Product Review – Saloman Park Hydro Handset

Jannine Myers

Last year I reviewed the Simply Hydration hands-free water bottle and wrote great things about it because I loved being able to run with a bottle that could sit securely on my waist (held up by just the waistband of my shorts), and have my hands completely free. This year I am pleased to write more great things about another water bottle that’s not quite hands-free, but almost!

The Saloman Park Hydro Handset is a 16oz. soft flask that wraps around your hand and wrist with a velcro strap. It can be worn on either the top or underside of the left or right hand. One of it’s unique features is that because it’s a soft flask, it “deflates” as you drink from it. It’s also unique in that it has a spill-proof lid with a bite valve that allows for a higher flow rate. All of these features make it really easy to drink while running, but without having to disrupt your run pace.

Additionally, the Hydro Handset comes attached to a mesh zip-up pocket that’s large enough to hold a set of keys and an ID card, or a gel if you are planning on running a little longer. This flask, while it may look a little bizarre to some, is in my opinion one of the best hydration systems available for short runs in hot and humid weather.

If you don’t like hand-held bottles in general (because you detest running with anything in your hands), you might be pleasantly surprised with this particular product. I sometimes run with my Amphipod hand-held bottle (usually on mid-distance runs), and although I have gotten used to running with it I still tire of having to “hold” it; the Hydro Handset solves that problem entirely. Overall it’s just a really great product and one that I highly recommend.

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If you’d like to try this handset, use our WOOT discount code and order from RunningWarehouse.com – you’ll receive 15% off and shipping is free :)

Moist Banana Coconut and Goji Bread

This is a nice dense but moist bread, with just the right amount of sweetness and a delicious combination of flavors. Did you know by the way, that the goji berry is native to China, and that it has traditionally been favored throughout Asia as a natural and effective treatment for various health problems? It’s also been suggested by researchers that the goji berry may help to improve athletic performance! I’m not too sure about that, but it doesn’t hurt to eat them and they taste pretty good :)

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Ingredients

1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/4 shredded unsweetened coconut

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk (any kind)

1/8 cup coconut oil

1 ripe banana

1/4 cup goji berries

 

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl beat together the eggs, milk, oil, and banana. Mix the wet and dry ingredients and stir in the goji berries. Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes.

Adapted from this recipe

 

Kids Won’t Eat Healthy Just Because You Tell Them To

Jannine Myers

I published a post recently about teenagers participating in short-term cleanses, and I advocated the advice of nutrition experts who suggested that a safer and more effective way to teach kids good nutrition habits is to model healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors. I want to expand on that concept a little further.

This summer, my younger daughter has been busy expending a ton of energy through the various sports that she’s been participating in (swim, dance, and gymnastics). In an effort to ensure that her body is being well-nourished, I’ve been including her in both the selection and preparation of our meals and snacks. Her involvement at the store and in the kitchen has made a huge difference in her willingness to try new foods and I’m convinced now that this is one of the best ways to turn a picky eater into a more health-conscious eater.

Modeling healthy eating behaviors is also important – I witnessed for example, the power of this just last week at the swimming pool. A mom was sitting beside me with her two younger daughters while her oldest was taking a swimming lesson. The two younger girls, aged approximately four and six, broke into the following conversation:

  • 6-year old: “Mom, can we have pizza tonight, I really want pizza!”
  • 4-year old: “Oh no, pizza is BAD! Mommy, don’t give us pizza.”
  • 6-year old: “But I like pizza, I want pizza!”
  • 4-year old: “No! We should eat like mommy. Mommy eats HEALTHY!”
  • 4-year old: “Mommy, you need to make us chicken, and wice, and bwoccoli!”

Role-modeling doesn’t work with every kid, but it does help to shape and influence children’s perceptions of food as they grow up, and with any luck they’ll eventually adopt healthier eating habits by the time they’re young adults.

So, two key points:

  1. Involve your kids in the food selection and preparation process
  2. Set the example

Here’s a recipe to get you and your kids started in the kitchen – it’s one that my daughter really enjoyed making and one that we all enjoyed eating:

Granola Cups

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Unsweeted Apple Sauce
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/3 Shredded Coconut
1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seed
1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds
1/4 Cup Dried Blueberries, Cranberries or other dried fruit1 cup fat free greek yogurt
Fruit of your choice for toppings: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana slices
Directions:
1. To a small sauce pan, add the coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, and salt.
Heat until all ingredients are combined. Remove from heat and stir in the apple sauce and vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl mix together the oats, coconut, flax seed, almonds and cranberries.
3. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until completely coated.
4. Place the mixture into the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool.
5. When ready to bake, grease up a muffin tin and fill each opening about 2/3 full.
Using your fingers press into the center of the hole and then work your way around the edges to form a bowl. If the dough is sticky, wet your fingers with cold water, shake them out, and proceed. Repeat as necessary.
6. Place the bowls into an oven preheated to 325 degrees. For regular sized muffin cups, cook about 20-25 minutes. For mini muffin cups, cook about 15-20 minutes.
Let cool completely before removing from the tin.
7. Store in an air tight container. When ready to eat, fill with the yogurt of your choice. Top with fresh fruit and enjoy!
Original Recipe Source here
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Making the granola cups – Step one
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The next morning: okay, so I cut her some slack and let her indulge in a few chocolate chips :)
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Delicious – and filling!

Recipes From Friends – Part Two

In my previous post I shared a delicious quinoa and roasted sweet potato layered salad; in this post I’m sharing with you a recipe that has been passed on my good friend Laura King (although she admitted that the recipe is actually one that was passed on to her from her mother). These spiced bran muffins are awesome, but a word of warning – Laura and I love these muffins because they are a common bakery item in New Zealand and not unfamiliar to us. But if you’re not used to eating bran muffins, you may find the taste and texture unappealing.

A quick word about wheat bran before I post the recipe: most grains have a hard outer layer, which when separated from the grains, is known as bran. Wheat bran is a great dietary source of fiber, and therefore an excellent recipe addition for anyone looking to increase their daily intake of fiber. If you can’t find it here in Okinawa, you can order it online from Vitacost.com.

Spiced Bran Muffins 

Ingredients

1 cup of bran

3/4 cup milk

2 tbsps golden syrup (this is a syrup we use in New Zealand, and it really does make all the difference in taste, but a good enough substitute would probably be maple syrup or honey)

1/4 cup sultanas or raisins

3/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger (be generous with this, it’s worth it!)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

Directions

Combine bran, milk, golden syrup and sultanas in a bowl. Let sit for 5 mins. Add dry ingredients to bran mixture. Add sugar and beaten egg. Loosely stir mixture to combine. Bake at 180C (350F) for 18-20 mins.

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Recipes From Friends – Part One

This week I’m featuring a couple of recipes that were passed on to me – the first is a quinoa and roasted sweet potato layered salad, and the second is a spiced bran muffin (to follow in a consecutive post).

Quinoa And Roasted Sweet Potato Layered Salad

My good friend and fellow athlete Mark Busam, came across this recipe online and sent it to me to try. I’m so glad he did because this salad is somehow light, yet comfortably filling, and the different flavors work really well together. Best of all, the ingredient list contains foods that are full of wholesome nutrients – perfect for athletes looking for a quality post-workout meal.

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Ingredients

  • 1 small sweet potato, unpeeled, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/4 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cups greens (you choose)
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon salted sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
  • Dressing:
    • 1/4 cup mango, fresh or frozen
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl, add oil, and stir to coat. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a pan, and roast for 20 or so minutes, stirring a couple times, until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Place the quinoa and half a cup of water in a covered pot on high. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is all soaked up and the quinoa is tender.
  4. Puree the mango with the balsamic vinegar and water, and set aside.
  5. Allow the roasted potatoes and quinoa to cool to room temperature.
  6. Start layering the salad, starting with the black beans. Add the cooked quinoa, and pour the mango balsamic vinaigrette on top.
  7. Top with diced red pepper, greens, roasted sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, and seeds.
  8. Store in the fridge.
  9. When you’re ready to eat, mix everything up and enjoy!

The original recipe offers a “make-in-a-jar” version, but I layered the ingredients directly in a salad bowl.

 

 

It was the best of races, it was the worst of races…

mt fuji Running to the Summit of Fujisan.

This is the tale of two races: one trail race up to 5th station and the second up the volcanic rock path to the top.

From the entry to the completion of this race, Fuji Summit race is tough. The first thing the race committee tells you is true: do not underestimate the toughness of this course. You have to be prepared to run for four hours and thirty minutes up from Fujiyoshida city hall to the summit of the mountain, continually up for 13.1 miles and total of about 10,000 feet. There is no break and rarely a flat section. It is all incline, and in the first hour, my lower back reminded me that core strength is more important on this race specifically.

Perspective:

If you’ve never climbed Fuji: the faster average climbers start at 5th station and climb to the summit in about 4 hours, a distance of about 4 miles. Yes, 1 mile per hour. To get to 5th station, climbers take a bus from the city and get dropped off and then begin to make their way up to the top.

In this race, 5th station is the 9th mile with a strict cutoff time of 2 hours and 20 minutes. If you hit that wicket, you get 2 hours to race up the last 4.1 miles.

About the course:

The first mile and a half are through the city and everyone is silently jostling for position nearer to the front. Jessey was elbowed hard about four times and I was tripped. I steadied myself by grabbing onto the men next to me. If I was going down, we all were. Luckily, I caught myself before the fall and kept moving forward.

Soon, the course leaves the city of Fujiyoshida and starts into the beautiful forest area, like nothing that we have on Okinawa. It is old growth pines, tall and lovely. No wild tropical jungle growth. Do not guess that it was not hot and humid; it was. The temp was around 80 degrees with 92% humidity at 7 am, which is the same as Okinawa. We were all drenched with our own sweat and struggle as we continually climbed.

The race then went onto a beautiful trail that had large sections that were full of stones. Racers had to pick their way around these sections as running through the middle looked painful and much tougher. What would normally be a wide trail, formed into a single track in many areas.

This trail leads on to 5th station, were the race changes completely into a different race.

About 80% of the racers, do not make the cutoff time at 5th station and walk right straight through the check point and onto the bus going down the mountain. We too missed our cutoff by about 10 minutes but decided we were going to run to the summit anyway. We got caught in the flow of DNF’ers and followed along until we sussed out we were going the wrong way. We hopped up on another trail and started back up, which added about 1 mile onto our course.

And then we went up. The trail up Fuji is loose volcanic rock. Each step feels like you slide back half way before you move forward, and becomes quite mentally challenging and frustrating. There is no purchase. We have nothing like that except the deep sand of the beaches, but those don’t go up.

The trail we run up is Yoshida trail, which is the steepest and toughest. Many, many sections, you have to use hands to help climb up. As you look up the mountain, it feels as if you are going nowhere. Your GPS will only confirm how slowly you are moving, too. Two miles an hour sounds crazy slow, but climbing straight up at times at mile 11 of a race, is fast.

And once you get to the top, you have to run back down to pick up your drop bag and meet the bus to take you to the finishing ceremony. Since we were about an hour behind the racers, we ran hard down the mountain, to 5th station in 55 minutes. Now that was run of a lifetime!

The altitude:

One thing us island girls cannot train in or simulate is altitude. I was expecting this and trained in the heat of the Okinawa summers to help, but still felt winded after running a short way. Part of the difficulty of this race is that most of the racers are from the area. The course record holders are from or live around the Fuji area and have access to high altitude training.

Summing up:

If you are looking for a tough, competitive race, this is it. There is no camaraderie that you may expect on a trail course. Due to the difficulty and stress on the racers, it was the quietest race I had ever run. No one said a word, and I could hear the heavy breathing of many runners around me. Everyone was giving it their all. The time restraints and high altitude are particularly challenging for us island living and loving people Although we missed the cutoff of this year, we have already begun training for next year. Hopefully a year of training will be enough to meet the demands of this challenge of two races rolled into the Fujisan summit race.

 

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!