March 31, 2010

Humpastry Day - Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins
I had some strawberries that were starting to turn towards the limp side, so I thought I'd make some muffins.  I saw a great recipe on and just tweaked it a little bit and added a couple ingredients to jazz it up a little.  I think the strawberry banana combo is super yummy and the muffins are sweet, but not too sweet.  However, you could easily decrease the amount of sugar if you wanted and I think they would still taste great.  Eat them for breakfast alongside a fruit salad, as a snack, or late evening treat.  I hope you like them!

Makes 12 muffins
 *  2 flax eggs (2Tbl. ground flax mixed with 6Tbl. water until creamy)
*  1/2C unsweetened applesauce
*  1/4C canola oil
*  2 bananas, mashed
*  1tsp. vanilla extract
*  3/4C packed brown sugar

*  2C whole wheat flour
*  1tsp. baking soda
*  1/2C oats
*  1/2Tbl. cinnamon
*  1/4tsp. nutmeg
* 1C chopped fresh strawberries (or sliced frozen strawberries)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners, or grease the cups if you don't have any.  **Note:  I usually use the liners b/c they are easy, make the muffins healthier due to not having the grease, and allow for easy clean-up.
2.  In a mixer, mix the ingredients from flax eggs to brown sugar until combined.
3.  In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except the strawberries.
4.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just moistened.  **Note: be careful not to over-mix or the muffins will be tough.
5.  Fold in the chopped strawberries until evenly distributed.
6.  Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until filled.  **Note: most muffin recipes say to fill the cups 3/4 the way, but for these, fill the cups to the top.
7.  Sprinkle with a little brown sugar if desired.
8.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9.  Cool for a couple minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
10.  Enjoy!

March 30, 2010

Spring has sprung!

So, today has just been awesome and it's not even over yet. :)

I got up at 4:30 for my swim and I felt completely rested and ready to tackle my new set of drills.  Usually when I wake up early I am tired and want to crawl back into bed.  Not today!  I got to the pool and had the lane to myself for my entire swim!  Woohoo!  I love not having to share a lane.  My legs felt a little tired from my 11M and 5M runs, but they loosened up after a couple 100meters and I was good to go.  After awhile, I put on my fins and started on my drills.  I realized another benefit of fins, other than helping with my kick, is that they help me focus on just what I'm doing with my arms.  It's nice to wear them and not have to worry about my kick, balance, and hand position all at the same time.  I swam for about 45 minutes, hit the shower, than went into the gym to do a short lifting session.  I got home, made myself a pot of Mate tea, went in the basement for some core work, and enjoyed some quite time by myself before my boys and husband woke up.  Even though I was basically alone while I worked out, the quiet restful alone time is something I don't get that often, and it was really nice.

Oh, did I mention what the high today and tomorrow is going to be?  No?  Well, take a look at this!

In the 70s!  Hooray for spring weather...finally!

After I picked up my son from preschool, I put my youngest down for his nap, and went outside with my oldest.  Today is the first day that he is actually able to wear shorts and a t-shirt outside and he was loving it!  After reading about this idea from a couple blogs, I decided to get my bike trainer and head outside with it.  I don't know why I've never thought of it before, but it is awesome!  I hooked up my bike, sprayed on the sunscreen, and got to work.  There was a gentle breeze that was perfect for cooling me off a little.  The only thing that sucked was the occasional whiff of dog poop that lingered my way.  Yuck!

Speaking of my dog, he didn't quite grasp the concept that I couldn't play ball with him.  He kept dropping his ball by my tire, then laying down waiting for me to throw it to him.  Finally, after trying about 10 times he got the hint and stopped trying.  Poor thing.  At least my son was there to play ball with him.

I got in a total of 45 minutes on my trainer!  Woohoo!  It was great to be outside "riding" even if I wasn't on the real roads.  I think I will definitely be doing this again.

And, check out what is blooming in our little flower garden.  It's tiny, but so beautiful and a definite sign that spring has sprung!  :)

Oh, and LOST is on tonight.  I am a total LOST fan and cannot believe that the season is almost over.  I have no idea how it's all going to end.  My husband still thinks the island is purgatory, but the producers have denied that from the very beginning.  I guess we'll see!

See you tomorrow for Humpastry Day.  :)

March 29, 2010

I was gone, but now I'm back

Sorry I've been MIA for awhile.  Last week was pretty sucky.  Let's just say that stomach bugs, sleep deprivation, and depression from more snow got the best of me.  Needless to say, not many workouts got done.  But, by Friday things started to turn around and I was really looking forward to my long run on Saturday.
My sister-n-law and her husband were coming for a visit Saturday evening (the reason I didn't get my Sunday Sampler post done...sorry!), so I wanted to get my run done early before they got here.  But, when we woke up on Saturday the wind was here with a vengeance!  The high was supposed to be around 45, but it felt like 35 with the wind chill.  That should give you a good idea about how strong the wind gusts were.  I decided to wait until the late afternoon to see if the wind would die down.  But, it never did.  So, I put on my tights, wind jacket, gloves, and bondiband and headed out.  It was cold and I was glad I had my jacket to break the chill from the wind.  

I decided to run on a new trail that started by my house.  I was originally going to do 5.5 miles out and back since my plan called for 11 miles.  But, once I got on the trail and realized where it was headed I figured out I could do a loop back to my house.  The wind was pretty brutal the entire run, but it still felt great to be outside running and working up a sweat after being inactive for a couple of days.  The trail turned out to be awesome and actually linked up to part of the Highline canal trail that I wrote about awhile back.  The only part that kind of sucked was around mile 8 when I had to run uphill for about 1.5 miles.  My legs were tired, but I still felt strong.  It's amazing how my fitness has changed since beginning my 1/2 marathon plan.  It's nice to actually feel the difference in my strength and endurance and realize that my hard work is paying off.  I am so excited for my 1/2 in a couple of weeks! :)

On another note, I had my second swim lesson with my coach on Sunday.  He said my balance is much better in the water and my hips aren't sinking as much as they were.  Woohoo!  One thing he said I needed to work on was my hand entry.  Apparently, I'm entering the water too close to my head.  We did several drills to help with correct entry, but I really have to be conscious of what I'm doing the entire time.  We took a moment to watch a guy swimming that was just amazing.  He made it look so effortless.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and make my swimming effortless too.  But, we all know that isn't going to happen.  So, I'll have to settle with waking up at 4:30 3x a week for the rest of my life!  Ha ha.

Anyways, I'm sorry I didn't get my Sunday Sampler post done.  Like I mentioned above, my family was in town and we were out and about all day Sunday enjoying the beautiful weather.  My blog and posting had to take a back seat to my life and I know you all understand that!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! :)

March 24, 2010

Humpastry Day - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies
We got about a foot of snow last night, so the boys and I had a snow day today.  It's been awhile since we've made cookies, so I thought it would be fun to make some cookies with them.  I found a recipe for Vegan cookies on recipezaar that I liked, but I tweeked it a little bit to make it a little healthier.  I wasn't sure how the cookies were going to turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised and I will definitely be making these again!  Another great thing about these cookies is that they are vegan if you use vegan chocolate chips.  I just had regular chocolate chips, so that's what I used.    

With my boys on stools next to me, they helped me pour the ingredients in the mixer and of course tasted the batter when it was ready.  The great thing about this recipe is that there are no eggs in it, so there's nothing to be afraid of when eating this batter. And, I have to say that the batter is really good!  You could probably just make these raw cookies, if you're into eating raw, but the finished product is super yummy!  The combination of ingredients works really well together and brings a different flare to regular chocolate chip cookies.  I hope you like them!

Makes roughly 24 cookies

*  1/3C almond/cashew/peanut butter (I used almond butter...yum!)
*  2Tbl. canola oil
*  3/4C raw sugar
*  1/3C soymilk
*  1tsp. vanilla extract
*  1C whole wheat flour
*  1/2tsp. baking soda
*  1/2tsp. salt
*  1C rolled oats
*  2/3C chocolate chips
*  1/2C chopped walnuts/macadamia nuts (I used walnuts)  

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2.  Mix together all the ingredients from almond butter to vanilla extract.
3.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, oats, and chopped nuts.
4.  Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and mix until just combined.
5.  Fold in the chocolate chips
6.  Drop by Tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet
7.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Note:  these cookies do not spread out like regular cookies, so it's kind of hard to tell if they're done.  Just keep checking on them to make sure they don't burn.
These cookies are actually done.  You can see in this picture how the cookies stay as a ball and don't spread.
8.  Remove cookie sheet from oven and let cookies cool on sheet for a couple of minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Note: Like I mentioned above, the cookies don't spread, so when I took them out of the oven I flattened them a little with a spatula, and then let them sit for a couple of minutes on the sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.
This is a picture of me flattening them with my spatula.  :)

After shoveling the driveway, playing in the snow with my boys, and building a snowman, these were the perfect treat - with a glass of milk of course! :)   

March 22, 2010

First ride outside!

Today was absolutely beautiful, and a welcome change from the cold and snow on Saturday.  My husband actually had today off so he went for a long bike ride this morning while I held down the fort with our boys.  Then, this afternoon we all headed out for a ride together.  My husband took our boys in the burley and I got out my new tri bike.  The boys were so excited because this was the first time they've been able to go on a bike ride probably since this fall.  But, I think I was even more excited because this was the first time I've been able to ride outside since fall too!  And, I got to ride my new tri bike which I've only ridden outside once, which was on the day I picked it up in October!

Although my road bike had clip on aero bars and I was used to riding in aero, I was a little nervous about taking out my tri bike because of the more aggressive aero position.  Plus, the shifters are completely different than my road bike.  I stayed with my husband and boys for a little while, then took off on my ride while they went to play at the park.  

Once I was off on my own, all the nervousness went away.  It just felt so good to finally be riding outside.  You can ride every day on a trainer, but it's a completely different experience riding outside.  I got into aero without any hesitation and started passing other riders (not that there were too many out on a Monday afternoon, but it still felt great!).  I felt sooo fast and light.  I tried to look at my Garmin to see how fast I was going, but for some reason it wasn't reading.  Turns out when my husband switched out my wheels he forgot to put the cadence sensor back on, so my Garmin had nothing to read...ha ha.

It's amazing how different my tri bike is than my road bike.  I mean, I love my road bike and it will always hold a special place in my heart.  But, my tri bike is just so comfortable and did I mention fast?  :)  I completed the loop and headed back to meet up with my husband and boys.  I couldn't ride too long, but I got in a good 45 minutes during one of our snowiest months.  I'll take it!  Oh, and I'm glad I did because the forecast calls for more snow!      

It's definitely going to be hard to get back on the trainer after being outside.  But, I know my next ride outside will come sooner rather than later.  Thank you Mrs. Spring for giving us a glimpse of your warmth today.  It was awesome! :)

March 21, 2010

The Sunday Sampler - Fitness

Welcome to a new installment of The Sunday Sampler.  This is the day where I share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness, parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read your perspectives on these things as well!  :) 

Fitness:  Recovery
One thing I learned last year from training for my first Half Iroman was the importance of proper recovery after a long workout.  I read lots of books and online articles about what to do and what to eat.  I would take notes and put them in my workout binder (yes, I have a binder that holds this info), and revisit them when needed.  At first I thought it was all hype.  That is, until I started really putting in the swim/bike/run miles and noticing the difference on the days I actually paid attention to recovery and those I didn't.  The truth is that your muscles need to be properly recovered so they are ready for their next big workout, which comes pretty quickly when you're in the midst of training.  So, here are some things that I have found to help me and one thing that seems to help others that I have yet to try.  

Glycogen is the source of energy most often used in exercise and is an important fuel for skeletal muscles during prolonged exercise.  After an intense workout, your glycogen stores are depleted and increased cortisol levels begin to break down muscle tissue.  Therefore, proper recovery is crucial to insure that injury, fatigue, soreness, and illness don't occur.   The key to good recovery is to eat and drink the proper nutrients your body needs after a workout in order to promote muscle repair and replenish glycogen stores. You want to eat quickly digestible carbohydrates and stay away from a lot of fat because it will slow down your body's absorption of the nutrients you need.  Ideally, you should try to consume your recovery nutrition within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.  So, here are some ideas of what you can eat.  Yes, you can buy pre-made recovery products, but I want to focus on things you might already have sitting in your fridge/pantry.  Plus, they're cheaper and can save you lots of moola if you train a lot!        

What to eat/drink:
·        Glass of chocolate milk
·        Protein shake made with protein powder(2Tbl), water, and ½ banana
·        Shake made with ½ banana, orange juice, and vanilla yogurt
·        Fat free cottage cheese w/ banana and cinnamon
·        Peanut butter(1Tbl) and ½ banana on rice cakes(2) or whole wheat english muffin
·        Hummus(1/4C) and whole wheat pita
·        Low-fat yogurt(8oz) with 1/2C berries
·        Turkey(4oz) and cheese (1soft wedge) roll-ups w/ apple slices
·        Cheese and crackers
·        Dried fruit and almonds

While I am usually able to get in my recovery nutrition at home, I always have a back-up snack stored in my car and gym bag in case something comes up. Little snack ziploc bags are the perfect size to hold little things to munch on.  

Compression Gear:
O-kay, so I know there is a lot of hype about the use of compression gear for recovery.  If you google it you will find article after article about it.  But, no matter what is said about it I've found that some people love it, some people don't believe in it, and some people swear by it.  I am part of the third set of people.  I swear by it.  

Once again, I became interested in compression gear while I was training for my HIM.  Most of my post workout soreness would be in my thighs and hamstrings, so I wanted a full tight instead of the calf sleeves or socks.  After researching several different brands and styles, I ended up getting a pair of the Zoot CompressRx active tights. (Note:  This post is my own opinion.  I was not paid by Zoot to promote their product).  

The people at Zoot say the compression tights stabilize and prevent post-exercise soreness, improve blood flow back to the heart, and reduce lactic acid levels.  I was really skeptical about whether or not they would actually work, but I have to say that I honestly think that they do help with my recovery.  I no longer get that second-day crazy soreness that I would get in the past.  I feel like my body is able to recover more quickly and is ready to tackle my next big workout without a lot of fatigue and soreness.  Although they look like they would fit a 5yr. old, they are not too tight and are actually pretty comfortable to wear.    

Usually after my long workouts I make a glass of chocolate milk and stretch.  Then, I take a shower and put on my tights.  I have actually come to look forward to putting on my tights after a hard bike ride or long run.  Depending on what I do for the rest of the day I might wear them for a couple of hours, for the rest of the day, or while I sleep if my workout was done in the evening. 

So, do any of you use compression gear?  I would love to hear your thoughts on it!   

Ice Bath:
I have to admit that I have never done an ice bath.  I am a total cold wuss and I don't think I would survive one.  That being said, I have heard wonderful things about the benefits of an ice bath after a long workout.  So, I will probably jump in the ice wagon (ha ha..get it) and take the plunge some time in the future.  Here's some info. I found from about why ice baths help with recovery:
Cryotherapy ("cold therapy") constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. "Ice baths don't only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles," says David Terry, M.D., an ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times.
I have also read several posts from bloggers reporting on their ice bath efforts.  So, if you (or I) ever decide to do one, here's how I've read you (I) should do it.  

1.  Put on your swimsuit bottoms or tri shorts.  Wear something warm on your upper body. Possibly put on some gloves and a hat.  Have something warm to drink while you're in the tub.  
2.  Fill your tub with cold water
3.  Hop into the tub and let your body adjust to the cold water for a few minutes
4.  Add some ice (I've heard 2 ice cube trays is plenty)
5.  Sit in the tub for 10-15 minutes 
6.  Jump out, dry off, and take a warm shower about 30minutes after getting out

Brrr...I am getting cold just thinking about it.  I guess my hesitation in doing an ice bath is not knowing when I should take one.  I mean, what distance or time warrants sitting in FREEZING cold water?  1 hr?  2hr?  10miles?  15miles?   
Do any of you do ice baths?  If so, when do you do them?  

I hope this post helped to shed some light on the importance of proper recovery.  But, with nutrition, compression, and ice baths, there is also a need for rest.  Don't forget to reward yourself and let your body rest in order to refuel, recharge, heal, and repair.  After all, nothing beats a good nights sleep.  

March 20, 2010

First Day of Spring - really?

Ahhh...spring.  A time for warmth, flowers, and long sunny days.

Oh, wait.  I was dreaming for a second.  Here's what I woke up to this morning:
Mr. Winter, please leave.  We don't need anymore snow, really.  It's time to say goodbye and let Mrs. Spring take over.  I know it's sometimes hard for men to hand over the reigns to a woman, but it's time.  Just give in and move on your way.

Happy first day of spring everyone.  I hope your day is filled with warmth and sunshine and not this cold, white stuff.  Have a great weekend! :)  

p.s.  I hope I didn't offend any men out there with my comment above.  I don't really think that way, really.  :)

March 19, 2010

Swimming, Intervals, and Yoga...oh my!

I did it!  I got up at 4:30 three times this week to swim.  Woohoo!  And, it felt great!  Today was tough though because this is the forecast:
(Note: the high of 36 actually happened around 1AM.  The real high for the day will only be in the 20s..brrr)
Yep, after 3 days in the mid to upper 60s, we're in for some snow.  Not just a light dusting, but 5-10 inches of snow!  So, all I wanted to do this morning when my alarm went off was stay in my warm, cozy bed.  But, I fought the urge and went to the pool.  And, it was the best swim of the week!  I had the pool to myself for the first 30 min and just plugged away on my drills.

Along with some balance drills, one of the drills my coach has me doing is the Superman on my front and back with fins.
(Here are my zoomers.  And yes, I still have an ugly toenail.  I just haven't gotten around to painting them yet!)
When I use the fins I can really feel it in my hip flexors, and it has made me conscious of my kick and my hips.  Plus, it's amazing how aware I become of those things when I take the fins off and swim normal.  Do any of you use fins?  If so, what are your thoughts on them?

On Wednesday it was 68 degrees for a high, so I gathered my boys, toys, snacks, and running stuff and headed to the track.  My plan called for 7x400 repeats.  Here are my splits:
wu: 800 - 4:08
ms: 7x400 - 1:31, 1:31, 1:33, 1:32, 1:32, 1:32, 1:33 (roughly a 6:00/mile pace)
cd: 1 lap ran with my boys.
My 4 1/2 yr. old wanted to run really fast, so I let him, and ran with my 2 1/2 yr. old.  It's so cute seeing their little legs move as fast as they can.  And, I know someday they'll be taller than me (I'm only 5' 4") and their little legs will be long legs moving much faster than mine.  Ha ha.

We went to the playground afterwards and played for a good 45minutes before heading home.  It was a great way to end a great workout.

 My yoga class on Thursday was very interesting, but in a good way.  We started by doing sun salutations, runners pose, planks, and downward dogs.  Then, we transitioned into a good 40 minutes of balance poses followed by stretching.  Somewhere in the middle of the class she had us do this crazy exercise.  Here is my best description of it:  Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Then, bend your left knee, put your foot as close to your butt as you can, and pull your knee tight into your chest with your arms.  While keeping your back straight, lift your right leg and swing it left to right in a steady motion.  Do this for several minutes, relaxing your right foot on the ground when you need to.  Then, switch sides.  Wow!  This really worked my hip flexors and thigh.  It was tough because once my leg got tired I would want to slouch, but she kept telling us to keep our backs straight.  If any of you decide to try this, let me know what you think about it.  Was it hard, or do I just have really weak hip flexors??

This exercise was interesting to me because I never would have thought to do that.  I can see doing it on a regular basis to help strengthen my hip flexors which will maybe help with my swim kick.  Well, that's what I'm thinking anyway.       

And now, I'll leave you with a picture I just took from my patio:
Although the first day of spring is tomorrow, this is just another reminder that March is our snowiest month.  Sigh...60 degrees, please come back!

March 17, 2010

Humpastry Day - Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread
In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, I thought I'd try out some Irish Soda Bread.  I have to admit that I have never had Irish Soda Bread, so I'm not sure if this is truly Soda bread, but I will say that it is really yummy! It's not too sweet, is moist on the inside, and has the perfect crunchy shell on the outside.  I found several recipes on (love that site!) and tweaked them to make the bread a little healthier.  I hope you like it!

Makes 1 loaf in a 9" pan
 *  3C whole wheat pastry flour
*  1Tbl. baking powder
*  1/3C raw sugar
*  1tsp. salt
*  1tsp. baking soda
*  1C raisins
*  1 flax egg (1Tbl. flax w/ 3Tbl. water)
*  2C buttermilk (Note:  If you do not have buttermilk, all you have to do is add 1tsp. apple cider vinegar per cup of milk.  So, I mixed together 2C soymilk w/ 2tsp. vinegar and let it sit for a couple of minutes. have buttermilk!)
*  1/4C coconut oil (or butter if you prefer)

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9" loaf pan.
2.  Mix dry ingredients together from flour to raisins.
3.  Blend the flax egg and the buttermilk together, then add to the dry ingredients.
4.  Stir in the coconut oil until just combined.
5.  Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake it in the oven for ~60min.  Note: make sure you check the bread before the time runs out.  I took mine out after 60min, and probably could have taken it out sooner.
6.  Put it on a cooling rack to cool.  Once cool, serve, and enjoy with butter or your favorite topping!
Don't you love the green plate?  I thought it was a nice touch.  Ha ha! :)

Have a great day!

March 16, 2010

One step closer to a goal

One of my New Years goals was to take swimming lessons to try and figure out why I suck so much at swimming.  Well, needless to say I have been procrastinating contacting a swim coach.  I don't know why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I know my swim needs major help and in order to improve I am going to have to get in the pool.  I actually love to swim, but I do not love having to wake up at 4:30 to get it done.

Last week I finally bit the bullet, emailed the swim coach, and set up a day to meet.  That day ended up being Sunday.  I was super nervous because I have really been slacking with my swim training.  Technically, my HIM training doesn't start for a few more weeks, but I wanted to get in the pool on a regular basis so I wouldn't lose all of my swim fitness.  However, it's been a bit of a failure.  :(

(Read on to see what I have in common with this cartoon!)

I got to the rec center and met the coach at the pool.  The water was surprisingly cold, but it could have just been my nerves.  I tend to get really cold when I'm nervous.  Anyways, he had me swim a 100 to just see where I'm at and I had a hard time getting into a rhythm right off the bat.  Like I said before, I was pretty nervous and it's just hard for me to "perform" when someone is watching me.  But, I got over it really quickly because I knew he was there to help me and help is what I need!  Apparently, I have some balance issues.  But, the main issue I have is that my hips and feet sink too much when I swim.  No wonder I'm so slow, I'm making a big amount of drag in the water...ughh!  We worked on a lot of drills that I hope will help with my issues and he gave me some other things to work on when I swim.  The lesson ended up being great and I'm so glad I contacted him.  I'll let you know how our next session goes in a couple of weeks.

Oh, when I was in the locker room getting ready to change his wife walked in.  Apparently, she had been swimming too.  She introduced herself and asked me if I swim 3 times a week.  I told her that I have been trying, but life/kids/sleep get the best of me some days.  She was really nice and told me that if I could just commit to swim 3 times a week for one month that I would start to see some improvements.  Now, she (and her husband) have completed numerous Ironmans, so I think I should listen to what they have to say-don't you think?  Basically, I just need to HTFU, get out of bed when my alarm goes off, and get to the pool.

So far, I've done one swim this week and it was great!  I did the drills my coach instructed me to do and then just swam, really trying to focus on my form.  I can definitely feel my hips and feet sink.  So, I tried to push my chest out (if that makes sense) and it helped.  My hips and feet rose closer to the surface.  So, 1 swim down, 2 to go (at least for this week).  :)

As a side note, my boys have their first swimming lessons today!  Maybe we'll be working on the same drills...ha ha!

March 14, 2010

The Sunday Sampler - Health

Welcome to a new installment of The Sunday Sampler.  This is the day where I share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness (gear/clothing/accessories/etc.), parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read about your perspectives on these things as well!  :) 

O-kay, so I know I'm supposed to be rotating my posts, so technically this should be about exercise.  But, I was asked to do a post about healthy breakfast options.  I don't know about you, but cereal just doesn't cut it for me when it comes to breakfast.  Yes, it's easy, but it lacks the substance to keep me going throughout the morning.  That being said however, I still eat cereal on occasion.  But, we are conscious about what cereal we buy, and we always load it up with berries, raisins/cherries, and sprinkle a little ground flaxseed on top.  This helps, but I'm still starving by 9 o'clock!   Now, I am far from perfect and there are days when we go to Starbucks and get a pumpkin loaf (yum) or Panera for a cinnamon roll, but for the most part, we make breakfast every morning and enjoy it as a family before heading off in different directions.  So, I thought I'd share with you some of my family's favorite things to eat for breakfast.  I would love to hear what you eat too, so please share! :)  

Breakfast Ideas:
We've all heard it before, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day."  Well, whether you believe that or not, here is some quick info about the importance of eating breakfast:

*  This is probably my favorite analogy:  Imagine you're a car.  After a long night of sleeping, your fuel tank is empty.  Breakfast is the fuel that gets you going so you can hit the road.  
*  Breakfast gives us a much needed energy boost for the rest of the day.  
*  Studies show that those who eat a healthy breakfast not only snack less, are more focused, and have more energy throughout the day, but also tend to be thinner than those who eat an unhealthy breakfast, or skip it all together.  
*  Not making time for breakfast may lead to consuming high calorie/carb foods that even the most active person would have a hard time burning.  
* Kids who don't eat breakfast are less able to learn at school, get less iron in their diets, and are more likely to have a higher BMI, which is a sign they may be overweight. 
*  Kids who eat breakfast do better in school, are more likely to participate in physical activities, and tend to eat healthier overall.  
* Studies show that besides assuring optimal development and growth, positive effects on alertness, attention, and other skills important for academic success are enhanced for those who eat breakfast on a daily basis. 
*  Eating breakfast leads to steadier blood glucose, better concentration, and more success at reaching your healthy weight goals.  
* A six-year study compared the mental and physical efficiency of a group of adults throughout the day, some of whom ate healthy nutritious breakfasts while others did not.  When compared to those who ate breakfast, the people who did not became less efficient as the day went on.  Their productivity improved after eating lunch, but by the end of the day their work completion was slower than those who had eaten breakfast.  

So, here are some of our favorite breakfasts:

1.  Quinoa with cherries and walnuts

So, I know most of us don't have a lot of time in the morning for breakfast, especially if you have children who need to be shuffled to school.  But, this is really easy and doesn't take much time at all.  There's a little chopping involved, but really you just put the ingredients in the pot, let it cook, and eat it when it's done.  For me, I wake up, get it started, then go about getting myself and boys dressed and ready for the day.  This breakfast is full of healthy goodness and is a nice change from oatmeal.

Makes about 4 servings

*  1 1/3C quinoa (make sure you rinse it really well first)
*  2 2/3C water
*  1 small apple, unpeeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
*  1/4C dried cherries
*  1/2C chopped walnut pieces
*  1/2tsp. ground cinnamon
*  2Tbl. honey or agave nectar
*  1/2C soymilk
*  ground flaxseed

1.  Put the quinoa and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 5 minutes.
2.  Add the apples and cherries and cook, covered over low heat, until water is absorbed, about 10minutes more.
3.   Stir in the cinnamon, honey, and milk.  Cook for 1 more minute, so the milk is heated through.
4.  Place into bowls and top with walnuts and ground flaxseed.  Feel free to add more honey and milk to taste.

2.  Smoothie and whole wheat toast with peanut/almond/cashew butter
Sorry, this isn't the best picture.  I forgot to take a pic before eating some of my smoothie...:)
For me, the options for smoothies are endless.  You can add fresh fruit, frozen fruit (Costco has amazing frozen blueberries and strawberries), hemp protein powder, hemp seeds, cacoa/carob powder, 100% fruit juices, milk,  yogurt, water, etc..  But, some of the basics that I almost always use are plain yogurt, soymilk, and ground flaxseed.  From there I put whatever I have inside the blender, blend it up, and serve it with some whole wheat toast covered with some peanut butter.  I also like to drizzle a little honey over the peanut butter (yum!).

Oh, and I love to add chopped spinach to my smoothies.  They add a great nutritional punch to the smoothie and you don't even taste it.  It turns the smoothie green, but I could care less what color it is! :)

3.  Steelcut Oatmeal with mix-ins

I love oatmeal and my boys absolutely love it too!  This takes some time to cook, so what I do is put everything in our rice cooker on the porridge setting before going to bed, set the timer, and it's ready when we wake up.  Easy peasy breakfast!  You could also use a crockpot on the low setting if you didn't have a rice cooker.

For all of the combos below, we just put all of the ingredients together and cook it.  When it's finished, you can top it with sliced almonds, hemp protein powder, peanut/almond/cashew butter, fresh fruit, or whatever your heart desires. Here are some of our favorite combos:

A)  Our version:  1 1/2C steelcut oats, 4C water, 1 1/2tsp. cinnamon, 2 1/2Tbl. br. sugar, 2 apples (unpeeled, cored, and cut into small chunks), 3 handfuls of raisins, 3Tbl. ground flaxseed.

B)  Maple & Brown Sugar:  1 1/2C steelcut oats, 4C water, 2Tbl. maple syrup/agave nectar, 2Tbl. br. sugar, 3Tbl. raisins, 3Tbl. ground flaxseed

C)  Cranberry-Date:  1C steelcut oats,  4C water, 1C dried cranberries, 1C chopped pitted dates, 3Tbl. ground flaxseed

D)  Almond-Date:  1C steelcut oats, 4C water, 2/3C chopped pitted dates, 1/3C almonds, 3Tbl. ground flaxseed, 1/4C brown sugar, 1/2tsp. cinnamon, 1/4tsp. salt

4.  Old fashioned Oats -quick and easy oatmeal
This is probably one of my favorite breakfasts.  It is super easy to make and is ready in less than 5minutes!

Here's what I use:  3/4C old-fashioned oatmeal (not the quick cooking kind), some raisins/dried cherries, 1/2 banana sliced, 1Tbl. ground flaxseed, 1Tbl. hemp protein powder, dash of cinnamon, little bit of raw sugar, 1Tbl. peanut/almond butter, and soymilk (enough to cover the oats).

Here's how I do it:  I mix everything in a microwave safe bowl, put it in the microwave, and cook it for 1 1/2 minutes on high.  Viola!  It's done and really yummy!  

5.  Yogurt with granola, berries, and lots of add-ons
This is another simple breakfast that's super easy to make.  I use plain soy yogurt, whatever fresh berries we have, 1/2 banana sliced, ground flaxseed, and granola.  You can then add dried cherries/raisins/cranberries, sliced almonds, hemp protein powder, hemp seeds, or whatever else you feel like adding.  

6.  My scones and breads of course! :)

Again, I would love to hear what your favorite breakfast is!  I'm always looking for new things to eat. 

I hope you all are having a great weekend.  :)