Thursday, November 21, 2013

California 10/20 10-miler Running Program begins 12/1!

There's a new race in town and it's getting a lot of buzz. Don't miss out on this one! 

The U-T California 10/20 is sure to be an instant classic. Ten beautiful miles through 3 coastal communities - Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas. There will be 20 bands to entertain you over the 10 miles. Get ready for the race in the best way possible by training with us! You are sure to have a blast! Challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible. With the help, support and guidance from an experienced coach, along with the motivation and encouragement from your running partners, take your running (and yourself!) to new heights! 

What: 12 Week 10-miler Running Program
When: December 1st through February 16th
Where: Moonlight Beach - Encinitas
Time: Every Sunday at 8:00AM (some runs will meet on Saturdays instead, dates TBD)
Price: $100 (race registration is not included but participants do get a code for discount off registration)

To learn more about the program, you can check out our website. If you're ready to sign up, you can register online.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall Fun with Food

Even though San Diego doesn't experience the same Fall as other areas of the country, we can still enjoy the flavors that are quintessentially Fall: pumpkin, sweet potato, nutmeg and more. I've been experimenting with some Fall flavors lately and thought I'd share :)

Sweet Potato Soup

This soup is super easy to make and so delicious. It's perfect at any time of the year but especially nice for cool days. With only 4 ingredients, there's no reason why you shouldn't make this soup whenever possible!

1-2 cups vegetable broth
1 medium baked sweet potato with skin, cut into pieces
1 medium carrot, cut into pieces
Spices of your choice (I used Northwoods seasoning mix from Penzey's Spices, which is a mix of paprika, rosemary, thyme, garlic, chipotle, salt and pepper)

In a high-speed blender, add 1 cup of the vegetable broth. Add your cooked sweet potato with the skin still on. The skin contains many nutrients and fiber and is just as important as the flesh inside! Add your carrot and spices. I don't always measure my spices out, but I would add no more than 1 tablespoon of all spices you use combined. Turn the blender on and move to high speed quickly, adding more broth as necessary to blend the ingredients. The soup is quite thick at first so you may need more broth depending on how thick you like your soup.

Another option is to bring all your broth to a boil. Add raw sweet potato and carrot and boil until both are soft (about 15 minutes). Using an immersion blender, you can blend the soup in the pot. Add your spices about halfway through the blending. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can take your cooked soup and add it to a regular blender in batches and blend until it's at your desired thickness.


Pumpkin Hummus

I'm pretty crazy for some hummus. And pumpkin. So pumpkin and hummus together? Let's go. This is really easy to make and will make a wonderful addition to your holiday gatherings or just your snack repertoire!

2 cups cooked chickpeas (either canned or cooked from soaked and dried beans)
2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or fresh is fine, though be sure it's not canned pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, minced (more if you like your hummus garlic-y) 

Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender or food processor. Process the hummus until it's at the consistency you like, adding more lemon juice and olive oil if necessary. Serve with crackers, pita wedges and veggies. YUM!

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Again, I'm crazy for some pumpkin. Not only because it tastes good but it's really good for you. To learn all about the wonders of pumpkins, check out my article singing the praises of the pumpkin. Now, onto this recipe. I need to include the disclaimer that these muffins aren't the most healthy they can be. I was in a hurry to make them (my kids were running wild and I needed breakfast fast!). To make this healthier, you can substitute the vegetable oil for 6 tbs flax meal and omit the agave nectar/maple syrup added at the end.

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice mix (a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger)
1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned or fresh is fine, though be sure it's not canned pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a mini-muffin pan or a 12-muffin pan. I made one pan of mini muffins (24 muffins) and 6 regular sized muffins.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, almond milk, oil and agave nectar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until everything is incorporated. Add the cranberries.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

My kids ate the entire pan of mini-muffins within a few hours. I had to hide the larger muffins in order to save them for my husband! Guess they were a hit! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Moms That Move Running Program

When I first had my son, I wanted to get back to running as soon as possible. It took a little longer than I expected. My knees hurt. My back hurt. And let's not get into how much pain a nursing mom can feel when trying to be active. At the time, I didn't really have anyone else to talk to about this. My other new-mom friends weren't runners and they couldn't relate. Eventually I got my running mojo back but it was a long, lonely road. 

After my twins were born, it was even worse. Honestly, I still feel like my body is trying to get back to pre-pregnancy state, even 2.5 years later. Again, it's taking much longer than I thought and it can be a lonely process at times.

That's why I designed my new Moms That Move program. It's a beginning 5K program for parents who have either never run before, have taken a long running hiatus or have just given birth and are ready to get back in the game. You can learn to run the right way, either with or without your kids in the stroller, have all your questions answered and get back into shape in a safe, supportive environment. But this program is more than just a way to get in shape. You'll meet new people, learn how to go about running the right way and challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible!

In these motivating, non-competitive and FUN programs, all runners get a detailed training plan, weekly coached runs, unlimited contact with the coach through email, weekly email newsletters, informational seminars about running form, nutrition, preventing injury and more, as well as the encouragement, support, motivation, camaraderie and guidance from an experienced coach and being a part of a group setting. This is a great introduction into running for beginning runners, as well as a safe and helpful way to return to running from childbirth or injury.
Moms That Move - San Elijo Hills 

What:      10 Week 5K Running Program
When:     October 1st through December 8th
Where:    San Elijo Hills Town Center/Fountain on San Elijo Rd., San Marcos, CA 92078
Time:  Every Tuesday at 9:30AM
Price:   $85 (race registration is not included)
Register online: 

To learn more about the program, check out the website. And please feel free to email me with questions at 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Bites

With Fall on the horizon and the holidays around the corner, now is the time to think about healthifying your normal holiday recipes. I was recently asked to contribute a healthy holiday recipe to a local neighborhood magazine and I figured you would want to eat it up too. Here is my take on the pumpkin pie. These bites are so good, you'll have to restrain yourself from eating the whole batch. But if you do, don't feel too badly about it. Pumpkin is full of important vitamins and minerals plus the protein and healthy fats in the almond butter make these treats a great snack at any time of year. They're even good after a hard workout :)

Pumpkin Pie Bites

(Makes 12 cookies)

1 cup creamy almond butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, you can grease a cookie sheet as well. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, and mix until a thick batter is formed. Be sure to blend the pumpkin well. Using a tablespoon, drop the batter onto the lined baking sheet. You can press the cookies to flatten if you’d like. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool on the pan 5-10 minutes before removing.

Friday, July 26, 2013

When to not give up

Yes, I'm admitting it: there are days I want to give up. Just forget it all. Throw in the towel and forget trying. Hey, I'm human too.

The past couple of months have been pretty tough for me. I don't typically talk about my tough days because my focus is to help all of you through your tough days. But I have them too. And lately, I've been having a lot of them.

Things at home have been very stressful and it's been affecting my health and my running. I've had to forgo some important runs due to both issues and illness. And while I'm still waiting to hear about what my own health issues are (according to my doctors, it doesn't look to be serious, so phew but still stressful!), I am doing my best to stay on top of training, healthy eating, kids, work, life, etc. Trust me, there are days when I feel like all the hard work is futile if I'm just going to be sick and tired anyway. If I'm doing everything right, then why do I feel this way? Well, there are no answers to this question (at least not yet) and sometimes you just have to stop and look at what's going on around you and *gasp* give yourself a break. Cut yourself some slack. When you are sick or dealing with something beyond your control, it's time to take a step back and be good to yourself so you can get through it. But, it's not a time to give up.

Really, it's when those tough days come, when we feel like giving up the most, that we have to hunker down and keep going. Sure, it's ok to take a rest day or maybe do less than what you're supposed to do, but don't stop all together. You will only add to your stress and add guilt, regret and possibly anger and frustration to the mix. But, when you think about it, when we get sick or are feeling especially horrid, it's our body's way of telling us it's time to take a break. It doesn't mean you have to stop all together, but it means it's time to slow it down a bit. Perhaps skipping an early morning run to get some sleep is the best thing to do. Or avoid intense workouts since you're more likely to cause injury when running through certain types of sickness. Whatever is on your training table, take it down a notch and get the rest your body obviously needs.

But remember, giving up shouldn't be an option. Yes, you may want to. The thought of working out may make you cry. That's ok. If it does, take the day off. But don't take so many days off that you can't get back on track. Do half your workout if possible. Just go for a walk. Whatever you have the strength and time for. Remember, cutting out all your physical activity and eating poorly will only add to you feeling badly (physically, emotionally and mentally). Just do what you can and give yourself a break. Because that moment when you can workout the way you want to? It's priceless and future success will be just around the corner :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Course of the Force

I do some strange things, I admit it. But yesterday definitely took the cake. I participated in a relay that was going on to support Make a Wish Foundation. Sounds great, sign me up! However, this wasn't your average relay. Oh no. It was a light saber relay. Yes, I participated in Course of the Force, a light saber relay that started in Marin County at George Lucas' house (Skywalker Ranch) and ran all the way down the coast to finish here in San Diego at the Comic Con International, which is a big deal in the sci-fi, comic world. All the runners carry a light saber and hand it off to the next runner. Most of which are wearing Star Wars costumes. Hilarious!

Our leg started at the Oceanside Pier

I first heard about the relay as I was researching upcoming running events in the area for my San Diego Running Examiner online column. I was inspired by the cause and it just seemed like something different and extremely fun to participate in. The event first started last year as a way to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In fact, 100% of proceeds (runners pay to participate, just like regular races) go to the organization.

We had to run behind Jabba's Sail Barge
So yesterday morning, the girls and I, dressed as pseudo-Princess Leias, ran a section of the relay in Carlsbad. It was so so SO much fun and the girls had a lot of fun too. Once we arrived at the registration area, we were assigned our locations and received some pretty sweet swag. We received this great zippered reusable cloth bag and inside was a ton of stuff including a t-shirt, toys and other goodies. We also received a full-size light saber. My son had camp and couldn't make it, but he was super excited when he got his very own light saber.

Course of the Force bus
Once the first set of runners got underway, we boarded the bus so we could be dropped off at our locations. We were to run along 101 along the coast, which is pretty much where I run every weekend. I knew the folks that didn't normally run here were going to be very pleased with the scenery. And as we drove along, we were ahead of the runners already underway. So, we were ahead of the Sail Barge and Course of the Force buses and all the police escorts. It was pretty funny watching all the people on the beach stop and double take at all the commotion coming down the street. 

Girls, our escorts, and me running the Course of the Force!
When it was my turn to be dropped off, it was a little stressful. They had to bring my stroller out and then we had to get in it quickly so we were ready when the runner handing off the light saber to me came by. The girls were loose in the bus, so getting them out and into the stroller was a little tough since they wanted to continue running around. But thankfully I was able to get them in quickly and in time to get the light saber from the runner before me and take off. I have to say, running with all that hoopla was so fun! The folks on the Sail Barge were recording us for the video and everyone on the barge was enamored with the girls and how cute they were as mini Leias. I have to say, they were pretty cute.

The run itself was only a quarter of a mile. I wish it was longer because I don't know when in life I'm going to have that much fanfare along with me on a run again! The police were escorting us and I had policemen on bikes on both sides of me. Then there was the photographer on his bike beside me. He was pretty crazy and one of the other runners said that at one point he fell off his bike. I hope he's all right! After my leg was done, there was another bus behind me to pick up all the runners as they were done. Getting on the bus was also a little stressful, but the event organizers that were on the bus helped me with the girls. They were great. Then we settled in to pick up all the runners in our group as they finished and then we headed back to Oceanside Pier to get our cars.

Overall, I had such a blast. I can't wait to do it again next year. And hopefully my girls will be a little more manageable and I can do it without the stroller. That would be nice. And we'll have to make sure our oldest can make it.  

The company that started the event, Nerdist, has created recap videos of each day of the relay. Here's the video of our leg of the relay. You will definitely recognize 3 cute Princess Leias around 3:00 in the video :)

We were also featured in the San Diego Union Tribune. The reporter of the article was in the group of runners I was with. I'm flattered she mentioned us in her article. If you watched the above video, she was the lady dressed as the Angry Bird Princess Leia that appeared in the video right before us.

This was by far one of the most fun things I've done since moving here. Can't wait to do it next year!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Run Happy. Run with Sole this Fall!

Perhaps you've been thinking about starting a running program. Perhaps you're already an experienced runner but you're in a running rut. Our running programs are a perfect way to reach your running goals, and there's one for every runner and every distance. You'll get in shape, meet new people, challenge yourself and have FUN!

And now there’s one more reason to join one of our Fall 2013 training programs: if you register between today and August 15th, you’ll be automatically entered to win a $50 gift card to Road Runner Sports. We want you to be ready to start your training with the right shoes and gear just for you!

Whether you’re ready to tackle your first 5K or want to up the ante with a half marathon, we’ve got the right program for you that will get you primed and ready to reach your goals. 

Check out the list of our programs set to begin next month. Don’t wait! Register now and throw your hat in the ring for some new gear from RRS!

For a list of our programs, head to our Group Running Programs page.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Swiss Chard Egg-less Quiche

I love a good quiche. They are simple goodness and a nice tasty way to add more veggies to your diet. Between the usual eggs and cheese, most quiches are loaded with fat and calories. Here is my veganized version of quiche, which I adapted from this Happy Herbivore recipe. This quiche is so good my twin girls and I can eat a whole pie in one sitting. And I don't feel badly about it :)

Rainbow Swiss Chard Egg-less Quiche
The Rainbow Chard adds a nice pink hue!

  • 4 cup fresh greens (I use Rainbow Chard and I've also used kale), chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tbs vegetable broth 
  • 12 oz extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs lemon juice 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Heat the vegetable broth in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chard and onion and saute until the greens begin to wilt and the onion is soft. Set aside.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to a high-speed blender or a food processor. Blend until creamy. You may need to scrape the sides a bit to get everything mixed. 
  4. Add the blended ingredients to a pie plate. If you want to spray the plate with some cooking spray prior to adding the batter, that is fine. But you don't have to.
  5. Add the sauteed greens and mix thoroughly to incorporate the greens and the batter. 
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top has a little crunch and has browned and the inside has set completely. 
  7. Let the quiche cool about 5-10 minutes before slicing unless you don't care if you get the perfect pie piece. Then slice away :)  

Friday, June 7, 2013

Happy National Doughnut Day!

Today, June 7th, is National Doughnut Day. It's pretty darn awesome that there's a whole day to celebrate the yummy goodness that is the doughnut. But for those of us with dietary restrictions or just not wanting to derail all the hard work they've been doing cleaning up their diet, National Doughnut Day can be sort of evil. So, I wanted to see if I could make a healthier version of the doughnut that I wouldn't feel terribly about eating. I found this recipe through Greatist, and I set out to veganize it. They turned out delicious. Even the kids enjoyed them! Make a batch of these and you'll be sure to have a Happy Doughnut Day!

Vegan Banana Walnut Doughnuts
(makes 11 doughnuts)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup coconut nectar syrup (you can use agave nectar or maple syrup as well)
1/2 cup plain coconut milk yogurt
1 tbs flax meal
3 tbs water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (I used a little less because I made some without nuts)
Cooking spray

For the doughnuts, I used a special doughnut pan from Wilton.  
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat the doughnut pan with cooking spray and set aside. 
  2. Mix 1 tbs flax meal in the 3 tbs of water. This makes a "flax egg" and is used as an egg substitute. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine coconut oil, mashed bananas, coconut nectar syrup, coconut milk yogurt, flax egg and vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and stir until just combined.
  6. Fill each doughnut hole in the pan about 3/4 full. I find the best way to fill the pan is to spoon the mixture into the doughnut spot and then smooth it out with the flat part of the spoon.
  7. Top with walnuts pieces, and lightly press them into the batter.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the doughnuts are golden and spring back when touched. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for a few minutes, then carefully turn out into a wire rack and cool fully.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My most favorite recipe ever.

Well, maybe not ever. But this is definitely one of my favorites and my kids go crazy for it, which is an added bonus.

I first discovered the awesomeness of Robin Robertson and her awesome cookbooks a few months ago. She has a great line of vegan cookbooks that cover the gamut of good, whole-food, plant-based dishes that your whole family will love. One of her most recent books, Nut Butter Universe, is perfect for the nut-butter-lover (?) in your life. It has recipes to make your own butters, which is really helpful considering how expensive good quality nut butters can be. Really, this cookbook is a fabulous collection of recipes for sides, main dishes, desserts, breakfast items (the apple-almond butter pancakes are also a favorite of ours) and more. Just because it's a vegan cookbook doesn't mean there's a lack of flavor in these dishes. It also doesn't mean it's low calorie. You still need to watch your serving sizes. With that said, when you're eating a primarily whole-food, plant-based diet, you have more leeway in what and how much you eat. Counting calories becomes almost unnecessary when you are eating real foods as opposed to foods out of a box.

Anyhoo...check out the cookbook! It will make a great addition to your kitchen cookbook collection.
The recipe that lots of our fans wanted more info about is Robin's recipe for Noodles and Greens with Gingery Almond Sauce. As it is, it's a great recipe. I made it as it is and the Gill crowd went wild. But this go around I wanted to change things up based on the ingredients I had but still keep the overall integrity of the dish. The main change was the substitution of Nuttzo original blend of seven nuts and seeds instead of almond butter (the blue label). I know quite a few people that have got nuttzo for Nuttzo, so when I saw that it was available in my local grocery store, I figured I'd give it a try. It's amazing and worth the hefty price tag.
Here's my changed-up version of Robin's recipe:

Nuttzo Greens and Potatoes

2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, diced small
1 large bunch of Rainbow Chard, chopped
1-2 tsp sesame oil 
1/2 cup Nuttzo Original blend
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic

1.  Heat 1-2 tbs of water in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and carrots and saute until they have softened but gotten a nice crispy crust (about 10 minutes).

2. Add the the chard and sesame oil to the pan an saute until the chard is slightly wilted (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat to low so the mixture stays warm while making the sauce.

3. In a separate sauce pan, mix together the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat until it starts to bubble. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring continuously as the sauce thickens.

4. Once the sauce is at the consistency of your liking, add it to the vegetables. Enjoy!

Sorry, the picture isn't the greatest but it tastes the bestest!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Triumphs and Tragedies

It's been almost two weeks now that I completed the inaugural Griffith Park Trail Marathon in Los Angeles. It was a great day, a great event and I wanted to share my thoughts on why I did it, how it went, etc., etc. But two days after the race, runners and their family and friends, the people of Boston, as well as the entire country, were attacked at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It's taken me this long to be able to process what happened into words (relatively speaking); I can't imagine how someone that was there or has been directly affected by the events feels.

I'll start with my race.

Around the time of my girls' 2nd birthday (March 18th), I was talking to my nephew, who lives in LA, about going up to visit him. I am a closet celebrity stalker and I have been itching to make a trip up to LA. But, in the 18 months we've been here, it had yet to materialize. Once it was decided I would go up there, I figured I'd look to see if there were any races going on that weekend. Lo and behold, I found the Griffith Park Trail Marathon's website. I certainly wasn't marathon ready by any means, but I figured since it was on a trail and I'd be running slower anyway, I'd give it a try. The race had a very generous time limit (8 hours) and I felt that, even if I walked/crawled the entire time, I'd be able to finish in 8 hours. So I registered. But I didn't tell anyone (aside from my husband, of course).

Why didn't I tell anyone? Well, if I'm being completely honest, I was worried I wouldn't do very well. While I run the trails around my house a lot, it had been a while since I'd run that long on a trail. And I thought I'd fall off the mountain. Trust me, I know how irrational it sounds. As a coach, I tell people almost on a daily basis how important it is to be positive, to believe in oneself, you don't know how well you can do something unless you try, blah blah blah. But it's one thing to help others, and it's another beast to help yourself. Even we coaches can use some coaching at times. Anyway, I kept the goal to myself, but the goal was there. I was about to run 26.2 over tough terrain, 3000+ elevation gain and more.

I made my way up to LA on Friday, April 12. I got there about 1:00pm or so, had lunch and then set off to find celebrities. I drove around town, getting lost every 5 minutes, getting frustrated at the traffic (yelling to the air, "why do people live here?") and generally just wasting time. I did find the running store to get my race packet, but not before getting lost about 4 times. At one moment, I found myself in the driveway of some ridiculously rich house in Hollywood Hills and couldn't get out of the driveway because there was only about 3 inches of space for me to turn around. I texted John to tell him I was going to be arrested for trespassing. Thankfully, after about a 100-point-turn, I was able to get out of the driveway and back out onto a main road. Don't ask me how I ended up there in the first place, because I don't know. I blame the GPS app I use. By the way, I never did see any celebrities. Bitches.

Fast forward to race morning. We arrived at about 6:00am to the sun rising in Griffith Park. It definitely an interesting mix of folks in the parking lot. The organizers announced that they would allow people to start a half-hour earlier than the 7:00am start time if you wanted to get going. So at 6:30am, I took off. I figured, I was there, I didn't feel like waiting around, so off I went.

The general rule of thumb for any trail run/race is to walk the steep inclines early on so that you can conserve energy for later miles. Trail running is a lot different than road running in a number of ways, one being that you use a lot more energy due to the addition of lateral movement to the normal vertical/forward motion of running on the roads. Therefore, if it would take more energy to run up an incline than it would to walk/hike, than you should walk or hike. And I was hiking before mile 2. Seriously, the first real incline was just about vertical. Can you say nuts?

Basically, the course took us from the sort-of-bottom of the park to about halfway up a mountain, back down to the bottom, out of the park around the LA Zoo and then back into the park. Once we entered back into the park, it was time for real climbing. We climbed to highest peaks of the park and then ran down back to the bottom. The first 8 miles of the course were the climb halfway up and back down. It was all on single-track trail and pretty manageable. Everyone was in a great mood and the aid stations were pretty awesome. Strawberries while on the run are heavenly. After the second aid station and a hug from Batman, I ran out of the park and towards the LA Zoo. This was the flattest part of the race with about a 10-mile out-and-back route. Most of this section was sand, which ripped up my feet. I usually get a blister on the ball of my right foot but I could tell this one was going to be a doozy.

An interesting aspect to this race was the participants. One type of runner I have never encountered along a race route is a horse. Yes, there were freaking horses along the route. People were horseback riding in the park while the race was going on. I love horses. I think they're wonderful, beautiful animals. But I also respect them and know they will kill me if I get too close. There was a moment as we entered back into Griffith Park that we had to stop running because the trail was too tight and there were horses coming and going in both directions. I was freaked out and didn't want to try and run between them for fear of provoking a stampede. Or a swift kick to the head. After they passed, I was able to get started again. My new friend Carlos also documented my love/fear of horses in his write-up about the race. But we did have more horses to run around later in the race. Oh and let's not forget the plethora of horse crap we had to dodge throughout the route. After a while, you just kind of get tired of jumping over piles of poop or running around them and you just don't care if you run through it.

Once we got to the highest peaks of the park, the views were spectacular. It was an overcast day so the views weren't as spectacular as they could have been, but they were still pretty freaking spectacular. I was amazed and excited to be running in such a great place. Honestly, I felt pretty freaking good the whole race. I took my time, stopped at the aid stations to refuel and walked the vertical climbs. I didn't care about my time, and no one knew I was there, so I didn't have any pressure. It was a very freeing race for me. I know this is going to sound super hokey but I felt like a kid running through the woods having an absolute blast. Trail running is by far my favorite form of running because you really can't have a bad run when running trails. It's pretty much impossible. Even on the most difficult trails I've run, those runs still rate higher than a great run on the road. Well, maybe not along the beach. I digress. Anyway, since I felt no pressure about this race, I was just having the time of my life. Everything was great. I felt great, the race organizer was great, the other runners were awesome and the trails/views were just amazing. I was so happy I did this race.

The final miles were just so fun. They were all downhill, which was just as painful as the original climb uphill. My quads were screaming but I ignored them. There was one last climb before the finish, that I do not remember in the beginning of the race. It was enough of an incline to be a real bitch, considering it was at mile 25.5 of the race. After that, it was smooth sailing to the finish.

After the race, I had to get back to San Diego since I was coaching Sunday morning. My group did great that morning. Afterward, I just cuddled with my family and ate a lot of food for the rest of the day.

Then came Marathon Monday. Since the Boston Marathon started at 9:30am, 6:30am Pacific time, we were up early watching. I had a blast watching it with my kids, though my oldest couldn't see the elite finish since he had to go to school. After the elites had finished, I needed to get started on work. Our nanny arrived and I was off. I feel like such an asshole as I look back on it now. Going about my day not knowing what happened until later in the day. I didn't believe it at first, that someone bombed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Why? Why would they do that?

The finish line of a race has got to be one of the most inspirational, happy places on earth. It symbolizes triumph, pride, accomplishment, and so much more. No one that crosses a finish line, regardless of the distance, is the same person as the one that started the race. Something happens to a person when they run a race. It's life-altering. Sometimes it's a big change that takes place, sometimes it's a little one. But there are changes to a person as they run a race. And running the Boston Marathon is even more important and life-altering because the majority of runners have already put in so much work to qualify and then train for Boston. And to have that triumph and celebration taken away so tragically, it's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking that so many of those hurt were the ones that support us: the family and friends and spectators that cheer us on. It's not fair. This one just hit too close to home.

Seeing how this all unfolded on the news as the week went on was numbing. I just was appalled that this happened, at the hands of kids, and disgusted that people died and were badly hurt. My heart just aches for everyone involved. I am thankful that those responsible have been identified and the one suspect that is still alive is in custody.

What has helped me deal with this stupid, senseless act is seeing the tremendous amount of support for the victims and those affected by the explosions. Whether it's from the millions of dollars that have already been donated, the runs that have been organized in honor of the disaster or the blood donations and supplies being sent to the area, seeing complete strangers band together in support of those who need it is truly inspiring. And it's that unity and support that gives me hope that there is more good than evil in the world and together, we can get through anything. Through this tragedy, there will be triumph.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wanna rock your world? Have some kale pesto.

I found this amazing recipe for kale pesto the other day. I veganized it and added my own touches and I have to say, this is the best pesto sauce I've ever made. I've been dreaming about it ever since. I've put it on everything I can (sandwiches, salads, veggie burgers, etc.) and I just love it. My kids even loved it. Since I made it, I've been seeing recipes pop up everywhere. So, I'm throwing mine into the ring.

Whole Wheat Penne with Sauteed Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes in Kale Pesto

(modified from this original recipe)

Pesto sauce: 
1 bunch of kale, chopped and stems removed
1/2-1 cup olive oil
1 cup vegan Parmesan cheese (recipe below)
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

Pasta and veggies:
12 oz whole wheat penne pasta
1 medium zucchini, diced (skin on)
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise  

For the "Parmesan" cheese: 
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup raw cashews
Sea salt to taste


Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, chop your veggies and make your pesto. For the sauce, blend everything in a high-powered blender or food processor. When I first started, I only added the 1/2 cup of oil but as I was blending, I added more oil to get it a little thinner, so I don't know exactly how much I used. Once your sauce is finished, add about 1-2 tsp to a hot saute pan. Sautee the zucchini for about 2-4 minutes, until bright green. Add the tomatoes and sautee for about 1 minute. Drain your pasta and add the veggies and as much pesto as you'd like! I served mine topped with some hemp seeds, but that's up to you!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Smoothie Queen

Smoothies are big right now. Perhaps it's because more people are looking for easy ways to get more nutritious foods into their diet. Perhaps it's because they are quick meals you can make and take on the go. Maybe they just taste good. Smoothies should definitely be a part of your nutrition plan. They are quick, easy, tasty and can be packed full of nutrients you may not otherwise be eating.

I'm not really a regular smoothie person. I make them occasionally to change things up, but for the most part I like to eat my meals. But every now and then I get on a kick and make them each morning for the family, just to make sure everyone is getting at least something nutritious to start their day :) Right now, I would say I'm on a big smoothie kick. And it happended by chance.

It all started with Al Green. As a job requirement, I spend a large portion of my day perusing nutrition blogs, articles and more to see what the latest research suggests about the latest "superfoods" and what they can do for our health. While most of it is bogus, there is the occasional gem that I'll incorporate into my own diet first, then possibly recommend to clients. As i was reading through some recipes, I misread a recipe for an All Green Smoothie as an "Al Green" smoothie. I thought to myself that it must be a smooth and sexy smoothie if it's named after Al Green. But, alas, I was mistaken. So I took it upon myself to make my own Al Green smoothie. And it was sexy and smooth, I must say. I posted it on Facebook and got a pretty hilarious response from my friends, and a few requests for other smoothies inspired by favorite people. Here is what I've come up with so far:

The Al Green

Photo source:
Al Green is known for being a sexy, soulful singer. This smoothie had to be rich and velvety smooth, just like his voice, without being too sweet. The banana and avocado add a nice, rich, velvety texture without it being too thick. The next time you want a tall glass of Al Green, make this smoothie! 

2 cups almond milk, unsweetened vanilla
1 banana
1 avocado
2 cups frozen berries (I used strawberries, raspberries and blackberries)
4 tbs raw cacao powder
2 tbs raw chia seeds

Blend together until the smooth, silky texture meets your desire.
Serves 2, because you can't have an Al Green alone. Serve to the one you love and he or she will be singing "Let's Stay Together" all day.

In addition to the velvety rich taste of the Al Green, this smoothie is loaded with healthy nutrients such as Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein, fiber and healthy fats. Thanks to Al Green, you’ll stay together a long time :)

The Carrie Underwood

Photo source:
This one is for my friend Steve who sarcastically requested it after the Al Green was born. Though I think he secretly loves Carrie Underwood. This recipe had to represent Carrie's sweet side, as well as her sass. Some cayenne definitely does the trick. 


1 cup almond milk, unsweetened vanilla
1 banana
2 cups fresh strawberries (can use frozen)
2 clementines
1 medium carrot
1 cup ice (omit if using frozen strawberries)
4 tbs hemp protein powder
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Blend everything but the hemp protein and cayenne until you reach the consistency you like. Add the hemp protein and cayenne and blend until smooth, spicy goodness appears. She may be sweet, but Carrie Underwood packs a kick, and you will too after you have this smoothie. 

The Idris Elba

Photo source:
This one is for my friend Adina who swoons over Idris. I have to admit, I didn't know who this was. I did a little research and learned that while he grew up in London, both his parents are from Africa. In addition, he's best known for playing tough dudes like gangsters and drug lords. So I needed to create something that represented his background while being strong and sexy, with a sweet side...but not too sweet.

1 cup coconut milk, vanilla
1 banana
2 tbs cacao powder
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup raspberries (I used fresh, but you can use frozen)
1 cup ice (omit if using frozen berries)

Blend everything together and enjoy this silky and satisfying smoothie. I have to say, this one's my favorite so far :)

It's been fun creating these healthy inspirations. I have more requests, so stay tuned for some other recipes. And feel free to request a smoothie version of your favorite somebody, famous or not.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hot Chocolate 5K and 15K

And just like that, another program has ended.

It is such a bittersweet moment for me when a program ends. On the one hand, I'm a proud mama bird watching my little birdies fly off on their own, accomplishing goals and kicking some major butt. But on the other hand, I'm sad to see my birdies go. Every program of mine allows me to meet new people and get a glimpse into what makes them tick, what is important to them and what they are ultimately striving for. The running programs definitely become more than just reaching a new fitness goal. Whether my program participants realize it or not, accomplishing a physical goal changes you emotionally too. They are never entirely the same when the program ends. I feel so incredibly honored to be a part of it.

So when the Hot Chocolate 5K and 15K kicked off this morning shortly after sunrise, I watched my little birds fly out of the nest. And when the last of my runners crossed the finish line, our program officially ended. Everything we talked about and worked on for the last 10 weeks all culminated in this one single event. All the juggling of schedules, lacing of shoes and logging of miles came together in this wonderful victory lap.

Finishing a race is never just about finishing a race. It's about sacrifice, compromise, understanding our limitations and pushing through them. Whether your race is 3 miles or 300 miles, setting the initial goal to run it takes courage. Following through to completion takes dedication. And the person that sees that goal to completion is never the same as the one setting the initial goal. Now that you've met your goals, my dear runners, be proud of the people you became along the way. Your dedication is an inspiration to me and others. Wherever your running careers take you, know that you can do anything you set your mind to!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Yummy Food Finds

I got a lot of feedback from the recipes I posted last week. I decided I'd try to post my favorite recipes of the week each Friday. It may not be every Friday, but I made some good ones this week and wanted to share :)

This week was all about experimentation. I wanted to make a few things I haven't tried and I think they came out pretty well. The first item of business was tofu. I'm not much of a soy eater, simply because too much of a good thing isn't a good thing anymore. But good quality soy products every now and then aren't horrible for you. I wanted to try tofu because it's a good source of protein and has other great health benefits (high in calcium, iron, other minerals and antioxidants and more!). I decided to try soft tofu first since it may be the easiest to tolerate.

Let me clarify something. I say "tolerate" because I had a terrible tofu experience when I was in college. Yes, I've been traumatized by tofu. But we went to a Vietnamese restaurant and I had some braised tofu dish. It was a crime against food. The taste, the smell, the texture. I wanted to die. And I most certainly thought I was going to when I revisited the meal later as I puked it up all night. It was a very bad night, indeed.

Needless to say, I haven't eaten tofu since. But I figured enough time had passed, I could try it again. And if I make it myself, I can control the potential hideousness. So I took the plunge and bought some soft tofu. Here is the result. I have to say, this was really good. Even the little people in the house liked it and didn't even notice the tofu. By the way, as I type this, I keep typing "tofun" instead of "tofu" and have to go back and correct myself. Maybe my subconscious is telling me I'm now a tofu lover. First it was no-fu. Now it's tofun!

Veggie Stir Fry with Sesame Tofu


1 large bunch Bok Choy, chopped, including greens
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup Romanesco broccoli, chopped
12 oz cooked Udon noodles
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 block soft tofu
2-3 tbs sesame oil, divided
1/4 cup hemp seeds
Crushed red pepper (optional) 

1. I first pressed the tofu between two plates and paper towels for about an hour to remove excess water. I then chopped the tofu super fine. Because it's soft, it's kind of difficult not to chop it finely. Once chopped it has the consistency of finely chopped or minced chicken.
2. Saute the tofu in half the sesame oil with the garlic and onion. Saute until the garlic and onion are soft, set aside.
3. In the same pan, heat the rest of the sesame oil. Add the cooked noodles and toss until they begin to brown. I use Annie Chung's organic vegan Udon noodles, so they're already cooked but you do need to soften them and heat them.
4. Add all the vegetables and saute until the greens of the Bok Choy begin to wilt. I like my veggies a little on the crisp side, so I don't cook them very long. You can cook the veggies longer if you'd like. Nutrition note: the longer veggies are cooked, the less nutrients they have.   
5. Add the cooked tofu to the noodles and veggies. This made about 6 servings. Top each serving with the hemp seeds and crushed red pepper.

Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding with Fruit

For some reason, breakfast is the hardest meal for me to find healthy options that sustain my hunger for an extended period of time. Cereals don't do it for me and I find myself hungry an hour later. Lately I've been sick, so I've been trying to increase my vitamin C intake through diet. I've also been increasing my iron. Nutrition fact: iron found in non-heme sources (i.e., those found in non-animal products) is better absorbed when eaten with vitamin C-rich foods. And this concoction was the result of these efforts. It's loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals and will fill you up for most of the morning. Nutrition fact: chia seeds and hemp seeds are excellent sources of protein, fiber, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and more. Raw pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are also great sources of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium and potassium. Eat these foods. This concoction is pretty darn yummy, if I do say so myself, and it's very filling.


1/2 cup chia seed pudding (recipe below)
1/4 cup blueberries
1 medium blood orange, unpeeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium naval orange, unpeeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4-1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 tbs hemp seeds

For the chia pudding:

2 cups almond milk
 (I use unsweetened vanilla)  
1/3 cup chia seeds

Agave nectar to taste

1. To make the pudding, add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Stir and allow to rest for a few minutes and then restir.  The chia seeds have a tendency to clump on the bottom so it is important to restir.  Let set covered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or over night. Restir before taking out the 1/2 cup for the breakfast pudding.
2. Add all the ingredients together. Eat up and enjoy!

Homemade Creamy and Delicious Almond Milk

We go through a lot of almond milk in my house. I wanted to see how hard it was to make it myself and it's not difficult at all. If I could bottle it and sell it, this is what it's official name would be :)


3 cups filtered water
1 cup raw almonds
1 tbs agave nectar

If your almonds have their little skins on them, it's best to soak them first and remove the skins. Just add the almonds to a bowl and fill it with water to about an inch above the almonds. Soak for a good hour or more; the longer the better. Soaking helps those little jackets come off easily (it's actually a biologic process that causes this, but I won't bore you with that). After soaking you can just manually remove the jackets. Nutrition fact: soaking all raw nuts before using them helps become more digestible, allowing us to absorb as many nutrients as possible!

1. Add all the ingredients to a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix. If you don't have a Vitamix, a strong food processor or blender should be fine just process the ingredients very well.
2. Process all the ingredients for at least 2 minutes, but as long as it takes to get the consistency you like.
3. Pour the milk through a fine mesh strainer to make it as smooth as possible. This is really important, so use as fine a mesh strainer as you can. You can also use a filtration bag such as this one from Vitamix. There are others less expensive out there, I just wanted to show one that I know works well.
4. This makes about 4 cups of milk. Place it in container and store it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. You will want to shake it before you use it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We run on plants...

For several weeks now, my husband and I have been eating a more plant-based diet. We're not 100% vegan, more like 98%. My kids are still eating meat and dairy at times, and we occasionally have fish when eating out, but for the most part, my husband and I are avoiding all animal products as best we can.

We haven't made a big deal out of it because it's really no one's business. We didn't decide to do this because it's the trendy thing to do now, though it is quite trendy. We decided to do it strictly for health reasons. My husband comes from a long line of cardiovascularly impaired men and because he started to exhibit some risk factors, we don't want to take any chances with his health. My family too has cardiovascular issues and thankfully I haven't had too much to worry about with my own health, but because of my family's history and my predisposition for diabetes (Type 2 diabetes also runs in my family, in addition to CVD, and I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my twin girls), it can't hurt to adopt a more plant-based lifestyle. And the ethics don't hurt either.

So why I am writing about it now? I've been getting a lot of requests from friends and clients for info on how WE eat since we're the "experts." (I use that term loosely). Because of my nutrition and education background, I've been able to make this dietary switch with little fanfare and complaints from the short people in the house because I've been able to make most of our regular meals meatless with a few modifications and substitutions that don't cause the resulting meal to taste hideous. But you don't have to be an expert to make the switch. There are so many resources available now that anyone can take the plunge without having to enroll in a master's degree program to do so.

Even though I've come across some really amazing recipes, there are a few that have really been outstanding. A lot of times I'll come up with concoctions on my own, but where I get inspiration will definitely be cited. I will always give credit where credit is due. With that said, I will try to post a recipe here every now and then just to give you a little culinary help and inspiration. Therefore, without further ado, here are three recipes we've loved:

Banana Muffins

For some reason, banana muffins or banana bread is just so comforting. I wanted to try a vegan version and found this recipe from I made my own adjustments and this is the recipe I came up with: 

2 tablespoons ground flax seed
3 tablespoons water
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used 100% canola)
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground hemp hearts

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Mix ground flax and water in a small bowl, set aside. Nutrition note: Flax meal in water is a good substitute for eggs.
2. Add oil to mashed banana, and mash a bit more until well mixed. It doesn't have to be smooth.
3. Mix in the agave, flax mixture, vanilla and cinnamon. Sprinkle the baking powder and salt over the mixture and mix in. Mix in flour and hemp hearts. Nutrition note: Hemp hearts are a great source of Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, iron, certain B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and protein. To grind them, I just placed 1/4 cup of whole hemp hearts in the mini food processor and finely ground them.
4. Pour mixture into greased muffin tins. I made mini-muffins so my girls could eat them more easily. Bake for 20-45 minutes, depending on the type of muffin tin you use (regular sized muffins take longer than mini muffins). Test doneness by inserting clean toothpicks into the muffins in the center of your tin. They should come out clean.

Super Easy and Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

My son and I made these for Valentine's Day. They were gone almost instantly. He keeps asking me if we can make them again. I guess he liked them :)

I modified the original recipe which is from This is a really awesome resource for recipes and it's mostly user-driven, so you can get real advice and tips from real people.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4-1/3 cup water
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used the entire bag of Enjoy Life mini chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Mix everything together in a large bowl. I added the water a little at a time until the mixture was just moistened.  
3. Using a spoon, place on lightly greased cookie sheets.
4. Bake 10-12 minutes. The chocolate chips get very melty and delicious, so prepare to get chocolate all over your hands as you eat them. This isn't a bad thing, just wanted to prepare you :)

Broccoli and Carrot Risotto

This was a really kick-ass meal (there really is no other way to describe it). I modified the original recipe from Dietician on the Run, Heather Calcote. The almond milk and coconut milk do not add any real flavor to the meal (for those of you not interested in those particular flavors). They are just an alternative to the normal cream and butter used in common risotto recipes.

1 cup Arborio rice
1 1/4 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened, non-flavored)
1/2 cup coconut milk (I use So Delicious coconut milk)
1 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup carrot chopped
2 tbsp onion, chopped
Salt/Pepper, to taste
Generous sprinkles of a sage and rosemary blend I use from Penzeys Spices. I used the Poultry Seasoning blend for this recipe (don't worry, it's poultry-free!). I rarely measure my spices, so be sure to taste as you add your spices!
1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk milks and water with herbs.
2. In a deep sautee pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrot, broccoli and onion, cooking for 4-5 minutes until softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add rice and toss for one minute. 
3. Add one cup of liquid mixture to rice and vegetables, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and continue mixing liquid in 1/2 cup at a time as it absorbs; stir frequently. The risotto is done once all liquid is added and absorbed (about 20-25 minutes). Though, it's personal preference just how "liquidy" you like your risotto. I prefer mine to be somewhat creamy, so I didn't let all the liquid absorb before eating. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

All-new Women's Running Program!

I am excited to announce the next installment in my Women's running programs: Women's 10K and Half Marathon Running Program!

We're redefining the Girl's Night Out with our all-new program! Don't worry, you can still have wine after the run :)

Whether this would be your first race or your 50th, chances are you've never trained in a more fun, supportive and motivating way! 

New runner? Experienced runner? It doesn't matter! This is the program for you! Start your New Year off on the right foot and join us as we redefine the term "Girls Night Out!" In this program, you'll reach your goals in a fun, supportive environment with guidance and encouragement from an experienced coach along the way.

What: 12 Week 10K & Half Marathon Running Program

When: February 19th through May 11th

Where: San Elijo Hills Town Center/Fountain

Time: Every Tuesday at 6:30PM and every Sunday at 8:00AM

Price: $100 (race registration is not included)

Register online:

Program Logistics: We will meet Tuesdays starting 2/19 at 6:30pm. The group will also meet on Sundays at 8:00am. The group will be training for the Girls on the Go 10K or Half Marathon on May 11, 2013. The cost of the program is $100 which includes a detailed 12-week training program, two weekly coached runs, information seminars, discounts on running gear and much more! Race registration isn't included in the program fee.

Questions? Email me at with any questions you may have.