I always enjoy finding new desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth while providing my body with proper recovery fuel. When Minimalist Baker posted this recipe I couldn’t wait to try this alternative to my beloved Avocado Chia Chocolate Mousse. This rich, creamy pudding loaded with protein and healthy fats surely didn’t disappoint! It tastes great as is, but for an extra indulgence add some coconut whipped cream and peanut butter drizzle, or fresh fruit.
1/4 cup (24 g) unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder
1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) maple syrup (or sub more dates)
2 pitted Medjool dates (or sub more maple syrup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
Add raw cashews to a mixing bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let set for 1 hour, then rinse and drain thoroughly.
Add to blender along with remaining ingredients and blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
Scoop pudding into serving containers and cover. Chill in the refrigerator until cold and thickened – at least 2-3 hours. Serve as is or with my favorites: coconut whipped cream, peanut butter drizzle, or fresh fruit!
Nothing says summer like the flavor combination of coconut & lime! Coconut water is high in the electrolyte potassium, so this shake is perfect before or after an intense workout in the heat. Or anytime you’re thirsty for something refreshing!
The new trend is sweet potato toast and wow – what a discovery! I love sweet potatoes, and I also love piling things on toast! Since I avoid breads when I’m in training cycles this is an awesome alternative and a great snack idea.
No recipe needed – you simply slice a sweet potato into your desired thickness (the thinner the slice the easier to toast), place it in your toaster and toast on high. When it finishes you will likely need to toast it one more time. You want to see some browning on the slice and then you know it’s ready. When it comes to toppings you can go crazy! I started with some good ol’ standbys:
almond butter, dates, coconut & cinnamon
avacado mash, nutritional yeast & sea salt
chocolate peanut butter, raspberries & coconut
Up next will be cashew cream cheese, red onion, cucumber, capers and dill. Then maybe smashed black beans, guacamole and salsa. Sautéed kale, white beans and garlic. I could go on and on. Have fun creating your own sweet potato toast snacks and feel free to share them with me 🙂
While visiting Santa Fe and dining at one of my favorite eateries, Rasa Juice Bar, I discovered these amazing raw cinnamon rolls that were not only delicious but also the perfect fuel before my long runs in the foothills and mountains.
I fell in love with these cinnamon rolls and made it a priority to re-create them on my own so that I could enjoy them anytime! Through a few trials I finally found the perfect mix. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Remove pits from dates and soak in water while you prepare the base.
Add almonds, pecans & flax meal to a processor and process until it becomes a fine crumble.
Add agave and continue to process (you may need to scrape down the sides once or twice) until you have a moist dough-like consistency (it will still be crumbly).
Place the mixture onto a sheet of wax paper, cover with another sheet of wax paper, and use a rolling pin to flatten into a 9×9 square or similar. Place the base into the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Drain the dates and add them to the food processor with the remaining filling ingredients. Process for 3-5 minutes until a smooth paste is formed, stopping to scrape down sides if necessary.
Remove the base layer from the fridge and remove the top layer of wax paper. Spread the date paste evenly onto the base, and then use the bottom layer of wax paper to gently roll the layers from end to end. Place the roll in the fridge to set for about an hour.
Once set, remove the roll and cut into slices of desired width.
To make the topping, mix almond butter, coconut oil and vanilla and microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir well until syrupy, and then drizzle onto cinnamon roll slices.
I had one simple goal coming into this race – run a PR. After last year’s implosion (you can read about it here) I figured this would be an attainable goal for my 2nd 50 miler. I would be lying if I said a podium spot wasn’t also on my mind but after finally doing some research on my competitors (a mere 3 days before the race) I decided it was not wise to get hung up on that notion with the talented women coming to this race. I also had a “loose” goal of sub-8:30, but mainly I was concerned with the PR.
Race morning brought cool temps which was a pleasant treat when we knew what was in store for the day. The high humidity at 5 am was a stark reminder that the heat was on its way. I had some nervous energy as I was milling about and catching up with friends. For once I fully executed a taper and I was ready to go! Once I lined up at the start next to my friend and soon-to-be fellow Strong Hearts Vegan Power Teammate Jason Mintz I was also surprised by Ellie Pell who showed up to give me a good luck hug and, I was hoping, some of her speed 😉 First Caitlin Smith lined up next to me, then Sabrina Little, then Corrine Malcolm. The intimidation set in but also the excitement of seeing how this race would unfold!
The countdown clock expired and we were off! (I can’t say enough how much I love the relaxed start of ultra races!) The field slowly settled into a very relaxed pace. The lead pack was chatting, telling jokes, laughing… I was right behind Jason and we joked about how this felt like a group run and we would be totally happy if the pace stayed like this. As expected once we crossed the field and then the road to head out on the trail the race began. Sabrina took the lead within the first mile and Corrine was quick to tag along with her. I had to fight the urge to follow suit – I knew that if I wanted to have a successful race I had to stick to my plan. It wasn’t long before both Corrine and I passed Sabrina but then Kelsey Allen blew by and charged into the lead. I watched Corrine go with her and reminded myself to stay right where I was.
The miles were ticking by with ease and I felt totally relaxed. At each aid station I received info on the time gap between 1st and 2nd. It was fairly close which made me feel even better about how I was running. As I approached Lick Brook climb I caught up to Corrine. As we hiked this massive climb together it was great to be able to chat with her – she’s a cool girl with a great attitude. Once we reached the top she again pulled away and I again held off on chasing. It was still way too early for me to make a move I would pay for later. My Suunto beeped, ringing in mile 9, and I said out loud with excitement “I only have 41 miles to go!” Who was this voice inside my head?!? That’s how relaxed I felt and how much I was enjoying this course – which was every bit as beautiful as I remembered!
Photo: Kate Paice Froio
Around mile 19 I was surprised to see Kelsey just up ahead. At this point the marathon runners were coming through and one of the guys yelled “there’s only 15 seconds separating the first 3 females – now this is a race! I knew that she was in reach and I would pass her soon but hearing this got me super-pumped. I had to tell myself to calm down, relax, let it happen. I stuck to it and made my pass on Lucifer’s stairs, moving into 2nd place. I was still feeling totally relaxed and started to question whether or not I was taking it too easy. Looking at my watch I saw that I was going to finish my first loop under my goal of 4:10 – I was not going too slow.
I thought about how much better I felt at this point compared to last year and as I approached the halfway point I was ecstatic to see my dear friend Kate on the trail with her camera. She cheered, she chased after me, screamed “I LOVE YOU!” My spirits were soaring. Just as planned, yet another Strong Hearts Vegan Power teammate, Jay Phillips was waiting to replenish my fuel. I swapped my empty flasks for new bottles of Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration and Hyper Hydration, along with 2 more packs of Skratch Labs Fruit Drops and Huma gels, and was on my way. Now the race begins!
My plan during the first loop was to take it easy on the downhills so that I could save my legs for loop 2 where I could ramp up the aggressiveness. For some reason this wasn’t working – both of my knees and my bad hip were in excruciating pain reducing me to a hobble on the downhills. I felt fine on both the flats and uphills so I took advantage of these spots.
By the second loop I was noticing how the rising temps were affecting me – I was already drinking more and realized I would need to focus on hydration for the rest of the race. The collapsible cup provided as race swag was a part of my fueling strategy as I stopped at every aid station to fill it with water – sometimes more than once. (thanks again Ian for reducing waste by avoiding paper cups!) Leading up to the race as I watched the forecasted temperature rise I decided to tweak my hydration plan slightly – and try something new. I knew that late in the race I could use a fresh, cold pick-me-up so I mixed a bottle of Vega Sport Sugar-Free Energizer that would be waiting for me at mile 37. Now after every beep of my Suunto I would look down and say “X miles to go-go!” (the name my sister and I use for this Vega drink). This helped me to have a goal and break up the race.
Cooling off. Photo: Kate Paice Froio
When I arrived at the underpass aid station I was excited to see watermelon and after filling my water cup I enjoyed a slice before continuing. I also saw freeze pops which were so tempting and promised myself that I could have one on the way back with only 7 miles to go. I set another milestone to look forward to! Climbing Lick Brook a second time the heat was definitely rocking. After you get to the top you run through a few fields where you are totally exposed to the sun. I realized that I made a major error at the last aid station – I should have drank one of my flasks and refilled it instead of trying to ration. Now my fluids were really low and mile 37 seemed so far away. I hopped out onto a road crossing and saw a man carrying a jug of water to the course marshal. “Is the water for sale?” “No, you can have it for free!” I stopped and waited while he adjusted all he was carrying and opened the jug for me and oddly I only thought to have him fill my little cup 😦 I wasn’t thinking straight! It was still a relief and after thanking him and calling him my desert oasis I sped off.
About a mile from the aid station I came upon Jared who was hiking with a hydration bladder and I kindly asked if I could have some of his water. I stopped to take a swig and off I went again – this was getting rough! Finally I made it to Buttermilk Falls where I found Kate once again – I told her I was going to need my sparkle drop bag (all the cool kids have them) and she sprung into action – sprinting ahead, hurdling coolers to get the go-go juice I had been so anxious to enjoy. This time I remembered to fill both of my empty flasks and leaving that aid station with a slap on the ass from Kate and 3 full bottles of fluids gave me a burst of energy. Home stretch!
At mile 39 I heard someone behind me and turned around to see Sabrina,
and feel the impending doom that came with it. Sabrina has way more experience in ultra racing and is a very strong runner. I knew that my time in 2nd place had come to an end but for my own sense of pride I wasn’t going to go down without a fight! In that moment of despair I decided to surge – what did I have to lose at this point? I knew that it wouldn’t last but why not give it a shot. For 3 miles I was feeling strong – thank you go-go juice! When I got to the descent on Lick Brook I was once again reduced to a slow hobble and was sure it wouldn’t be long before she re-appeared.
I arrived at the underpass aid station anxious to claim my prize of a freeze pop. To my dismay I grabbed a purple tube of refreshment to find it was pure liquid 😦 I said out loud “oh, they aren’t frozen” to which a volunteer responded “we have frozen ones!” I waited for her to retrieve one and cut off the top for me while I tossed back the liquid one anyway. I grabbed the green one she handed to me and off I went. I can’t tell you the last time I had freeze pops so I didn’t remember how vile they tasted. But I can tell you they taste the same coming back up – which happened within a mile of eating them 😉 It was still worth it.
I was approaching Lucifer’s stairs when I heard 2 runners coming up behind me. As expected, it was Sabrina and she now had a running partner, Zach Ornelas. They were chatting away and making it look like they were on a relaxed, easy run. Once we summited the stairs I stepped aside to let them pass. With my surge I was able to hold her off for 6 miles but it was time to face reality. Now I started to worry about who was next – surely Caitlin must be closing on me (I did not know that she had dropped). I convinced myself that I could muster one last surge in these remaining 5 miles if needed. In all honesty I don’t think I could have, but I had to tell myself I could make it happen.
I was relieved to make it to the last aid station to fill one last bottle one last time. As I approached a spectator yelled “you can’t stop she’s only 5 seconds ahead!” An exaggeration for sure, and I assured him that I was not in a place to catch her at this point as I grabbed a slice of watermelon to power me through the last 3 miles. As I was about to turn onto the grass trail with about a mile and a half to go I see Jason Mintz in front of me! I knew this meant he wasn’t having the day he had hoped for but at the same time I was happy to have some company to finish the race. When we hit the home stretch and I could see that no one was behind me I could finally relax and enjoy the finish!
Jason and I crossed the line at 8:28:06 (that was my time anyway, his was oddly 4 seconds faster). I had a lot to celebrate – I ran sub-8:30, I made the podium with a 3rd place finish, and best of all – I ran my race and stuck to my plan! The heat was a factor but I think I handled it well (thanks to Skratch Labs Hyper Hydration – I swear by that stuff!) Sure there are plenty of areas I can improve on – could I have run those last 10 miles stronger had I been running higher volume weeks? I’m certain of it. This race was a step in the right direction and I’m excited to see what I can do next.
I cannot say enough great things about this race – Ian and his Red Newt Racing crew do a top-notch job at organizing and supporting this event. The aid-stations are well-staffed with knowledgeable volunteers – it really makes a difference. Thank you to all who donate so much of their time to make this event what it is! I also want to thank Topo for their support this year – this was my 2nd race in the Runventures and when you can run 50 miles without even noticing the shoes on your feet that’s a great sign! I didn’t have one single blister or even a hot spot. Also thank you to Skratch Labs for providing products that are easy on the stomach, ease my heat-sensitivity, and most of all taste delicious! I don’t think I could ever grow tired of those Fruit Drops! Thank you to Jay Phillips for coming out to refuel me at the halfway point, and to Kate who never ceases to amaze me. She captures great photos, runs her tush off, plants kisses on my salty face, and she’ll even give you a slap on the ass to get you on your way! Every time I saw her on the course (which was a lot – she was everywhere!) it brought a smile to my face and recharged me. And last but not least, thank you to Jay Friedman who pulled me around the track and up the hills of New Paltz week after week preparing me for this race. I got to see him once – when I was heading out on loop two. Little did I know he was having a terrible time due to illness and was about to drop out. He was smiling and cheering for me – giving me support despite what he was going through. It was tough day for many – the finish rate was 68%!
You know what I love about muffins? They are perfect little (or sometimes not so little) single-serving, portable snacks that you can pack a lot of goodies into. This muffin recipe is just that – which is why I have been making them for years!
The supergrain teff! Photo: Huffington Post
If you haven’t been introduced to teff it is time to check it out! Teff is an iron-packed grain from Africa that is gaining popularity and accessibility as it is said to be the grain of choice for elite Ethiopian athletes. In addition to the benefits of easily absorbed iron, it also boasts high amounts of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium. Since many females in endurance sports can struggle to maintain adequate iron levels (vegan or not), adding teff to your diet is a great way to boost tissue iron levels ladies!
Nutrient dense muffins to be enjoyed at any time of day.
2 cups teff flour
½ cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup applesauce
½ cup agave nectar or maple syrup
⅓ cup melted virgin coconut oil
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional – I add a few on top of the muffins)
½ cup raisins
1 cup grated carrots
1 small tart apple, diced
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan.
2) In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the teff flour, tapioca flour, ground flax, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together well.
3) In another mixing bowl, whisk together the orange juice, applesauce, agave nectar, and oil.
4) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together. Then add the nuts, dried fruit, and grated carrots, and diced apples. Continue to mix with a large wooden spoon until all of the ingredients are combined. Be sure to not over mix the batter!
5) Spoon batter into oiled muffin cups and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.
6) Cool muffins on a wire rack.
This was my 2nd time racing the Cary Du Classic as the Long Course Duathlon National Championship and to sum it up – I had a bad day. I can say that I went into this race not having the best mental attitude (which I may expand upon during another post after I do some soul searching in Santa Fe), but it really comes down to not having the speed, power, and grit that I normally possess. As much as I try to squash my lack of confidence and convince myself that I’m ready to race at my best, it doesn’t always work and my weaknesses show up on race day. Here’s a brief re-cap of my day.
I arrived at transition feeling rested and ready. I was definitely a bundle of nerves for this race but reuniting with so many great friends eased a lot of that anxiety. There was Yvonne Carter and Cora Sturzl from the west coast, Erica Ruge and Jason Heimink from the midwest, Tracy Lempke, Kristin Allyne, Jeff Guara, Jackie Miller, and my wonderful host Dave Tierney representing the local crew. Although we were missing some key people, it was like a duathlon reunion! I knew that no matter how my race went today it was worth it to be here with some amazing friends doing what we love.
Yvonne and I – representing Topo
The female start time was 7:04 am – it was still cool and crisp before the heat and humidity rolled in. When the command to “go” was given I of course shot off the front. No one was challenging me and the pace was manageable so I settled in, hitting the first mile at 6:05. I heard some people behind me and soon could tell from shadows that there were 3 females latched onto me. Looks like I was the pacesetter and with the strength of the runners at this race and my lack of confidence in my run speed I didn’t think this was a good position for me to be in today. I backed off just a touch as one-by-one the 3 of them passed me. I hit mile 2 at 6:14 and soon after that was the turnaround where I could see the 3 females coming back towards me. They all looked amazingly strong – not at all how I felt. I really love watching strong runners even if they’re ahead of me so it was a treat to see this talent. I finished the first 5 mile run with a 6:13 pace and was excited to get out on the bike.
The bike course changed this year and we were now doing 2 loops which cut out some of the climbing. Normally I would be happy to have more hills since I don’t possess a great amount of power on flat courses, but since I had only ridden my bike outside 3 times prior to the race, I figured a flatter course would benefit me. It wasn’t my strongest bike but I think I fared better than I was expecting. Over the 30 mile course I was passed by 3 females putting me in 6th place off the bike.
Time to get on to that 2nd run and see if I could chase anyone down! As soon as I started run #2 I could tell I was fading fast. I was eventually able to pass the 6th place female, Allie Norman, but I wasn’t confident that the pass would stick. I started getting pretty bad stomach cramps (which I believe were a result of a minor nutrition error) and I could only imagine how bad I must have looked trying to hold it together. I remember telling myself “you’re running slower than your training pace“, which wasn’t actually true, but it sure felt that way. The first female I saw on the return was Cecilia Davis-Hayes and she looked so damn strong – it was awesome! I gave her a big cheer as I plodded along. After the turn-around I saw Meghan Fillnow storming down the hill and knew it was only a matter of time before she blew by me. I did what I could to keep my momentum going and told myself it was okay to be passed on the run, but this was the only pass I would allow 😉 Sure enough she made her pass with a mile to go and I stayed focused on getting to the finish line.
Photo: Dave Tierney
My performance earned me the bronze medal in my age group and 6th overall female for the day. Not the result I was shooting for but I raced with all I had in me that day. I absolutely love racing – good, bad, or ugly – it’s always an experience I cherish. Today was no exception. Many of my friends also earned medals for their strong races so there was much to celebrate!
Me, Kristin, and Cora
Run #1 – 31:05
T1 – :33
Bike – 1:21:28
T2 – :29
Run #2 – 34:07
If you haven’t noticed I am a big fan of curries. I could eat curry every day. Easy to make, so much flavor, and so many benefits for athletes! I always preach that the best way to recover from a hard workout or race is with a nourishing curry. I cannot tell you the last time I’ve popped a NSAID – it’s been so many years. Why take a pill created in a lab when you can use natural spices to keep inflammation at bay?
As I enjoy curries so often, I find it convenient to mix up a few single-serving jars of my curry mix at a time. Although it doesn’t take that long to throw a mix of spices into a dish on the stove I find it quick and easy to simply open 1 jar and dump the entire contents in the pan when I am in a hurry to get dinner made!
Coconut Quinoa and Sweet Potato Curry is one of my favorite go-to curry dishes. After my evening workout I can throw the quinoa and chickpeas in a saucepan while I hop in the shower and prepare the rest afterwards.
A slight twist on your typical chickpea salad – I use ripe avocado in place of vegan mayonnaise as a healthy, creamy fat alternative. There are many ways to enjoy this dish – I like to load it into romaine lettuce wraps (and then add pickle slices on top for even more dill flavor!). I also enjoy it as a topper to a spinach salad. You can add it in a wrap or pita with other veggies and sprouts. Or simply eat it out of the bowl with a spoon 🙂
Kale salad is one of my favorites! It is my preferred meal base the night before a race. This recipe is taken from my favorite eatery here in New Paltz – Karma Road’s Kalecado. It’s super-easy to make a big batch of salad that can last for a few days.