Don’t Throw Those Smooshy Over-Ripe Bananas Away!

TURN THEM INTO THESE:

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For a naturally sweetened and deliciously healthy snack that the kids will enjoy too, try this recipe.

Banana Chia Muffins (Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine ground sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup choc chips
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place your chia seeds and water in the blender and set aside to soak for about 5-7 mins.
  2. Into a large bowl, sift together flours, sea salt, baking soda and baking powder and set aside.
  3. If your coconut oil is solid, warm it in a saucepan over low heat until liquid. Add lemon juice, dates, vanilla and coconut oil to chia/water and blend until smooth.
  4. In another large bowl, mash 1 1/2 bananas with a fork. Chop the remaining 1/2 banana and set aside (you will fold in later).
  5. Add the blended chia mixture to the mashed banana. Fold in the flour mixture. Fold in nuts, choc chips, and remaining banana.
  6. Bake for 20-25 mins, or until a knife comes out clean.

Best eaten warm!

Taken from this recipe, and slightly modified.

 

Ultimate Direction “Ultra Vesta” Hydration Pack – Review

Jannine Myers

Introducing the Ultra Vesta:

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I was catching up on some posts recently – by some endurance athletes in one of the Facebook groups I belong to – and one particular post caught my eye. One of the female athletes had posted about a 50k race she had just completed, and underneath her comments was a picture of herself at the finish line. I couldn’t help noticing the hydration pack she was wearing, and I was keen to find out what it was and where she got it from.

A few weeks later I received the same hydration pack (the timing was perfect actually – right before my birthday so I dropped a subtle hint to my husband) – it’s the Ultra Vesta from Ultimate Direction, designed by Jenny Jurek and a team of helpers. There are so many things I love about this pack that I’m not sure where to begin!

For starters, it fits me so perfectly that it almost feels as if it was designed with exactly my body dimensions in mind (it comes in two sizes – XS/SM and MD/LG). And because it fits so snugly, in a non-constricting way, there’s no bothersome “bouncing.” The water in the reservoir does make a sloshing noise however, but after a while it’s no longer noticeable.

Besides the convenient ergonomical fit, I love that it has the capacity to hold up to 70 oz. of fluid in the back reservoir, and an additional 20 oz. of fluid in two 10 oz. bottles on the front side of the pack. I like to fill the reservoir with water, and the bottles with my choice of sports drink, Hammer Perpetuum.

Below the holsters, which hold the 10 oz. bottles, are pockets large enough to hold gels and other energy fuels, as well as a cellphone, ID, and car keys. In the back of the pack are bungee cords intended to stabilize the load, but they’re also useful for securing a windbreaker or raincoat. The back of the pack even has loops for an ice axe and two trekking poles!

This hydration pack is seriously the best I have ever tried, but to give a completely honest review I need to point out a few minor flaws:

  • The pack is sold without the 70 oz. reservoir; you need to purchase the reservoir separately, which makes for a fairly expensive piece of running gear by the time it’s all said and done with. Also, the reservoir wasn’t in stock when I tried to order it, so I ended up having to buy a Camelbak reservoir from the base exchange. I initially bought a Camelbak 70 oz. reservoir but it was too large and I had to exchange it for a 50 oz one – I can only assume that the 70 oz. reservoir sold by Ultimate Direction is a perfect fit for the Ultra Vesta.
  • The bungee cords can be a bit of a nightmare if you have long hair like I do. At least twice now, I’ve had to carefully untangle my hair from the bungee cords.
  • On my last run with the pack I ended up with chaffed shoulders. But since it didn’t happen on previous runs I’m pretty sure it can be fixed with a slight adjustment of the straps (or, I guess I could just wear a t-shirt).

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These tiny flaws aside, this pack is worth buying if you are a serious endurance runner. Check it out here, at Ultimate Direction!

A “Zesty” And Refreshing Sherbet

If you have a blender or food processor then you need to treat yourself to some home-made frozen treats. I don’t know about you, but the heat and humidity is really starting to sap my energy and make me hungry for COLD food. To satisfy my recent cravings for an icy cold sweet treat, I made the following pineapple ginger sherbet – it’s incredibly refreshing and the ginger gives it a nice bite:

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Ingredients

1 bag frozen pineapple chunks

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup coconut or organic sugar (or less if you prefer)

1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped

 

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a blender or processor and pulse until a smooth consistency forms. Store in an airtight container and freeze.

 

Are Short-Term Cleanses Okay For Your Teenagers?

Jannine Myers

Several weeks ago I saw a brief news clip about a group of moms and young teens participating in a 2-week cleanse. The objective was to see if they could tolerate a mostly raw-food diet, and also observe any noticeable differences in the way they felt.

I have written below a summary of that news clip, as I think it’s important for mothers to understand what they might be getting into by jumping on board with these types of short-term cleanses.

Girls having salad

 

Rainbeau Mars, creator of the 21-Day Superstar Cleanse, recently challenged moms and kids from her daughter’s school to participate in a 2-week cleanse. The challenge evolved after some of the moms expressed doubt that their children would eat the vegetable soup that Mars and her daughter had previously prepared at the school.

For two weeks, the kids and moms who had agreed to participate in the cleanse had to eat an all-raw, vegan diet that included things like kale salads, vegan pastas, and fruit smoothies. The idea, said Mars, was to show these kids and their moms that eating clean and healthy is not difficult and that the key is to just “keep it simple.”

Juice cleanse

Some nutrition and medical experts were quick however, to criticize the challenge. Rachel Beller (Nutritionist, M.S., R.D.), was adamant that it’s not a short-term cleanse that kids need, but a “clean-up act.” Beller explained that a permanent reduction in processed and sugary foods would be a far more suitable solution.

Dr. Richard Besser, a pediatrician and ABC News Chief Medical Editor, also had some concerns about the 2-week cleanse. “This is wrong in so many ways,” he said, and he gave three reasons why:

  1. Short-term cleanses teach people that they can eat lousy, or follow a fad diet, and if necessary resort to a short detox or cleanse to “fix” the undesirable results of their poor eating habits.
  2. From a scientific perspective, a short-term cleanse can falsely educate kids by convincing them that detox diets are more effective than the natural cleansing ability of their kidneys and liver.
  3. These kids are being introduced to a very “casual” approach to veganism. If they decide to pursue a vegan lifestyle as a result of participating in the cleanse, they run the risk of unintentionally malnourishing themselves.

Besser also warned that kids who try short-term cleanses could potentially seek out more restrictive diets if one of the outcomes of the cleanse is weight loss. Girls in particular, may be motivated to try and continue losing weight by either prolonging the duration of the cleanse or by adding further restrictions to an already limited diet.

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Mars insisted that the cleanse is not about weight loss, but about the health benefits of clean-eating, and also about igniting an awareness in kids of where exactly their food is coming from and what they are putting into their bodies.

Despite Mars’ well-meaning intentions, Besser suggests that there is a better way to teach kids how to enjoy healthier eating habits. It’s all about making nutrition a part of their lives, he says, and parents need to model the behavior they hope their children will adopt.

A good place to start is by turning nutrition into a family project where once a week, moms and kids shop together and buy local and seasonal produce (a good idea is to choose one or two vegetables that haven’t been tried before). The next step would be to choose a healthy recipe that utilizes the bought produce, and then cook a family meal together.

A family project which involves a regular commitment to learning and doing together, is a much more effective way to teach kids good nutritional habits that will lead to long-term change. “A 2-week cleanse,”says Besser, “simply won’t do that.”

That’s the summary of the news clip I saw, and as much as I admire Mars’ intentions I’m more inclined to agree with Registered Dietitian Rachel Beller, and Dr. Richard Besser. Having two daughters of my own, I’d rather model daily dietary and lifestyle habits that will hopefully make such an impression on them that it would eventually seem “normal” to them to go for healthier foods versus not-so-healthy foods. I want them to understand that their food choices will determine their long-term health and therefore overall quality of life – they won’t learn that in two weeks.

Furthermore, in a follow-on interview with one of the girls who participated in the cleanse, the interviewer was impressed when the girl said that she was so hungry that she’d gladly eat a kale salad. The interviewer thought it was a great thing that the girl said she’d “gladly” eat a kale salad, but for me her response set off alarm bells. The girl was STARVING!

Fuel 100 Electro-Bites: Review

Jannine Myers

Fuel100 Electro-Bites

I had the opportunity recently to sample a new product from Fuel 100, and I am excited to share a brief review with you. I absolutely love Hammer Nutrition’s extensive line of quality fuels and supplements, but I’ve been searching for one specific type of endurance fuel to complete my training and racing needs – and I think I’ve finally found it!

One of the issues I have with long run fueling is that my stomach is sensitive and after 90 minutes or so of running, anything sweet tasting makes me feel ill. Hammer products work wonders for me (they are carefully formulated and do not contain any added simple sugars), but even so, when I am running for longer periods of time I start to develop an extreme distaste for anything sweet.

Fuel 100’s Electro-bites seem to be the perfect addition to my choice of endurance fuels. As soon as they hit your taste buds, the sensation is a really pleasant blend of both subtle sweetness and saltiness. The sweet taste is not over-powering and the salty taste seems to be exactly what I am craving after an hour or two of running.

Equally pleasant is the initial crunch that’s experienced when you take that first bite – then they quickly dissolve, eliminating any effort required to chew them.

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The nutritional information is impressive too:
Each 100 CALORIE SERVING contains –
  •  Organic Coconut Oil
  •  Organic Agave Syrup
  •  Potato Starch
  •  Sodium (190mg) , Magnesium (46mg), Potassium (55mg)
Nutrition Facts Serv. Size: 23 grams (23g), Servings: 1, Amount Per Serving: Calories 100, Fat Cal. 40, Total Fat 4.5g (7% DV), Sat. Fat 4g (20% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Sodium 190mg (8% DV), Potassium 55mg (2% DV), Magnesium 46mg (10%DV) Total Carb. 14g (5% DV), Sugars 2g, Protein 0g, Calcium (2% DV), Vitamin D (25% DV), Vitamin E (15% DV), Vitamin B6 (10% DV), Vitamin B12 (30% DV). Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Calories per gram: Fat 9 • Carbohydrate 4 • Protein 4

 

The brainchild behind this great product is endurance athlete Michelle Halsne, who with the help of her friend and fellow athlete Andrea Bonaccorsi, hired a team of food and nutrition experts (you can read more about the creation of Electro-bites here). These ladies have succeeded in creating a really unique and appealing product, and I highly recommend you try it.

 

The flavors you can choose from include: Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice, Salty Vanilla, Salty Vinegar, and Simply Salty. The cost for a box of 6 packets is $13.20, but if you’re a member of WOOT, you can use our group discount code “woot20″ to receive 20% off (you can place your orders here).

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Overall: I really like this product – they are easy to eat while running, they taste great, and best of all they stave off the nauseous feeling sometimes brought on by sweeter endurance fuels.

 

#LikeAGirl

There has been some buzz about an ad with the hashtag, #likeagirl. Sarah shared this with WOOT and commented that it was interesting (and no product endorsement :)). As female athletes, what did you think of the ad? It is on youtube, if you want to watch.

We’re kicking off an epic battle to make sure that girls everywhere keep their confidence throughout puberty and beyond, and making a start by showing them that doing it #LikeAGirl is an awesome thing,” ‘Always’ wrote on the YouTube page.

If you watch the ad, the director asks the girls to run, throw, and fight like a girl and it falls in line with stereotypes that I have but never thought of before. Has this had an effect on us as women, as runners, triathletes, professionals in whatever job we have or have had? I don’t really know. Since most of us are past the point of puberty and have grown up with what we have learned, how can we separate that thought from our actions? One of our originals, Kathleen took a photo with her friend and their daughters after their latest trail run together, with SoCal WOOT. She mentioned we should have something about starting “an ad campaign.’Run Like Your Mom’ with some really gritty pics (:”.

#RunLikeYourMom

#RunLikeYourMom

I love that idea. Or how about, #runlikeyourtraillovinmomma. We may not be able to change the stereotype of what we knew as “like a girl”. Instead, we can keep setting examples of what being a strong, athletic woman is for our daughters. We can show them what it means to run like a girl, throw like a girl, do math like a girl, computer program, run companies, command battalions, lead nations…

Best Home-Made Gluten-Free Bread

Have you noticed that the gluten-free breads available in the commissary are really not that tasty? I have. Since I follow a mostly gluten-free diet, I started searching for gluten-free bread recipes in an effort to find a better-tasting bread. I tried a few different recipes and was about to give up when I came across this one at healthfulpursuit.com (although I made a couple of minor modifications).

This bread, made with teff flour and arrowroot starch, is moist and delicious! It is especially good when eaten warm or toasted, with a slight spread of butter and raw honey – but you can get as creative as you like with topping choices. I love this bread and recommend that you give it a try – it’s a very easy (and pretty forgiving) recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups warm water (100F to 110F)
  • 1 package dry active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup nut butter – I used almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups teff flour

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  • 1 cup arrowroot starch

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  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoons sea salt

Directions

  1. Lightly oil an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with a small dab of whatever oil you have on hand.
  2. Place the warm water and teaspoon of coconut sugar into a small bowl. Make sure the water is the right temperature. If the water is too cold the yeast will not become active and if the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. Add the yeast and stir. Proof the yeast by allowing it to stand for 5 to 10 minutes. It should become bubbly, if not start over with fresh yeast and water.
  3. Add nut butter, oil, and ground flax seeds. Stir well with a spoon, just until mixed. Allow to sit again for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in vinegar.
  5. Meanwhile, add flour, starch, chia and salt to a large mixing bowl.
  6. Pour in wet ingredients and stir well to mix thoroughly.
  7. Transfer dough to your prepared loaf pan and flatten top with the back of a spoon. Cover pan with a towel and allow to rest in a very warm spot to rise. Let it sit for 60 minutes.
  8. Then, bake in a 350F oven for 35- 40 minutes – until top is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out relatively clean. The bread will firm up and continue cooking out of the oven.
  9. Allow loaf to cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan and placing on a wire rack to cool. Cool completely, for an hour, then cut into slices.
  10. Can be stored in an air-sealed bag for 2 days on the counter, in the fridge for 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. The bread does firm up after 2 days so it’s best to heat (or toast) before enjoying.

 

Destination Unmarked

All through the month of June, we have been running FOOT or family and friends on trail, runs. It has been great to have our spouses, our friends and new faces show up and join in the challenging fun of miles and miles of jungle trail. Along with this, we have run the same trail, Spider plus Blurry Vision plus to the Reservoir and back. This has been partially selfish as I train for the Mt. Fuji half-marathon and need to run hilly, tough trail and what better way, then to invite all my favorite women and favorite fellas to join me.

Additionally, we are all getting to know the trail pretty well. This is selfish too, and the more WOOT’rs who know the trails, the better, as we all run different paces and distances and hopefully no one ever gets left behind.

So why not mark the trails? We have before, with a washable paint. After a few rains, it was all gone and we were okay with that. Part of why I love trails, is because it is still wild, and isn’t marked. Monday through Friday, I drive to work, taking the 58, stopping at red lights, going when they turn to green, and start my work day. On Saturday, I wake up early and drink a cuppa Joe. Then I go out and run to the trails. Destination is known but unmarked. Which way to turn, which way to go? It is not set in stone, it’s up to you to chose which way to go. Turn back and go home? Take a left and see what is down that path? Climb the hill and see what is on the horizon?

Trail includes adventure

Trail includes adventure

The plus side of getting lost is you get more miles and are out longer. At any point, you can turn around and go back home. This means you will also need to pay a little attention to where you are. As long as you stay on trail, you won’t be lost too long anyway. For those challenged with directions, it is very good to have a cell phone. The downside is you may not be prepared to be out that long, or you may have to be somewhere off trail soon. Getting lost can be a little scary, but the scary things in life also make it exciting, don’t they? (Foreshadow that after June, the trail is going to change.)

Hope you all enjoyed June, month of Family and Friends on Okinawa Trails. Comment if you want more FOOT runs, or less in our future runs.

WOOT comes together, thank you!

WOOT comes together, thank you!

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Every week, we get together to run. After four and a half years, this still amazes me and I am thankful. Last week, as we all stood around talking about our lives, our families, what we had done that week, and what we were about to conquer, I found myself asking what is it that brings us together, every week, Saturday early morning, after Saturday early morning to hit the dirt and have fun?

For me, I love seeing a group of women run together: the camaraderie, the friendships developing both new and old, the encouragement. That is what has pulled me to set that Saturday alarm before the sun arises, when it feels like the rest of humanity is sleeping in, enjoying a warm snuggle-filled bed.

How about you? What brings you out to join us?

I did a little reading on group running, trying to find out why we do this. On the Boston marathon site, I struck upon a possible answer: Running with a group is one of the most effective things an athlete can do to help his or her training (baa.org).

That is it! Not only do we enjoy running together, it makes us better runners. Thinking more on this, I see how we encourage each other, and being females, we prop each other up, instead of talking smack. I’ve yet to see another woman do that, ever, in fact. No judgment, no gossip, just feet on trail and lots of oxygen.

Ever have one of those days, or weeks when you don’t care about running, or feel too overwhelmed to get out, or just feel sluggish? We all do. But the beauty of our group of trail-loving women is that we are here, ready to run, every week. Our running paces are different, goals of the run varied and we come from every facet of life. And we still cheer each other on!!

So to be a better runner, find a group (ours is a really, really, REALLY good one, btw!), go out and run with the group and encourage your team mates. Pay it forward every week with us.

Stairway to Heaven

Every Thursday, WOOT meets to run the stairs that climb up and up, seemingly all the way to Heaven, otherwise known as The Stairway to Heaven. Why run stairs?

Oooooh, makes me wonder…

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Stair running introduces a whole new level of fitness. The steepness of the climb up pushes your heart rate through the roof quickly, which pushes you to breathe harder. Your body responds and begins to change to allow for greater V02 max, which roughly equates to your cardiovascular strength. The higher the number, the better in shape you are.

A greater VO2 max means you can run harder and for longer durations. A study in theBritish Journal of Sports Medicine found that short bouts of stair-climbing five days a week for eight weeks improved VO2 max by 17 percent among young women.


Also, the motion of pushing up and off the stairs, uses muscles that we don’t use enough in regular paved running. It’s plyometrics at its best, and your butt, quads and calves will thank you for it later (by complaining about being sore for a few days).

Our WOOT run on Thursdays includes a warm up hill run of about 1 mile. Then we each take on the stairs at our own pace and ability that day.

A few different workouts to try:

  • Go up as many as you can, as fast as you can. Repeat.
  • Climb the grassy hill next to the stairs, run down as fast as you can (talk about adrenaline rush and quad crusher!).
  • Tabata: 10 seconds climb as hard as you can with 15 seconds easy or rest X 8 or to the top.
  • Run to each landing, do 10 pushups, burpees, squats, lunges, crunches, jumping jacks, anything!

When you get to the top, enjoy the view as you start back down. If you haven’t tried this run yet, I hope you will say yes! and come out for a real treat.

References:

http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/why-stair-climbing-is-good-for-runners

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plyometrics