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Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

You know it’s finally fall weather in Southern California when you can stand to turn the oven on to make Healthier Banana Crumb Muffins (allrecipes.com) and at the same time turn the stove on to make pumpkin curry soup (According to Kelly — that recipe is so simple especially if you use canned organic pumpkin from Trader Joe’s, and you put the whole onion and garlic cloves in the blender with some of the chicken broth to make it smooth).

I had one kiddo home from school today with a fever/cold situation, so I took the opportunity to be extra-productive with my time at home and entertain the kiddo by letting her put the fruits and veggies into the Breville Juicer to make the beet juice. (Did you know that some research indicates that beet juice can help boost athletic performance?)

Just look at all these beauties!

fruits and vegetables

What’s in the bowl: purple, orange and yellow carrots with the carrot greens (organic so no peeling necessary), yellow beets (organic but peeled to reduce the earthy flavor of the beets, although next time I’ll just scrub well and leave on the skins), Rome apples (not peeled but cored — any variety of apple will do), and lemons and limes (peeled but with the white pith still on for that extra boost of vitamins).

According to the Breastfast Zinger Juice Recipe (allrecipes.com) you just toss them in to the juicer on a one-to-one ratio — one carrot to one beet to one apple to one lemon. I had a lot of produce to use up so I put in about six of each and ended up with about 36 ounces of juice (there’s a lot of foam on there but one really nice thing about the Breville container is that the lid is specially designed to hold back the foam when you pour the juice out!)

I love how it separated into these gorgeous colors. I did stir it before drinking, though!

I love how it separated into these gorgeous colors. I did stir it before drinking, though!

The juice turned out to be delicious! Full disclosure: my 6-year-old hated it and my 12-year-old loved it. The 9-year-old likes beets but is not a fan of beet juice (go figure) so I won’t be trying it on her.

The juicer intimidates me (the noise maybe? The violence of the “pressing” — it seems more like a wood chipper than a “presser” to me!) but it is super easy to use and surprisingly easy to clean. My other favorite juice recipe so far is Healthy Green Juice with green apples (any apples, really), kale, celery, cucumber, lemon and ginger. It’s got a kick to it but I love it!

Do you have a juicer? Do you have any recipes to share? (Feel free to post them in the comments or leave a link to your recipe!)

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Today I turned 43 years young! I took a few minutes this morning to reflect on the fact that I am more fit now than when I was 33 or even 23 (not when I was 13 though — I was a competitive swimmer then, training alongside Olympian Janet Evans before she became Olympian Janet Evans.)

My family spoiled me from the moment I got up this morning. I turned off the alarm on my cellphone and then checked my email to find that my husband had booked my airline tickets to Santa Rosa — that’s right, I’m headed back to Santa Rosa in September to run Ragnar Napa Valley with my college roommate Renee and the rest of the Ragnaritas!!

Then I saw that my 9-year-old chose to wear this shirt today:

I love mom

and she insisted on making my coffee for me in the Bodum French Press. She is very handy in the kitchen and she makes excellent coffee!

Also waiting on the counter for me was this beauty:

Breville Juice Fountain Duo

Breville Juice Fountain Duo

I have wanted a juicer for a long time and my husband got me the perfect one! And you’ve gotta love the note he left with it:

The note says "Boston Fuel Machine. Happy birthday!"

The note says “Boston Fuel Machine. Happy birthday!”

So, even though the cat threw up on the carpet this morning and I have to spend my birthday evening at the junior high for 2-3 hours of Back to School Night, it’s a very happy birthday indeed! P.S. I got the best birthday wishes on Facebook too. Someone knew just what I wanted:

Have a wonderful day and may you cross the finish line ever earlier.

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Four days and 13 hours to go until my fourth full marathon, The Santa Rosa Marathon on Sunday, August 24, 2014. I’ve reached the point where my stomach does a little nervous flip-flop when I think about the race. As usual, it’s ridiculous, and I wonder why I put myself through this. (Answer: The sense of accomplishment after every finish line and every workout).

Taper is going well. I knocked out a 6-mile tempo run on Sunday with five miles at an 8:00 pace. Monday I biked 15 miles and did 30 minutes of core work. Today is a rest day. Tomorrow’s speed workout is just 4 x 200 m with 200 m rest intervals, for a total of three miles with the warm-up and cool-down. Thursday is a rest day, Friday is 10 minutes of drills, Saturday is a rest day and Sunday is the big race day!

I’m busy worrying over a few things:

1. Weather — the race day temperature still looks favorable with the 6 a.m. temperature starting at 54 degrees and not going above the low 60s by 10 a.m. The problem is that in the early morning hours the humidity is nearly 100%, a “dripping fog” as local organizer and legendary ultrarunner Arthur Webb puts it on his very helpful blog. Here in SoCal I train in bone-dry, drought-ridden conditions. I guess it’s a good thing my last long run was in the high 80s and so muggy it felt like I was running through the pool locker room at the gym.

2. Tapering — While I still regret running 18.25 miles of speed workout just 10 days before the race, I am consoling myself with the fact that 9.25 of that was at 10K pace, 2 miles at easy pace, and the rest was walking. I also did a bunch of reading and research on carb loading, and in reading Matt Fitzgerald’s book Runner’s World Performance Nutrition for Runners: How to Fuel Your Body for Stronger Workouts, Faster Recovery, and Your Best Race Times Ever, I saw that he said:

I always recommend doing a final longer run [15 miles] about a week before longer races (half-marathon and up) for maintenance of endurance adaptations.

(p. 131). Bless you Matt Fitzgerald for easing my mind a bit!

3. Health — My three girls started junior high and elementary school last week and two of them have already managed to bring home cold viruses. I find that marathon training revs up my immune system and I rarely get sick during training (knock on wood). The one exception is during the reduced workouts in taper. I am going to be very disappointed if I show up to the starting line with a cold.

4. Bonking a/k/a Hitting the Wall — If I want to come in at 3:45 or under, I need to maintain a steady pace of about 8:30 per mile over the course of 26.2 miles. I looked at my last two big races, the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon and the Long Beach International Marathon, to see how I did on pacing. In the half I did a good job of pacing (especially in light of the hills), with an average of 8:10 pace and a 7:54 for mile 13. No problem there. The concern comes when I get to about mile 18 of a full marathon. While I wouldn’t say I hit the wall in Long Beach (I didn’t have to spend time in the medical tent like I did at Mountains 2 Beach), my pace dropped off after mile 18. I averaged 8:30 for most of the race, then 8:59, 8:28, 9:06, 9:31, 9:41, 9:50, 9:57, 10:04, 9:41 and the last 0.2-mile sprint at 8:48. Not exactly the strong finish I’d like to see at Santa Rosa. Now, rest assured, I’m not just crossing my fingers and hoping for a better outcome this time. Here are four things I have done or will do to power myself for an even pace at Santa Rosa:

1. Strength training. My core is much stronger now than it was almost a year ago at Long Beach. I know I can draw on those muscles to help maintain good form throughout the race.

2. Carb loading. I’m paying particular attention to what I will eat over the next three days, increasing carbs to about 70% of my daily diet. That translates to 10 to 11 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight.

3. Starting slow. It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn, but now I understand that going out even a handful of seconds too fast at the start of the race can cost whole minutes at the end of a race. I plan to start slower than marathon goal pace and ease into it over the first four miles.

4. Not carrying my fuel with me. This is the first full marathon where I will rely fully on the aid stations on the course. By not carrying that extra weight with me, I can shave a few seconds off each mile (which, granted, gets balanced out by stopping to walk every two miles through the aid stations). I practiced this at my last half, and I practiced it on my 18.25-mile speed workout. I’m still worried about not getting enough fuel at each aid station, but I have calculated that I need to get 6-8 ounces each time and that seems manageable.

Anyone else have a race coming up soon? What have you done differently during your last round of training?

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On the anniversary of the bombing of the Boston Marathon, my thoughts are with all those affected. I’m looking forward to seeing the race come back better than ever next Monday.

Personally, when someone says “Boston Marathon” I think back to the day I brought home my first baby from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. I sat in the back seat of the car so I could hover nervously over my newborn on the drive home. Much to my chagrin the drive took extra long because we had to take a circuitous route back to our tiny on-campus apartment at MIT due to road closures for the marathon. Eventually we made it home safely and without tears (the baby’s or mine)! I can hardly believe it, but that baby turned 12 years old this past weekend! Which brings me to purpose of this post — the birthday cake:

Chocolate mousse cake

In our family, we’ve got birthdays in January, April, July, August and December, which means I’ve had many opportunities to experiment with various recipes to come up with the perfect chocolate cake and frosting recipes. The ones I’ve tried in the past were either too dry or too brownie-like (don’t get me wrong, I love a good brownie, but not when it’s supposed to be cake)! Finally, I’ve found the best chocolate cake ever. The following recipes make a two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate mousse frosting and a chocolate/raspberry/blackberry filling.

Cake:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/one-bowl-chocolate-cake-iii/detail.aspx

For the cake, use organic sugar (regular sugar is too bitter) and high quality cocoa powder (not hot chocolate cocoa powder) — e.g. Ghirardelli or the raw cacao sold at Sprouts. For the vegetable oil, we used safflower oil.

Chocolate mousse frosting:

http://allrecipes.com/video/3244/chocolate-and-raspberry-mousse/detail.aspx?e11=chocolate%20mousse&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&event8=1&prop24=SR_Showcase&e7=Recipe&soid=sr_showcase_1

For the mousse, the ingredients list is at the end of the video above. Double the mousse recipe to frost a two-layer cake. Use a high quality brick of baking dark chocolate like Valrhona. Put the metal mixing bowl in the freezer before you whip the cream and make sure the cream is chilled beforehand as well. Again use organic sugar. For the filling between the two layers of cake, mix 1/3 of the chocolate mousse with a small pack of blackberries and a small pack of raspberries. Frost the cake with the remaining chocolate mousse and garnish with the remaining berries. You can shave some extra chocolate on the top with a cheese grater if desired.

To keep the frosting from melting, put the frosted cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. Enjoy!

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A long time ago in a land far, far away (London to be exact), Donna from Beating Limitations wrote a review of the book The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan.

In her review, Donna wrote:

I enjoyed the way the author extensively researched and footnoted throughout the book. This is not a flippant piece of work – but a very well thought out journey from farm to table – including thoughts on public policy evolution and the agricultural technology revolution.

Donna offered to pass along her copy of the book to an interested blogger in the hopes that that person would then review the book and pass it along to yet another blogger. I was the lucky recipient of the book, and while it took me a long time to wade through the detailed information it presented, I am glad I read it all. McMillan spends several months working in the farm fields of California, stocking produce at Walmart in Michigan, and in the kitchen of Applebee’s in New York, all while trying to feed herself on the minimal salary those jobs provide. The insight she is able to gather while undercover in those jobs is fascinating and informative. But she doesn’t just leave it at that. She backs up her experiences with extensive research and insight into the food industry in America. This is one of those books I wish everyone would read. If you want the chance to read it, leave a comment to this post. On March 31st, I’ll pick one commenter at random to receive the book. If you win, you’re under no obligation to post your own review and pass the book along, but I hope you will!

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Are you tired of paying for expensive sports drinks full of unnecessary food dyes and artificial flavoring? Try this recipe for 40 ounces of homemade natural sports drink:

Homemade Sports Drink Recipe

30 ounces of water
10 ounces of 100% fruit juice of your choice (see some options below)
3 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 rounded teaspoon of salt

Shake well to dissolve sugar and salt.

(The suggested ingredients for this recipe were shared with my running academy group by chiropractor and clinical nutritionist G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN. I researched several different juices for the recipe and compared them with commercial sports drinks below).

What type of juice should be used to make a homemade sports drink?

Any kind of 100% fruit juice works, but keep in mind that the calories and other nutritive values will vary by the type of juice (see sample information below — I am not a nutritionist but I did some research on various types of juices). I always prefer organic juice. You might have to play around with a mix of juices to get the right flavor, sugar, and salt balance for you. Some good choices:

Cherry juice: one study found that drinking cherry juice can reduce muscle soreness due to exercise. (Source: WebMD Juice Wars Slideshow)

Pomegranate juice: this juice has a high level of antioxidants. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

Pineapple, orange, lemon and lime juices (not from concentrate, and preferably fresh-squeezed). You might want to limit the lemon and lime juices to a small amount for flavoring and pair them with other juices. Lemons and limes have high acidity levels that can cause stomach upset.

Note that no matter which juice you choose, you always want to try out a sports drink first on several training runs and not on a planned long run or race!

Nutrition Information Per 20 Fluid Ounces of Sports Drink

I used 20 ounces of sports drink for this comparison because it is half the recipe and nearly fills most standard sports bottles (I prefer the 21-25 oz. CamelBak sports bottles (not an affiliate link)). It also compares well to the G2 powder pack which is mixed with 20 ounces of water.

Fruit juice (5 oz. juice in 20 oz. sports drink):

Granulated sugar: 72 calories, 18.9 g carbohydrates (source: USDA Nutrient Database entry for 4.5 tsp. granulated sugar)

Table salt: 0 calories, approximately 98 mg sodium (source: USDA Nutrient Database entry for 1/8 tsp. table salt)

How does a homemade sports drink compare to other sports drinks like Gatorade G2 and Fluid?

Let’s compare homemade sports drink with pomegranate juice to Gatorade G2 Fruit Punch Powder for 20 oz. water and Fluid Performance Sports Drink Blueberry Pomegranate for 20 oz. water (When I buy sports drink I choose Fluid because it’s what has been offered on course for both of my full marathons and I make sure to train with what will be available during the race. I have also tried the G2 powder packs which are very convenient but I do not like the red dye). Of course, you could always adjust the homemade recipe above to approximate your favorite sports drink.

Calories per 20 ounces:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 157 calories
  • Homemade cherry: 153 calories
  • Homemade orange: 266 calories (again, you could reduce the added granulated sugar to adjust this amount)
  • G2: 130 calories
  • Fluid: 167 calories

Carbohydrates:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 39.5 g
  • Homemade cherry: 38.9 g
  • Homemade orange: 63.6 g (less if you add less sugar)
  • G2: 32 grams
  • Fluid: 40g

Sodium per 20 ounces:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 112 mg
  • Homemade cherry: 110.5 mg
  • Homemade orange: 102 mg
  • G2: 230 mg
  • Fluid: 334 mg

It is interesting to me that the homemade recipe is so much lower in sodium. Consider your needs and adjust the salt or supplement with salt tablets on your run. See the interesting Active.com article How Much Salt Do You Need While Running?

Potassium per 20 ounces:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 336 mg
  • Homemade cherry: 256 mg
  • Homemade orange: 860 mg
  • G2: 70 mg
  • Fluid: 109 mg

Magnesium per 20 ounces:

  • Homemade pomegranate: 11 mg magnesium
  • Homemade cherry: NA
  • Homemade orange: 47 mg
  • G2: NA
  • Fluid:  18 mg

Have you tried a version of this recipe? What do you think? It takes some experimentation to get the mix right for you. I like pineapple juice but plan to play around with other flavors to get the salt and sugar balance just right.

Do you have a favorite homemade sports drink recipe? Feel free to share your own recipe or link in the comments.

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Time to check in with my April Goals:

Book the hotel for race weekend. What a relief it was when I finally took care of this! We ended up booking a vacation rental home in Ojai for less than it would have cost to stay at the host hotel. The rental is within five minutes of the starting line in Ojai and that eliminates the need for me to take the early morning shuttle from the host hotel in Ventura. Also, with the rental home kitchen I can cook my own pre-race dinner and breakfast on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Focus on meal planning. I did focus on nutrition for the past month and made it a point to know by breakfast time what I wanted to cook for dinner that night. Only once, though, did I sit down and plan out a menu of meals for a whole week. I flipped through the pages of magazines a friend gave me and I tore out recipes that looked interesting to me — a meat dish, a chicken dish, a vegetarian dish, a fish dish, a stew (which I will double to freeze a batch for another meal) and a casserole (well, a garlic bread bowl thing that looked good to my husband! I have yet to make it). For the remaining night we had the best kind of meal — a home-cooked meal but one that I didn’t have to cook! Hooray for the spontaneous Sunday dinner invitation!

Run two 20-milers and two 15-milers. BAM! I ran 20 miles on Coyote Creek Trail, and 20 miles on Aliso Creek Trail all the way to the beach, and two 15-milers that seemed short by comparison.

April Miles

Swim: 1.75 miles in 1 hour in 2 workouts. Can you hear me singing: “Reunited and it feels so good!”? I finally got back in the pool after a few months’ absence and it felt fantastic. So good that I was kicking myself for not getting back in sooner. It reminded me why I like triathlon so much. The mix of disciplines allows the body more time to recover (by varying the muscles used) while still permitting you to train at a high level of intensity.

Bike: 53.57 miles in 3 hours in 4 workouts.

Run: It was another high mileage month (for me) with 133.89 miles in 25 hours in 13 workouts. While it’s not my highest mileage month ever, it is the most in hours of running — in the 30 days in April I spent an entire day plus one hour running!

Skiing: 2.5 hours in one workout. Can’t forget the spring break trip to Mammoth and the awesome run on the snow.

Weight training: 2.75 hours in 9 workouts. I usually do situps, pushups, and some biceps curls two times a week. Sometimes I get in some adductor and abductor muscle moves if I’m at the gym.

Random Photo for April

My oldest daughter celebrated her 11th birthday in April. She asked for cupcakes with yellow and blue frosting. She shares her birthdate with another friend who is one year older, so we made a yellow “11” and a blue “12”:

cupcake collage

If you’re looking for a great recipe for vanilla cupcakes with homemade buttercream frosting, check out this cupcake and frosting recipe from DC Cupcakes (we made the recipe without the filling). Tip: use whole milk in the recipe, not skim.

May Goals

There’s only one goal for May:

Have a blast at the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon on May 26!!

Of course before that I need to complete one more 20-miler this weekend and then begin to taper! I am actually looking forward to tapering this time around. Come to think of it though, I also have a race on the calendar as a training run: the Spring Blast Half Marathon on May 11. The training schedule calls for 13 miles at an 8:35 pace, so why not make it 13.1 and try to PR on a new and interesting course?

What are your goals for May?

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