Sunday, December 29, 2013

Banana Black Bean Brownies

Typically when you hear the word "brownies", you don't immediately think of the word "healthy". However, I have recently found a way to make gluten free, vegan, oil free, and yes, HEALTHY brownies! These brownies were delicious, rich, and gooey, and they made my kitchen smell like heaven! Plus, they were super easy to make.

3 very ripe bananas (mostly brown, the more ripe the better)
2 cups of cooked black beans
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP ground flax seeds
1 TBSP baking powder

Set the oven to 375 degrees. Mash together bananas and black beans, then add in agave. I just let my kitchen aid mixer do the work for me, but you can also use a fork to mash them together or a hand held blender. In a separate bowl mix together all dry ingredients, then add to banana mixture and stir until everything is combined. Line a small square 8x8 inch baking pan with foil, then spread in brownie batter. Bake for 35 minutes, and then let cool for another 30. Grab the edges of the foil to easily remove the brownies from the pan, then cut, serve and enjoy!

This recipe makes 9 brownies.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Long Runs on the Treadmill

Whether it's the iced over roads, the three feet of snow that fell overnight, or the below zero temps, you're now stuck with a long run and no place to do it. Training for a spring marathon certainly poses new challenges, and sometimes there's nothing you can do but pound out the miles on the treadmill. Luckily, I've been there before, and I can honestly say it's not too terrible if you approach it right. Here are some of my tips for going long on the treadmill!

1. Find some form of entertainment- When I'm running outdoors, I can run for hours with nothing but my GPS watch and my thoughts. The treadmill however is a little different. If you are going to be running for hours in one place, you are going to need some distractions. I used my two and a half hours to watch Christmas movies, but music, an audio book, or anything distracting will work. Just make sure you pick something you know will be able to distract you for the amount of time you will be running.

2. Use the treadmill to your advantage- One of the few benefits to using a treadmill is that you don't have to worry about carrying all of your fuel on you. I took advantage of the extra space by starting with two full water bottles. One filled with regular water, and another filled with an electrolyte solution. Normally I wouldn't be able to do this with my hydration backpack, so having a shelf to put everything on was actually pretty nice.

3. Change it up- Running on a treadmill isn't as good of a workout as running outside since the belt moves for you. Fortunately you can change it up throughout to help stimulate outdoor running. I changed the incline and the speed a little every quarter of a mile to keeps things from getting too boring. You can also use this as a way to challenge yourself throughout your run since you can add more incline and crank up the speed the last few miles to hit marathon goal pace.

4. Expect to break up your run- Unfortunately, most treadmills don't allow you to run for 2+ hours. Most treadmills I have run on automatically transition to "cool down" after an hour, meaning you might have to re-start the treadmill 2, 3, or even 4 times in order to get all of your miles in. Instead of allowing yourself to fall out of your "groove", use this time to take a quick stretch break or fill up your water bottle. I personally hate having to stop for any reason during a long run (or any run for that matter) but I try to look at the breaks in between as a chance to re-collect myself instead of letting it become a nuisance.

I broke up my run 14 mile run into three chunks. (Luckily it was just 14 and not 20!)

First Set

Second Set

Third Set

5. Embrace the strange looks and stares- If you're logging some serious mileage on a treadmill, be ready to be known as the "crazy treadmill runner" at your local gym. Most people don't run the full hour, let alone start it again and again to further punish themselves. Just learn to embrace the title, because let's face it, you earned it!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Years Goals

It seems like now is the time to hop on the bandwagon and establish my goals for the new year. I don't really want to say "resolutions", because I don't feel I have much to resolve. I feel like I'm finally on a path that I'm truly happy about and proud of, as I should be. I have accomplished and grown so much in the last year. Looking back, 2013 has been a really life changing year.

1. I Changed my major and decided to become a registered dietitian.
2. I Ran my first 10k
3. I Ran my first half marathon
4. I Ran my first MARATHON (yes, all three happened in the same year!)
5. I switched to a whole foods plant based diet

If you would have told me at this time last year that I would have accomplished all of these things, I probably would have look at you like you were on some kind of drugs. It's absolutely amazing to me what you can accomplish in a year. So, that being said, I would like to lay out some new goals to work towards and strive for in 2014. Some may be more realistic than others, but there's no satisfaction in accomplishing goals that are easy. So, here we go:

Goal 1- To run a sub 2 hour half. This one shouldn't be too difficult, seeing as I was injured during my first half... not to mention it was a trail run. Plus, I signed up for a new years day half marathon, so this should be easily met before the year even gets going.

Goal 2- To run a sub 4:00 marathon. Now, this one is going to be more of a reach for me considering I finished my last marathon in 4:54:04. That's nearly a full hour to shave off! However, I plan on running one in the spring and one in the fall. I hope to run a sub 4:30 for the spring marathon, and a sub 4:00 for the fall. I know this is a stretch, but I need a few goals to strive for. Plus, I was injured for my last marathon, and feel as long as I can avoid injury, these should be fairly reasonable goals.

Goal 3- To log 2014 miles in 2014. Now, before you go crazy, let me explain. I will be counting ALL miles logged, not just miles ran. Meaning that my cross training miles from the elliptical/bike each week will also count towards this goal. I'm going to finish this year with about 1,200 miles logged, but I didn't start tracking my mileage until about March. Plus, I have built my mileage up from around 15 miles a week to about 35 miles a week. Considering I eventually get up to my goal (50 miles a week) this is actually a pretty reasonable goal.

Well, I think that's all of them. Long term goals will be completing an ultra and eventually qualifying for a Boston marathon. However, neither of those seem like thing I need to be striving for in the coming year. I can't wait to see what 2014 brings, and am excited for another year to to push my limits and reach new heights!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Easy vegan "cheese" sauce

This recipe is really simple and delicious! The best part is, it's made with all natural ingredients. I've never purchased packaged vegan cheese or butter products because I never really felt they were all that healthy. This recipe however just mainly uses unsweetened almond milk, tahini, and nutritional yeast as it's base. Plus, you can make one serving size just for yourself, or you can make a larger batch for a group of people! I used it to top off my broccoli stuffed baked potato, and it did not disappoint!

1 serving- about 1/4 cup of sauce

3 TBSP unsweetened almond milk
1 TBSP tahini
1 TBSP nutritional yeast
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste

Just mix together in a small bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds or until warm. Then drizzle over your favorite foods for a little extra flavor and enjoy!