Running 13.1

Ah, the Half Marathon. A challenging yet totally doable distance for most of us. A distance you can run just to complete the distance itself, but also a distance short enough that those non-elite runners (myself included) can set some nice time PR’s as well. The Half Marathon is my second favorite distance to run, succeeded only by the 25k. I really only like the 25k better because it’s usually on trails, and trails are far superior to roads in my running book. 

I was granted the opportunity to actually train a group of people to run a Half this semester. Get paid to run? YES PLEASE. I teach fitness classes at a state college and we’re able to pitch ideas for new classes to our boss each semester. Running 13.1 was my pitch at the end of Spring 2012, and they put it on the calendar for this Fall. We are currently in our second week of training, and I am in love with this class. I’ve got seven runners, 3 of which are running a decent pace of about 9 or 9:30 per mile. One runner is a little slower, maybe a 10:30 mile. The last three are right around 11:30 or 12. So, a little more challenging than I’d first thought…I spend most of my runs sprinting up to the people in the lead, jogging back to the ones behind, run/walking with them for a minute or so, and sprinting back to the ones up ahead. Thus their 3 mile run yesterday was more like 5.5 for me. 

What I love more than anything in this class, though, is these people’s motivation. The ones that always take the lead will definitely complete the half-  3 of them have already signed up. The three that bring up the rear told me up front they don’t plan on completing the half, they just want to learn how to run without walking. I’m hoping to convince them to sign up for the 5k instead of the Half and train to complete it without walking. 

One girl in particular makes me beam with pride. On our first run she told me she had been totally sedentary for 2 years. No workouts. Not a single one. I couldn’t help but thinking she needed to drop my class. She ended up going back to the classroom about a half mile into the run.

After class she said she wanted to stick with it and asked if she could. This immediately changed my mind about thinking she should drop my class. This girl, who hadn’t worked out in two years, who had to basically quit on our first 2 mile run, wanted to stick with it. Now that is determination at it’s finest. Our next run, a 5k, she completed in 51 minutes by run walking. If she can run/walk a 5k in 51 minutes after being sedentary for 2 yeas, surely she can get to a point where she can run a 5k without stopping by April 28! She seems really excited to do it. Her time for that same 5k loop yesterday? 48 minutes. 

This is the whole reason I wanted to teach this class. If just one person in my class becomes inspired to stick with it, to get out there and run even when they are the last person to finish, to push through and run a little farther before a walk break, to add another tenth of a mile, this makes my time and effort more than worth it. 

I am a proud proud running mama!

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Hot Damn I’m in a Headstand!

Those were the words I uttered (hollered) when I pulled my knees to my chest and pushed my feet into the air all on my own for the first time. Appropriately so, because I was in hot yoga. Hot damn, indeed. Since then I feel the need to do headstands at any given opportunity. I was working on (the very inkling of a thought of beginning) handstands with my mentor on Friday and so of course we took the opportunity to snap a photo of my leaning tower of headstand. I didn’t realize i leaned until I looked at the picture, but whatever people, it’s progress! Check it out.

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Ignore my demon eyes, I just want ya’ll to know I can do a headstand.

Onto more delicious things, like muffins.

When I went Paleo I had this idea that I was never going to eat baked goods again. Ha! All I’ve really done is perfected Paleo baking.

No, not really. Because my muffins the other day were a pancake recipe gone wrong. I was out of bananas, so I used pumpkin puree instead. Should work, right? Yes, unless you accidentally add an extra tablespoon of coconut flour, and then realize you have no coconut milk. EFF!!! So I sat, looking forlornly at my much too thick pancake batter, wondering what the hell we were going to eat for breakfast. Then it dawned on me. Muffin batter is really just thick pancake batter that rises, right? So I added some baking soda and put that batter in my super-see-duper awesome silicon muffin pans. Is it still a pan if it’s silicon? Hmmm.

This is what came out.Image

What the yum.

This is what went in ’em.

  • 1/3 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • a bunch of cinnamon (depending on how much you love cinnamon, up to a tablespoon)
  • pinch nutmeg, ginger, and cloves
  • 1/4-1/3 cup raisins

Mix together everything but raisins, I used my hand mixer. Fold in raisins. Grease muffin tin with coconut oil or use muffin cups. Divide evenly into muffin tin. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Image

When the tiny peaks are starting to brown like in the pic above, they’re done.

Know what I did next? Threw some grassfed butter on that bad boy and gobbled it up. Ok maybe I gobbled three up. Details, whatev.

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So this morning, I’d agreed to sub a yoga class at 8 am. WHY DO I CONTINUE TO SAY YES TO EARLY CLASSES?!?!?! Thus, no time for bacon frittatas. We had fresh blueberries and my kiddo had mentioned blueberry muffins, so I figured I’d see how well it worked with a banana and blueberries instead of pumpkin and raisins. And it was DELICIOUS. Duh. Here’s what went into these:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a bunch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of blueberries

Same as with the pumpkin muffins, mix it all together sans blueberries. Fold in the blueberries, and put them into greased muffin tins (or use paper muffin cups). Bake at 375 for ten or so minutes. I should have made a double batch of these.

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The fresh blueberries really made the difference.

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Next time i’m thinking some coffee and chocolate chunks will be appropriate mix ins!

Hot Yoga (As in Heated, not Sexy)

My stepmom asked me what hot yoga was the other day, as I was going to be there when she dropped off my new bike. 

Apparently she was not picturing yoga done in just under 100 degrees, but rather a very sexy flow of come hither postures. If you’ve ever done hot yoga, you know ain’t nothin’ very sexy going on as you try to twist yourself into a variety of backbends and balances all while sweating profusely from pores you never even imagined you had. 

So this new yoga studio opened, the only hot yoga studio we have in town. They ran a Groupon that was a screaming deal in and of itself ($29 for a month of unlimited. They usually charge $100.) And as if it were meant to be, I got an email from Groupon that same day telling me I got 10 bucks off my next Groupon purchase. NINETEEN DOLLARS for my whole sweaty month. I went 4 times a week the first two weeks. It was amazing. I detoxed and detoxed and detoxed some more. 

I loved it. I really did. However, I felt like maybe I needed a break, so I haven’t been back since Saturday (it is not Thursday). 

Like most things I do, I believe I overdid the hot yoga. The instructors at the studio are amazing. They’re great, and I can easily pop up into a headstand now thanks to one of them. I’m also beginning to work on handstands. I just think 4 days a week on top of the 20+ hours I already teach drained the hell out of me. 

So I’m going back on Sunday, and finishing out my Groupon. Then going back once a week as a drop in. There’s something extremely gratifying about a cold river rock being placed on your third eye during savasana after you’ve pushed yourself beyond the brink for an entire hour. And when the classes are small, they give tiny shoulder rubs with mint lotion that feels like that icy/hot stuff, but better. So yeah, I’ll totally pay that $15 drop-in once a week. 

And maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll look sexier when I come out of the studio.

 

Misadventures in Coconut Milk

Ever get burned by coconut milk?

Ever think you’d even have to consider that question? Yeah, me either. Until last night.

About twice a week I make my own coconut milk. That crap from the store in a carton is loaded with, well…crap. Highly processed corn derivatives, sweeteners, yuck. And making it is super easy. Some chipped coconut, some boiling H2O, Vitamix, boom. Coconut milk.

Unless your three year old flips the “variable” switch to “high” without you realizing it. For those of you non-Vitamix users, you can put your Vitamix on high and when you turn it on you go from zero to F5 tornado inside the blender. Or, you can keep the switch on variable, start the blender low, and crank it up to F5 slowly. The latter is the way to go, unless of course you’d like to cover your kitchen in whatever it is your blending. Or, give yourself lovely burns on your forearm and forehead.

Because that is seriously what happened. Vitamix filled to max line, variable switch set to high, BOOM.

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Note the chipped coconut on the blender. I’ve been sweeping it up off the floors of not only the kitchen, but the dining room and living room as well. Aside from the fact that it felt like someone had set a small smoldering fire on my forearm and along the hairline of my forehead for the majority of the night and into this morning, I believe I’ll survive.

Luckily I was able to enjoy a nice relaxing cup of hot green tea with honey and freshly made coconut milk to calm my nerves.

How to make your own coconut milk (without getting burned)

  • 1 cup chipped coconut
  • 3-4 cups boiling water

Place chipped coconut in Vitamix and pour boiling water in. Make damn sure that switch is set to variable and the nob is turned to one. Turn Vitamix on, slowly crank nob up to 10. Let blend at F5 tornado force for about 1 minute. The longer you blend, the more coconutty the milk will taste, and the more coconut fat you’ll accumulate on the top once it’s cooled.

The coconut milk will need to be strained. I use cheesecloth over my container secured with a rubber band. Pour contents a little at a time into container through the cheesecloth. When there’s a pile of coconut bits on the cheesecloth, take it off, rinse, and replace.

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Continue until all the coconut milk is strained. Store in container* in refrigerator. I have absolutely no idea how long it stays good, as I use mine up in about 3 or 4 days.

*I started this post about a week ago and completely forgot about it. As I went through re-reading, I realized I make my coconut milk in a plastic container. What am I thinking?! Pouring near-boiling liquid into a plastic container…it’s BPA free, but I’m sure that high heat is causing release of God knows what toxins into my coconut milk. I’ll be purchasing a glass container to use in the future, and you should too!

Can Your Tongue Have an Orgasm?

The first time I ever saw a butternut squash I was dumbfounded. I mean it’s kind of intimidating at first, right? All bell shaped and the color of a dreamsicle and stuff. Squash in general used to kind of baffle me, but particularly the butternut variety. The first thing I learned to make with a butternut squash was soup. Creamy, velvetty, sweet, delicious butternut squash soup.

I used to make it using Greek yogurt. Then the Paleoness happened, and I had to find something else. So like everything else in my Paleo cooking experience, I pulled out a can of full fat coconut milk. Talk about nectar of the Gods. This stuff is the dopeness. It goes good in coffee and tea, I use it as a substitute for milk when baking, you can pop open a can and leave it in the fridge over night then whip it as a replacement for whipped cream, or whip it then refrigerate again and re-whip to use as frosting on cakes or cupcakes, it’s the base in all of our veggie and fruit smoothies…basically I can’t live without coconut milk. Or coconut oil. Or coconut flour. Or chipped, shaved, or chopped coconut. My boyfriend thinks I was a coconut in a past life. I may very well turn into one in this life.

I think I got off track. Soup. Butternut Squash Soup. Oh yeeeaaahhhh. So, first I started substituting the Greek yogurt with coconut milk. That’s all I used, was squash and coconut milk. And it was delicious. Then I had some butternut squash soup at a restaurant and they had nutmeg in it.  And it was amazing. So I started sprinkling some of that in mine too. But then…oh, then. 

BACON.

Sorry veggie friends. It had to happen. It was kind of an accident. I needed to use up some bacon, and that naturally sweet squash combined with the saltiness of bacon just seemed so…perfect. And it is. It’s perfect. It’s easy and it’s delicious and it’s good for you and if your tongue could have an orgasm, this is what it would be. Maybe I should re-title this blog entry as Tongue Orgasm. <—-Nevermind, I did. It was originally Velveteen Soup. Tongue Orgasm > Velveteen Soup.

So if you’ve never had a tongue orgasm, make this soup as soon as humanly possible. Pretty sure winter squash season is coming to a close soon!

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(I’m a runner, a yogi, and a cook, not a photographer. But even taken on the iPhone with no filter that shit looks fantastic, yeah?!)

Butternut Squash Soup (aka La Lengua Orgasma)

  • 1 large or 2 small butternut squash
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (don’t make me ramble about how the fat in coconut milk is good for you, just buy the full fat kind!)
  • 2-3 strips bacon
  • 1/2 teaspoon-ish nutmeg

Roast the squash by cutting in half lengthwise, scooping out the seeds and guts, and laying face up on a cookie sheet. Put in oven at 400 F until you can easily poke the meat of the squash with a fork (45 mins-1 hour). Scoop meat out of skin and into your Vitamix (or Blendtec or food processor or blender). Add the can pf coconut milk and blend until smooth. If you like your soup thinner, add some regular old water, or I like to use home-made coconut milk because it’s thinner (like the coconut milk out of a carton. I suppose you could use that too if you like xanthum gum in your soup).

While the squash is roasting, fry your bacon until crispy. After it cools, chop it into bits. Serve soup in bowls (depending on the size of your squash, this will make 3-4 good sized bowls). Distribute nutmeg and bacon bits between bowls. Commence tongue orgasms. 

My Quest for The Holy Grail (or, Why the F%#k Don’t Paleo Pancakes Taste Like Pancakes!?)

I like love pancakes. Everything about them. I like them light and fluffy made with white flour, or hearty and thick made with whole grains. I like them with pumpkin puree mixed in, or topped with berries or bananas or chocolate chips and walnuts. No matter what you put on or in a pancake, it is delicious. Unless, of course, it is a Paleo pancake.

You know this if you’ve tried them. Paleo pancakes are not pancakes. They are eggy souffle type things that are incredibly hard to flip and almost always taste like crap. Since I went the way of the Caveman I have tried no less than 13 different Paleo pancake recipes. None of them were delicious. A few weren’t even edible. Not a single one had the texture of a pancake, that’s for damn sure. I mean, I get it. You can’t re-create the texture of grains if you don’t use grains. All I want is something very very close to a pancake, that is also delicious.

And so began my quest to CREATE the mufucka. Browsing through Paleo pancake recipes, I took note of all the different ingredients people used. Coconut flour. Tapioca flour. Almond flour. Almond butter. Eggs (50 bajillion of them). Baking soda, baking powder. Coconut milk. Bananas. Then I looked at the ones that turned into souffle le mess. All of these had at least three eggs, so I knew I had to limit the amount of unborn chickens in my Paleo pancakes. I’m a big fan of adding bananas for moisture in almost any bread-ish recipe, so I threw one in. And I decided to throw caution to the wind and add more coconut flour than any of the other recipes had used. I’m guessing they try to limit it because that stuff is peeeeee-ricey, but whatevs. I’m not looking for a cheap Paleo pancake, I’m looking for a yummy one.

And thus was born, my Paleo Pancake! Don’t get me wrong here. It’s not exactly like a pancake. I feel that Paleo pancakes will never get there. But it is a damn good substitution. It’s also still not particularly easy to flip, but it was easier than the multitude of other Paleo “pancake” recipes I’ve tried. It also turned out rather light and fluffy, almost like the inside of a real pancake!!! I get giddy just thinking about it. I used grassfed butter on my griddle because I was out of coconut oil, so the outsides browned extremely fast. I think if coconut oil was used you’d get a more golden brown pancake. I didn’t cook the second batch as long as the first, and the inside did turn out a little more souffle-ish, so I’m thinking the key with these suckers is a lower heat for a longer time. Since this was a trial run I also kept these free of any add-ins, but next time I might try some walnuts inside. They ended up tasting like a whole-grain pancake, but with a lighter texture.They were a bit salty, I’m guessing from the bakng soda, but I never use salt when I cook and I’m super sensitive to the way it tastes, so people who eat more salt may not even notice it. I was also out of maple syrup (make sure you’re using 100% pure organic maple syrup if you use some!) so I put grassfed butter and a little (by little I mean miniscule) honey on top. Overall I was damn pleased with myself, and so was my tummy. In the next batch I’ll probably cut a bit of the baking soda, and maybe add a little more almond butter.

Are you about to die in anticipation of the recipe? Fear not! Please let me know if yours turn out good, or if mine were a total fluke of nature and will be gross when I make them again (please God no, I can’t handle more pancake recipe searching!)

Recipe makes 4 pancakes about the size of my hand. The smaller you make them, the easier they are to flip.

  • One banana (the riper the better, overly ripe is great too)
  • One egg + one egg white
  • Two tablespoons coconut flour
  • One tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (remember my salty-ness)
  • One heaping 1/2 teaspon cinnamon
  • One tablespoon almond butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut milk

Mix everything but the coconut milk together. You can throw it all in a Vitamix (or blender of some sort) or mash everything with a fork in a bowl if you like your bananas chunky. Add coconut milk until you have a thick batter. Melt a half tablespoon grassfed butter or coconut oil on griddle. Cook over low heat, turning once, 3 ish minutes on each side (maybe longer, I’m a poor judge of time). Top with whatever sounds delicious to you and enjoy!

***Update***

I’ve made these pancakes 4 or 5 times since the original post, and they’ve turned out great each time. I was feeling like something particularly decadent the other morning, and this beast is what happened:

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I topped the pancakes with coconut whipped cream, raspberry reduction, and toasted coconut. It was like a berry bread pudding dessert almost. Yes, I ate 4 of them.

(Wo)man’s Best Friend

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My dog is a bastard. Seriously, he is the biggest bastard ever. He has obnoxiously stinky farts. He gets in my bed under the covers when he thinks I’m not paying attention. He constantly steals my son’s snacks directly from his hands. Technically, he’s not even my dog! He came as a part of the package deal when my boyfriend moved to Norman from Texas 4 months ago. Unfortunately for me, my boyfriend is the worst dog walker ever, and since LaMotta (for all you boxing fans out there, this dog only thinks he’s the raging bull- he’s pretty much the tiniest boxer ever) is a hyper hypo, I took it upon myself to start training him to walk properly. At first he was more concerned about eating his leash than anything else. Finally he learned to run with me. Sort of. The first mile is always me jerking the leash to get him to slow down to my pace (this dude’s all about sprints, but me…not so much). Getting to the point, I was completely remiss in walking LaMotta over the holidays. Between my kiddo being at home all day and then going on runcation to Florida, I’m pretty sure he got like, two walks in the last two weeks. So I take him out  to do our usual three miles and he acts like a total BASTARD! Again with the leash eating, this guy. And stopping every five minutes to sniff and pee, sniff and pee. The funny thing about LaMotta is he has most definitely become my dog since the running started. He wants to lay next to me. He wants to sit on my lap on the couch. Ohhhhhh….I love that bastard.