Friday, August 31, 2012

Homemade Energy Bars

I've seen (and made) a couple of variations on this basic recipe and they all turned out great.  The main thing to remember is that it's very adaptable and you can add a little more honey or almond butter if it needs to be stickier, or add in some more puffed brown rice if it is too sticky.  You can play with the ingredients and amounts to get it where you need it to be.

  • The cherries are important as they are such a great recovery food for runners.  They add a wonderful sweetness to the energy bars.  Cherries are considered a "super food" because, like many red fruits, they are a good source of vitamins and minerals as well as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that are responsible for giving fruits their bright red color.  (source) They are also believed to help reduce the oxidative damage that occurs in muscle tissue after a strenuous workout, thus enabling the tissue to recover more quickly. This, in turn, might allow athletes to perform at a higher and more consistent level.

  • Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which has an anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefit. Great fuel on the run.

  • Honey of course provides a natural source of energy.  The organic sugars, glucose and fructose, aid in preventing fatigue during athletic activities.

  • Coconut reduces inflammation and supports tissue healing and repair.

  • Puffed brown rice is rich in important B vitamins, as well as significant amounts of zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. It is an excellent source of the mineral manganese, which is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and protein and essential for a healthy nervous system

  • Nut butters provide healthy fat and various vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, niacin, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc.  The healthy fat gives me energy and keeps me full longer which is important in a long race.

Okay, so now that we've dissected some of the ingredients, here is the recipe.  

  • 1 cup peanut butter, almond or cashew butter.
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries or 2/3 cup dried cranberries or 2/3 cup raisins or a combination. (I prefer just dried cherries)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup shredded or flaked coconut
  • 3 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • Olive oil spray, to grease pan (you can use coconut butter if you prefer)

Spray olive oil in an 8x8 pan to lightly coat, or rub coconut butter all over the pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract until well-combined.
Add the sunflower seeds, dried fruit, sesame seeds and coconut and combine thoroughly with the peanut butter mixture.
Gradually add the puffed brown rice cereal to this.
Firmly press the mixture into the prepared 8x8 pan; you'll need to wet your hands slightly, otherwise the mixture just sticks to them.
Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours, then cut serve or pack in individual saran wrap or plastic baggies. I wrap in saran wrap and pack in my backpack, running pack or drop bag.  These delicious little bars keeps me energized and feeling good while on a long run or out hiking.  Cut however small or large you like, but I prefer smaller sizes for easier handling.  (about 3in x 3in squares)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Time

I admit it..I am obsessed with peanut butter. Cashew butter. Almond butter. Sunflower butter.  All kind of nut butters.  I came across this slideshow of healthy ways to incorporate peanut butter (or any nut butter) in your diet and knowing how much runners like their peanut butter, thought I'd share.  Can't wait to try the tortilla, peanut butter, banana and sunflower seed one! I'm thinking this would be a great ultra snack. Easy to make ahead of time and stow in a drop bag or put in a ziploc bag and carry in my pack. I'll use salted instead of unsalted sunflower seeds and have the perfect snack!

5 Healthy Twists for Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ultra Training

Not much exciting going on here but thought I'd write a quick post about my training lately.  I feel like I'm just trying my hardest to maintain fitness and gradually up the mileage while trying to get through another record breaking hot summer.  I'm talkin', 85 degrees and humid at 5:30 am hot.  Blech.  So I've been getting up early or running late and have been hovering around 32 miles per week.  This week it goes up to 40 mpw and keeps increasing after that to a peak week of 56 mpw.  My training is focused on Whispering Pines 50K which is October 13th, and will then shift to Rocky Raccoon 50 mile in February.

Food is one of the most important components of training for me and I'm eating as many fresh, organic fruits and vegetables as I can get my hands on.  Still drinking a big green smoothie every morning for breakfast loaded with hemp & pea protein, greens, carrots and fruits along with some Matcha green tea powder, coconut flakes and chia seeds.  My recovery is definitely much quicker now that I've started incorporating the smoothies, maybe I wasn't getting enough of something before?  Lunch is typically leftovers from the night  before heated up (roasted chickpea tacos, black bean soft tacos, stuffed quinoa peppers etc) and dinner is often poached eggs with toast or an egg sandwich.  I also try to eat snack foods that are anti-inflammatory such as pineapple for the bromelain or cherries and a handful of nuts.

Next week I start boot camp and I've also begun doing lunges and squats along with some hand weights daily.  I love fall and all of the promise that it brings! Being so close to the fall season motivates me to get my butt out of bed and step up the training.  Not that I'm counting or anything--but the autumnal equinox just HAPPENS to be 38 days away...although Oklahoma weather seldom corresponds to dates and times much. BUT, it's coming.  :)

Now that I've started running ultras, for me the main thing is getting through the training still healthy and stronger.  It's so easy to burn yourself out or get injured during the long months of training and high mileage and I feel like I'm getting better with the balancing act but only by staying very in tune to my body and adjusting when I need to.

Would love to hear from other runners on what they do during training that helps them get stronger and keeps them healthier!  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Oklahoma Wildfires And Clear Bay Trails

Oklahoma is struggling right now..struggling with record breaking heat, drought and wildfires.  Last week there was a devastating wildfire just east of where I live that destroyed many homes, killed one person and did a massive amount of damage both to property and to nature.

We were watching the news anxiously because the fires were so close to friends homes and to Clear Bay trails which is where I love to run more than anywhere else.  The heroic firefighters managed to save a number of homes that were in danger and they managed to save the Thunderbird Horse Stables as well as all of the Clear Bay area, including my trails.  The fire came right up to the edge of the trails on two sides and as much as I love that area out there, I will never take it for granted again!  When I was so worried that it might all burn I was thinking about what a precious resource it is and how long it would take to regenerate and regrow the area and knew it would take many many MANY years and so many wild animals would have been displaced.  It would of just added to the tragedy if such a great outdoor space had been lost.
Pyrocumulus cloud formed from all of the smoke

My brother was out fighting the fires there and he said that deer were running all over the area wild-eyed, not knowing which direction to go with all the of the fire and firefighters all over their home.  I'm happy that they still have the Clear Bay/Little River areas to live and that I still have a place to go to run and to see them...I see more deer out there than anywhere I've ever been, sometimes I see as many as up to 20 deer in one evening!

Dave and I drove as close as we could get to the fire and I wanted to share my pictures was horrific to see, knowing how much damage it was causing to all of the homes and lives out there.

Donations and volunteers at Noble Fire Department. Great community!

Pray for rain!   Earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, ice storms and blizzards...Oklahoman's are tough, but I wish we could have a mild year where we don't need to be tested quite so much.

If you'd like to make a donation, information can be found HERE.