are best eaten if you let them thaw out for a few minutes, but are pretty messy. I guess you'll just have to stick a whole one in your mouth! Once they are frozen you can put them all in a ziploc bag and keep them in the freezer.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

#Project30Days Update: A month without the scale

I gave myself 3 #Project30Days projects this month:

1. Make my bed every day.

2. Take a picture every day.

3. Give up the scale for 30 days.

My bed has been made, and I'm surprised at how much I enjoy having it made. I didn't think it really mattered, but the fact is I love how nice my room looks when I walk by it and see that bed made all nice and neat. Kel also noticed and asked me one day why I started making the bed. I think it's been another surprising success of #project30days to realize the value of small things.

I was also successful with my picture project. There was only one day I forgot, and I'm pretty sure it was because I was out of my regular routine. The greatest reward from taking a picture every day was that I started to become much more aware of my surroundings and started to look for tiny, interesting things I wanted to remember, but might forget if I didn't snap a photo. I have several pics from the month that I just really love, but my favorite is this one of a bird that landed on my window as I woke up and sang me a good morning song.

Now, onto the scale. This was by far the hardest project I have given myself so far. I learned so much from it. I also failed (and the lesson here is that even through failure we can learn.) I was able to make it about 20 days without weighing myself, but then I totally caved and got on the scale.

What I realized is that I do rely too much on that number, and I think I have made some very good shifts to focusing on other data like how I look and feel and how my clothes fit. On the other hand, I also realized that for me the scale is a useful tool. It helps me to see what is working and what is not working. It is a great indicator of hydration after long workouts. It keeps me in check if I use it well. And therein lies the key. I have to be better at using it well. The scale cannot be the end all and be all. It cannot be a form of punishment, but rather a form of encouragement and even more importantly just pure data. If I have been eating a certain way and I see the numbers going up I have to realize that some things need to change. It is not about me berating myself for screwing up, but it is about staying in touch with what is working and using it to help me achieve my goals. I will continue to use the scale as a tool in the future, but I plan on coupling that with other things I used this month to help me be objective about where I am in terms of body composition and health.

So onward to June. I am still thinking about what my projects for the next 30 days will be. Are any of you going to join me this month?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Art of Finishing

Finish Line

I love to finish things: a bottle of shampoo or a tub of face cream, a tube of toothpaste, a gallon of milk. I don't know what it is, but I just have such a sense of satisfaction when I reach the end of something - like I've accomplished something even if it's only eating an entire jar of almond butter (not in one day, people...seriously!!)

I think this is one of the reasons I love racing so much. At the end of a triathlon you are finished. You even cross the finish line! You are done! Even though there is always another race or another bottle of something to replace what you have completed, there is that distinct feeling of having accomplished something.

What I have noticed in my life is there are a lot more things I do that do not have finish lines. Parenting, work, taking care of the house, laundry...these are not tasks that can be nicely wrapped up and classified as being DONE. I can't cross "taking care of my children" off my to-do list. It is there every day. That is not to say I don't enjoy doing things that are never finished, but sometimes the enormity of something so big that it is never finished overwhelms me.

So I've been thinking a lot about how I can take some of these un-finishable tasks and make my own little finish lines. How can I call it done, at least for the day? This applies even more in my professional career. I have a tendency to dream big but then get bogged down in the details of how to get the big dream realized. The result is that I feel rarely finish anything.

For me, part of the answer to this question is to focus on completing the small tasks that go into these ongoing "projects," for lack of a better term. Because I have always sort of worked for myself, I don't have very many deadlines or a boss dictating how and when I should do something, so I need to start doing that for myself. I need to break up my huge goals into tiny parts that I can actually finish. In order to make that happen, I need to thoroughly define and design my projects, or I will get overwhelmed by them.

The other thing I am going to do is to start celebrating even the smallest finish line victories. Picture this, my kids are finally in bed for the night, so I stop my watch (naturally), raise my hands over my head in victory, and give a shout of joy. I finished! I made it through the day! Maybe I'll even have Kel take a picture. I might even spend a few minutes recapping the day in my head to soak it all in instead of just moving along to the next thing I have to do. It seems a little bit silly, but maybe if we actually start to celebrate all of our finishes just like we do at the end of a race, we will feel just a little bit more accomplished and productive at the end of the day.

Do you struggle with this? How do you break things down in a way that makes it easier to accomplish them?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What's for Dinner: Cheddar Broccoli Frittata

I love breakfast. It is by far my favorite meal of the day. I love it so much, sometimes I eat it for lunch. And dinner. Breakfast is my default. My favorite breakfast for dinner is pancakes (duh), but pancakes and me don't always get along. They flip some sort of switch in my body that makes me crave all things carb and sugar for the next 24 hours. I will reserve the pancakes for a pancake party perhaps.

So instead of pancakes, every couple of weeks I make a version of this frittata. It's easy, it's cheap, it's customizable, and it's delicious. My children affectionately call this dish "egg-y pie." If you call it pie they will eat it. I promise.

Cheddar Broccoli Frittata (Egg-y Pie)

Broccoli florets, about 1 head (I just sort of eyeball it)
1-2 tbsp. butter (use's good and good for you!)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (more or less is fine)
6-8 eggs
chopped onions, bacon, ham, different veggies, different cheese, the possibilities are endless

1. Preheat your oven to 350. Bring some water to a boil and give the broccoli a quick steam. (A lot of times I'll make a bunch of broccoli for dinner the night before and use the leftovers for the frittata. In that case, you don't have to do anything to it. Just put it right into the mixing bowl.)
2. If you are adding meat or other raw veggies, cook the meat in an oven-safe pan (I use my cast iron skillet), then saute the veggies in the fat leftover from the meat. Put all of the meat and veggies into a big bowl.
3. Melt the butter in the same pan.
4. Crack all the eggs into the bowl with the veggies and throw in the shredded cheese and some salt and pepper.
5. Give it a good stir and pour it into the hot pan that now has melted butter in it.
6. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes or so and then throw the whole thing into the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the middle is set and not jiggly.

This time I had my bacon on the side!

What is your default any time of the day meal?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Long Ride by the Numbers

147 average heart rate

81 average cadence (darn hills)

53 very windy but beautiful miles

32 times (at least) I was thankful for being on my bike

9 Powerbar Cola Energy Blast Chews dropped on the road which made me very sad (always have backup nutrition!!)

4 miles run off the bike - almost time for Rev3 Quassy!!

3 dogs that chased me (none of them caught me, but I'm pretty sure the first number would be even lower if they hadn't chased me!)

2 times I was stung through my bike shorts by

1 very angry and now dead bee

0 regrets

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Instagram Pics of the Week

 Bleeding Hearts in my backyard.

 Running just because it's fun.

 I love riding to Victory.

 Muted sunset over Cayuga Lake.

The Bike Rodeo Champion!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's for Breakfast? Grain-Free Breakfast Ideas

Back in January I made a pretty big and permanent shift in my diet to cut out most grains and sugars. I had been leaning this way for a while, but for some reason I finally made the decision for real in January and haven't looked back. My primary reason for doing this is gaining health and avoiding diabetes and metabolic syndrome which run in my family on both sides.

I have avoided classifying the way that I eat as any one particular style, but if you take a look at what I am eating every day it looks a lot like Primal or Paleo. I do still include dairy in my diet, primarily in full fat forms of yogurt, cheese, butter and cream. I have been tracking my food for several months and the macronutrient breakdown is somewhere in the range of 50-55% fat, 25-30% carbs, and 15-20% protein depending on the day. I'm still tweaking these numbers to find what is my personal sweet spot for maximum energy while still working on body composition and losing extra fat. This is tricky to do while training, and I am definitely not skimping on carbs during my long training sessions. I did try to do this at the beginning, but the quality of my training definitely suffered. The deeper I dig into nutrition the more I find you have to figure out what works for you and then OWN it! Don't justify, don't make excuses, don't be afraid of what people will say, just know that it works for you.

Since January I have lost about 20 pounds. I haven't weighed myself this month for my May #project30days, so I don't know the exact number, but I do know my clothes are looser and I feel leaner. (On a side note, instead of weighing myself I have been taking a weekly picture of myself in my Rev3 shimmer bikini to track my progress. I'm not ready to share these, but I'm hoping I will be soon!)

Anyway, one question that I get asked a lot when I tell people about how I eat is, "What do you have for breakfast?" If you grew up in America you are pretty much used to cereal, toast, waffles, pancakes or oatmeal for breakfast, all of which do not work well for my body. I also LOVE cereal and have had to declare it off-limits for me. I do not eat just a bowl of cereal, I eat half a box, and then I eat the other half the next day. I used to have cereal after long workouts as "recovery" food, but I have realized it's like a drug for me. If I start the day with carbs, that is what I will want for the rest of the day.

So I pretty much rotate between 3 or 4 breakfasts every day. I rarely get bored with them because I can do lots of variations, and I really like all of them so it's something I look forward to.

This is my go-to breakfast in various forms. Pictured is strawberries, plain full fat Fage yogurt, homemade almond butter and a spoonful of chia seeds. Sometimes I will have raspberries or apples instead of strawberries. Sometimes I will have creme fraiche (I've been using this recipe to make it at home) or full fat cottage cheese instead of yogurt. I could literally eat this every day I love it so much. I also eat it for lunch now and then if I don't have it for breakfast.

Another favorite of mine is a green smoothie. I usually choose this if I have a busy morning of running around because I can take it with me, and like the meal above it can also sub in for lunch on a busy day. The basic ingredients are 1 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, 1 cup frozen fruit (I avoid bananas because of the high sugar content), 2-3 big huge handfuls of kale and/or spinach, some sort of protein - either a scoop of whey protein powder (I use this) or an egg, a tablespoon of chia seeds and then other flavorful add-ins like almond or lemon extract or a scoop of raw cacao powder. 

My favorite is chocolate cherry: 

1 cup frozen cherries
1 cup unsweetened So Delicious coconut milk (the kind in the box) 
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tbsp. raw cacao powder
little drop of almond extract
3 huge handfuls of raw baby spinach and or baby kale greens
big spoonful of coconut cream (the solid part in the can of coconut milk)
1 Tbsp chia seeds

Mix it up in the blender. You might have to add a little water to get it to blend if you don't have a fancy Vitamix (one can only dream..). You can totally mix it up (haha) with different kinds of fruit combos. The possibilities are endless.

It only cost $30, but it gets the job done.
My other go-to breakfast is banana-egg pancakes.  I eat this primarily on big training days because it has a little more carbs than the others. It is super easy. Basically combine 2 eggs and one raw banana in a mixer. You can also throw a spoonful of chia seeds or some almond butter in there too. I use a little mixer like this for easy pouring. (This mixer is also great for taking to away races for my race morning shake.)

Once you have your "batter" made, melt some coconut oil in a pan and cook it up like pancakes. They are pretty delicate so don't make them too big and turn carefully.

Voila!! Pancakes for breakfast. I eat them as is without any extra syrup (AKA sugar).

These breakfasts work great for me to satisfy my hunger in the morning, keep me going through lunch and give me what my taste buds are looking for when I wake up.

What is your go-to breakfast? 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Courage to be Imperfect

Confession: I am a perfectionist. However, I think I like the idea of perfection more than I like actually working on it. But when it really comes right down to it, perfection is totally overrated. Who can live up to all that hype day in and day out? As I am getting older and wiser, I am starting to see the beauty in being imperfect.

I came across a great TED talk by Brene Brown the other day on vulnerability. If you want to hear the whole talk (which is worth the time), you can check it out here, but there was one thing that was said that is absolutely worth repeating:
Whole-hearted people have the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, and connection to others as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were. (italics added)
This really hit home for me. In so many areas of my life I feel like I am always trying to do what I should,  be who I should, act like I should, and say what I should. That is a whole lot of SHOULD. When I sit down and think of what I should be this is what I come up with:

The Perfect Mother - always patient and available for her kids, crafty, clean fun, happy, loves to do projects, wants kids to excel and does whatever it takes to see that happen, never yells or loses her temper, looks forward to spending time with her kids every day, volunteers for all activities at school, actually does those things on Pinterest and then brags about it on Facebook.

The Enlightened Woman- always focused on health and spiritual growth, reads Bible every day, prays for people she doesn't like except she really likes and sees the good in everyone, always on time, calm, peaceful, compassionate, looks down her nose at all things typical (fast food, cookies that aren't homemade, things in wrappers), oh, and beautiful even without makeup on, skinny and runs fast effortlessly.

What I realized is that I am ALL of those things, I am just not all of those things all of the time. I am not all of those things even MOST of the time, and that is okay. My imperfections don't make me less they make me more, especially if I acknowledge them and accept myself as who I am today in this very minute. That doesn't mean I don't want to work on some of them or improve, but it means that just because I am not perfect does not mean I am inadequate. I need to acknowledge and nurture who I am instead of focus on what I am not.

It is only when I begin to accept the imperfect in myself that I can start to connect with other people in meaningful and real ways.

So, maybe I am a recovering perfectionist (is there a 12-step program for that?), and part of what I need to do daily is have the courage to be imperfect.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Mind of a Child

We went to watch Kel and many friend run the Mountain Goat race this morning. It is a spring tradition here in Syracuse. The Mountain Goat is a hilly 10-mile road race and it is always strangely hot compared to the weather preceding it for some reason.

Today was no different. Ryan was getting a little antsy while we were waiting for Kel to finish, so I handed him my phone.

This is what I found on it tonight. Clearly my child has no problems finding his way around a smart phone.

I think it's interesting that he took pictures of me and Noah, but had none of the race. The last one was at a cookout we went to after the race. Sometimes I wish I could step into his mind for a few minutes, just to know what was going on in there.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Little Things

I'm not sure if you know this about me, but I seem to always have a lot on my plate. I try really hard to be organized and to say no to things I don't really want to do, but when it comes down to it, I just have a lot going on between my kids and my many jobs and my training and everything else that seems to pop up and fill up my free time. Sometimes I feel like I am just going all the time, so when I have a moment that is just peaceful and beautiful it kind of sticks out. What I have noticed is that these moments, like all good things, must be cultivated. It is up to me to make them happen, so I was thinking the other day about the little things in life that make it better - the things I can do for myself that bring joy, peace, a sense of contentment, and rest to my life, and here is what I have come up with so far.

  • spending time alone in the morning
  • lighting a candle
  • getting mail (I guess I can't technically do this for myself, but I do really enjoy it)
  • sitting and drinking a cup of coffee (instead of running around doing other things while drinking it)
  • doing just one thing that is not work (reading blogs, watching tv - this pleasure is greatly diminished if I try to do more than one thing at a time like read blogs AND watch tv)
  • reading for pleasure
  • browsing by myself at Target
  • baking (which I miss since I have cut most grains and most sugars out of my diet)
  • going out to dinner with Kel
  • staying home all day
I was actually surprised at how short my list was and that almost all of them involved being alone. I also think that I am not always mindful of the little pleasures, so I am going to start writing these moments down so I can get into the habit of doing them for myself more often.

What are the little things in your life that make a big difference?