Products I’m Enjoying: November 2017

The frozen hands and rainy days aside, I quite enjoy this time of year. It’s not perfect outside, so running takes a bit more effort. Layering is starting to happen and I just love a big comfy sweater and a book. It is my time to begin to slow down and just be.

In addition to those reasons, I have had the chance to being back or try some items that have been on the back burner for a few months. I’ve provided links where appropriate so if you’re interested, try them out!


Coconut Butter

Swanson Vitamins recently reached out and sent me some goodies to try. One of these things was this delicious coconut butter. I have loved coconut butter in the past, but often forget about it as I am an self-proclaimed peanut butter addict. This week for breakfast I have been enjoying coconut butter, peanut butter and maple syrup sandwiches and OH MY STARS that’s GOOD! I don’t know why I never got on the peanut butter and butter train, but now I’m not getting off. Head to their website to see all the other great stuff they have!


Squash

A couple weekends ago my sister was selling her beautiful wood panels and other home goods at The Pumpkin Stand in Lodi, NY. While there I bought some of their delicious delicata, spaghetti, butternut and acorn squash. Conveniently on the way home, I stopped at my parent’s house and my mom had made her famous tomato sauce, which I stole and have been eating this week. I’m not crazy for pumpkin, but I do enjoy these winter squash, especially since I can make them in the microwave!


Chocolate Honey

The Philosophie is a brand I’ve supported and represented before because I love the message. They believe your health deserves the best, and it really does right? I’ve been swirling this superfood cacao honey into my smoothies or on top of the mounds of toasts I’ve been consuming recently and it adds a touch of sweetness that is just right. Also, peanut butter topped with this stuff is beyond fantastic!


Wheat Germ

Since getting my results from Inside Tracker, I noticed that wheat germ was a recommended food to raise both my vitamin D and Iron levels. Although I don’t normally use this, I figured it would be an easy add to my oatmeal (my oatmeal is getting complicated now with more than just oats, PB and banana…what the health?!) It does add a depth that I quite enjoy. It gives the oats a bread texture and I can actually spread the peanut butter on top. Not ideal for mixing things in after, so I’d advise mixing in whatever before cooking. I’m also going to experiment adding it to yogurt, but I haven’t done that yet.

Current Shoe Rotation


On Cloud Cruiser

I like using these for the gym. They have extra toe room for the elliptical and a solid platform when I do my easy 20 minute gym routine. They are not fancy, but they get the job done. I’ve tried to run in them and use them for short runs of less than 5 miles, after that I like shoes to be a bit more specific to my foot.

Hoke Speed Instinct

I bought these last week and have run in them twice, 16 miles and 12 miles. I love them and think I will use them for my next race. They have enough cushion without being bulky, the appropriate lugs for both trail and road, and conform to my foot well. I have run in the Hoka Clifton before and enjoyed them, so I’m glad I found another Hoka shoe I like.

On Cloud Flyer

Oh these shoes! Each time I’ve run in them the past week I’ve gotten poured on…and they are fantastic! They drain surprisingly well, I have no blisters and they are not wearing down. They are the most cushioned of the On line, and these days that’s what my feet need. A bit more durable upper and the classic cloud pattern on the bottom, I recommend them for middle distance runs (6-11 miles).

Other shoes I’m wearing a bit: On Cloud, Altra Impulse

Inside Tracker Blood Test #2

A few months ago, I got my first blood test from Inside Tracker. After which, I made some lifestyle and eating habit changes, took a break and saw some good results.

I took a month off from running.

I ate more nutrient and calorically dense foods.

I gained about 15lbs.

I came back to get second in the Cayuga Trails marathon, win Many on the Genny and have the courage to leave a job that was stressing my body and causing sub-optimal performance and fatigue.


I was feeling pretty good until Escarpment, which I completed, but I begin started a cascade of little niggles, that turned into bigger problems leading to a pinched nerve and foot issues at Greenlakes. After that race, I took a step back and started to look for more answers.

I saw a chiropractor. I changed my stretching and mobility routines, I didn’t run and I did other things. I spent more time with family, I was more present at my job, I got a van.

I didn’t run for almost a month, allowing my body to dictate my return. I shifted my priorities to other things, but kept up with recovery work.

One thing I hadn’t thought about for a while before Greenlakes, and oddly before my dad asked about free range eggs and why I don’t eat what comes from our chickens, I largely forgot about my Inside Tracker test and my at-risk levels.

Here I was, unable to walk, sad and tired. Sure, I was happy in my job and knew I was in the right place, but something was off and I was ready to fix it.

So I started eating eggs again, once every few weeks. I also stopped reading labels or asking what was in things. I let my parents and friends make and give things to me and I ate them. I took a very relaxed attitude to this, and felt a lot of pressure lift.

I got serious about my supplementing and now am compulsive about taking all my vitamins everyday.

I realized that I want to be able to run for life and be healthy and happy doing it, so I will take care of my diet and recovery outside of running.

Well, I feel better, am at peace with whatever fitness I have, running or not, and what do you know, my levels have improved.

My B-12 is great.


My testosterone to cortisol ratio (indicating overtraining) is in the correct range.


These were two things I was concerned about.

My vitamin D and Iron are still at risk, so this is the next hurdle.


Then I will tackle magnesium. I’m trying to work on sleep and just need to find my secret sauce.


I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

One thing I don’t know very much about is my low white blood cell count. I had a lot of inflammation, however I had just come back from a run, which increases inflammation and temporarily suppressed immune function. This will be in my focus along with vitamin D and iron.

What I started doing began to work, time to try a bit harder. I am discussing my test with the Inside Tracker team shortly and getting their recommendations as to how to proceed.

#blooddontlie

Any questions?

Budget Meal: Cinnamon Roll Slow Cooker Oats

I recently came across a really great oatmeal recipe that was too good not to share. I’ve been eating it all this week and I can tell you, I will be making it again when I can.

Oatmeal is probably my favorite fall and winter breakfast simply because it fills me up and tastes good. Nothing beats a cold run followed by a warm breakfast.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and immediately it drew my attention because it combines oatmeal and cinnamon rolls. It’s not simply oatmeal with some cinnamon in it, it has other ingredients that up the calorie and nutrient profile.

I was also attracted to it because I could make it in my slow cooker and it only took 2 hours. The problem I have with slow cooker meals sometimes is that I am not home to turn them off. Then they over-cook the food or in the case of oatmeal, I would need to get up at like 3AM to shut it off.

No thanks, not even for oatmeal.

I thought I would do the cost and calorie breakdown per serving for this recipe. I must confess that, as with most of my breakfasts, I added peanut butter on top when I ate it, so add 300 calories if you do that.

[picture from Moms With Crockpots]

2 Cups Oats (Aldi’s Rolled Oats: $1.13)
2 eggs, beaten (free from my family farm)
3 Cups Milk (Aldi’s Vanilla Silk Soy Milk: $1.19)
1/2 cup sugar (Aldi’s Brown Sugar: $0.14)
2 tbsp Baking Mix (Gluten free or regular) or All purpose flour (Aldi’s All-Purpose: $0.01)
1 tsp cinnamon (spice rack)**
1 tsp vanilla (spice rack)**

Total Cost: $2.47

Total Calorie (3-4 Servings): 1,489

**I consider these “freebies” because I do not buy spices often and buy them in bulk to have them on hand.

Have you ever made oatmeal in a crock-pot?

Weekly Breakfast Staple #1: Cereal with peanut butter and nuts

In addition to oatmeal, which I tabulated in a recent post, I frequently eat cereal in the mornings. It sounds boring and almost immature to me when people over the age of 19 used to say they still eat cereal, but I have come around.

Cereal is not just Lucky Charms and Cocoa Krispies anymore. There are so many great and nutrient dense choices these days and the best part, they are generic brand. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think spending over $3 for a box of cereal that lasts me three bowls is worth it.

Let’s talk nutrition first. Whole grain cereal with nuts is perfect for me when I get done with my morning run. It is hearty, goes down easily and quick to make. Whole grains have fiber, vitamins and minerals that are important for recovery but also because after breakfast I am onto the next activity, which requires energy. I add peanut butter first because I love it and second because I found it keeps me fuller longer. Combining carbohydrates with a fat helps them digest slower and provides sustained energy. I began adding walnuts on top after finding them in my pantry and remembering how much I love them. Walnuts are both delicious, and also stay crunchy after the milk has made the cereal soggy. Oh yea, they also have something called Omega-3s for your brain or whatever. Regardless, they take the cereal up a level in flavor town.

Now, let’s talk budget. Cereal is more pricey per calorie than oats or another slow cooking grain. It is not however more pricey than bread. The bread I’m talking about is not the dollar per loaf cheap bread. If I’ve learned anything from my time at CTB, it’s that higher quality bread, even full of gluten and carbohydrates, is better for your body. Ingredients matter even if you’re on a budget.

Back to cereal, my local grocer sells most of its generic brand at $1.69-$1.99 per box. Because I combine two cereals usually when I eat it, and I add nuts and peanut butter, I get more bowls per box. I will be honest, if I just ate the cereal with milk and that’s it, I would get at the most three breakfasts. By adding in healthy, higher calorie foods, I can justify spending $2 on a box of cereal when that $2 might go further in terms of oats or rice.

This is my favorite bowl of cereal, broken down cost and calories.


Whole Grain Cereal with Peanut Butter and Nuts

1 c Fiber Cereal (Wegmans Brand): $0.62

1/2 c Wheat Berries Cereal (Wegmans Brand): $0.31

2 T peanut butter (Skippy Super Chunk): $0.19

1/2 c walnuts (Aldi’s brand): $1.08

1/2 c almond milk (Almond Breeze brand): $0.21

Total Cost: $2.41

Total Calorie: 860 (my fitness pal)

On a different note, I’m starting to send out my newsletter again. Links and films I’ve consumed and also I want to give more budget tips. Should I do those in the newsletter and more what I eat in a day on the blog? Should I do the money part on the blog and then the calorie part in the newsletter?

Help me organize!

Easy Almond Banana Bread [vegan, gluten-free]

I receive products from Barney Butter in which to make recipes and enjoy. I think you will love their products as well, so feel free to head over and check them out!

I missed having an oven at my old apartment. Sure, I learned how to make many traditionally baked items in my toaster oven and microwave, but it simply was not the same.

I remember when I visited my current apartment for the first time to discuss the leasing agreement, my [now] roommate Lesley was baking banana bread.

It smelled HEAVENLY.

She pulled out the loaves just as I was leaving to go to a bridal shower, but seeing and smelling that bread solidified what I was going to bake first thing once I moved in.

Last week, I moved into this apartment and I cannot believe it has taken me this long to bake! Actually, I sort of can because I’ve been a bit busy at my jobs, running and getting my bearings back in Ithaca [reading the Outlander book series obsessively].

It seems all I needed to do was get a little push from Lesley “Please use up all the frozen bananas in the freezer” and a bit of extra time [between book chapters] to put my apron back on.

This recipe uses bananas, almond flour and almond meal conveniently making it gluten free as well as completely vegan. There is an oil free option which I have used previously and it tastes good but well…oil is just my jam so I use it.

I used Barney Butter almond flour and almond meal for this recipe as I find the quality just enhances the taste.

Even though I work at a bread and bagel shop, there is nothing quite like banana bread for breakfast in the morning. My co-workers quite agree and you will too! Make this bread and send me a shout out on Instagram!


Easy Almond Banana Bread

From at

Prep: Cook: Yield: 8Total:

You'll Need...

  • 2 mashed ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
  • 1 T flax meal
  • 3 T water
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup oil (or applesauce)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, plus more for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 cups of almond slivers, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch load pan.
  2. Combine flax meal and water and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine bananas, almond and vanilla extracts, oil and sugar, stirring until evenly, but not overly mixed.
  4. Add flax meal and water mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.
  5. Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the same bowl.
  6. Stir so there are no flour lumps, but still lumpy.
  7. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of almond slivers.
  8. Pour into a greased 8 inch loaf pan.
  9. Top with the rest of the almond and extra brown sugar if desired.
  10. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.