Saturday, July 26, 2014

Start your day the Quinoa way!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet millions of people skip it. While I sort of understand why some skip it, you really shouldn't. Breakfast helps "wake up" your metabolism after fasting all night. It helps prevent you from overeating later in the day. It also gives your body the fuel it needs to function; without it, your body uses its own muscle for fuel and you don't want that. Whatever your reason for skipping is, this quinoa breakfast cereal is sure to change that. It's packed with protein, fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals and will keep you feeling full for hours. What's more is that it's a great recovery meal after a long run. Timing of your recovery meals is important if you want to make sure your body is recovering as best as possible after a long, hard workout. Right after your run, you need to focus more on simple, easily digestible carbs and a small amount of protein to promote replenishment of your energy stores and begin to rebuild muscle. But an hour to 2 hours after your long workout, you need more complex carbohydrates and protein to continue the process. Quinoa is a whole grain, making it a great complex carbohydrate. What is even better about quinoa is its protein content. One cup of cooked quinoa has 8g of protein! Coupled with the dried fruit and nuts, you are getting all the macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) and microminerals/micronutrients (potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, iron, etc....the list is endless) you need to rebuild and get stronger. Because of the complex carbs and protein, I don't recommend this for a pre-workout meal, as it can cause some stomach distress during your workout.

This recipe makes a huge batch of quinoa that you can store in the fridge for the week, making grabbing breakfast each morning quick and easy. Just top with your favorite dried fruits and nuts and you're good to go. And this meal is gluten-free and vegan!

Quinoa Breakfast/Recovery Cereal

2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup dried quinoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp 100% pure maple syrup

This will make about 4 cups cooked quinoa. For your meal serving size, aim for about 1/2-1 cup quinoa, plus toppings.

Toppings

1/8 cup dried fruit (I use dried raisins, cranberries, blueberries and cherries)
1/8 cup raw walnuts

Because you can store the remaining quinoa in the fridge, I recommend adding your toppings as needed. This way you can change things up, making yourself a different meal each time. This is an example of the amounts of toppings per serving. You can also top with chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh berries, bananas and more. Really, the choices are endless!

Place the milk and quinoa into a medium pot. Stir the quinoa into the milk. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. You need to watch as the milk can boil over if you don't turn down the heat quickly after it comes to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add cinnamon and syrup. The syrup is just for a little sweetness, so it's completely optional. Remove the cover and continue simmering for an additional 5 minutes, until all the milk is absorbed. You may want to stir frequently so the quinoa doesn't burn and/or stick to your pot. After the liquid is absorbed, you're done. Place your quinoa serving (1/2 cup - 1 cup) and your desired toppings in a bowl and enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Best running moment...

Yesterday I had one of the best running experiences in my entire running career: I ran a 5K with my 8-year old for the first time. This was such a great experience, I just had to write about it :) 

We did the Bolt to the Q 5K, which is part of the NFL 5K series. Several NFL teams participate and host 5K races at their stadium. This is the San Diego Chargers event, held at Qualcomm Stadium. We started in the parking lot, ran an out and back route, though instead of finishing where we started, we got to run through the tunnel the Chargers run through when entering the stadium. From the tunnel, we then run right onto the field and finish at the 50 yard line. It was an amazing experience I won’t ever forget. 

This past Memorial Day weekend, we ran the Vista Strawberry Festival’s fun run as a family. My son has run several kids races but this was our twin girls’ first race. It was a great time for all of us. At the time, my son asked if he could do the 5K next year. Of course I said yes, but why wait until next year? A friend of mine told me about the Bolt to the Q and how she and her son do it together. After hearing about the details, I thought it would be a great first 5K for Keller. And if I’m being honest, I figured if he had a great first 5K the chances would be high for him to want to do others. And maybe even join the local kids running club. But that’s another story altogether. 

We had an early wake-up call before the race as we still needed to get our race numbers. Thankfully they allow you to pick them up race morning. My friend and her son picked us up at 5:45 am and off we went to the race. When we got there, we got our race stuff and promptly put on our race shirts. I don’t typically wear a race shirt until I’ve finished the race for superstitious reasons, but Keller wanted to wear his and so we did. 

After donning our race shirts and using the restroom, it was time to line up. Supposedly, there were over 4000 that did this race, so you can imagine the crowd at the start line. After a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, we were off. My friend and I decided to let our boys kind of go off on their own since they would probably be running faster than us. We were able to see them ahead of us for most of the race. The course itself is pretty easy and really is a great course for a first time 5K. It’s truly out and back with just a couple of bump ups here and there. At some point before the half-way point, I was getting nervous about Keller running on his own. If he needed to stop and walk, I was worried he would get overwhelmed by all the people. I had to run to catch up to the boys and with a mile to go, I caught them. I was so happy to have that last mile with them. Seeing them deal with the mental aspect of running was kind of amazing. My friend’s son is older and has done this race before. So he was kind of coaching Keller in how to run that last mile, telling him to keep his pace under control, etc. I see a future running coach in him :) 

Finally, after a small hill, we returned to the stadium parking lot. We could see the straight-away to the players’ tunnel and the field. Keller took off. Sean and I both looked at each other in amazement. Sean even asked me where Keller got his energy. This coming from a 12-year old! As we approached the tunnel, Keller stopped. I think he thought that was the finish line (there was a Mile 3 sign there). I took his hand and we entered the tunnel. We held hands the whole way to the finish line and it was absolutely one of the sweetest race finishes I’ve ever had. I could tell Keller was so proud of himself for running the whole thing and finishing strong. He was super tired and said he wasn't sure if he could do a longer race. Of course I told him he could if we trained for it. It was kind of exciting to think that he's thinking about future races already. By the way, Sean came out of no where with a finishing kick that was pretty strong and blew by us both. The stinker. 

Proud mom moment: Keller finished 14th among the 1-12 age group (out of 118). His time was 26:29 and he ran the entire way (except for that stop at mile 3). He’s definitely feeling a bit sore and tired today, but he earned it :)

What is even more exciting is that we’re in the footage of the race from two different news programs! You have to watch the entire videos in order to see us but we’re there! In the one from NBC San Diego, towards the end of the video, you will see Keller’s little head zoom by the camera, then me and my friends behind him. We actually saw this on the news this morning. I quickly tried to find the video online but couldn't. I emailed NBC through Facebook as well as tweeted one of the morning news anchors Marianne Kushi (yes, I am a dork). Marianne quickly got back to me and sent me the link. And shortly after that, the NBC Facebook person also sent me the link (thanks so much Marianne and NBC. We love you guys and watch every morning!). Gotta love social media. Anyway, in the one from ABC 10 News, towards the end of the video, you will see Keller and me crossing the finish line together! My most favorite memory is now on film for all of eternity! Can’t beat that! 

I have to say that, regardless of whether or not Keller becomes a life-long runner and we have 1,000s of race finishes together, this will be one of my top favorite mom-son moments. There’s never another first race :)

Not to be outdone, our girls participated in the kids fun run. This race was 1/2 mile, which was their longest race to date! Brenna was fine throughout the race and she and my husband alternated running and walking for the 1/2 mile. Ellen had a little trouble. I think she was overwhelmed by all the fanfare and people. We walked most of the way and at some point, she wanted to be carried. The kids run got to go through the players' tunnel and finish on the 50 yard line as well. Since Ellen and I were some of the last kids to cross the finish line, we got lots of cheers and some high-fives from Charger Ryan Mathews, whose charity serves as race beneficiary. And yes, she did wear a feather boa to the race. Sometimes you just need to wear a boa. 






Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Basil!

We belong to an awesome CSA here in San Marcos. The farm is Be Wise Ranch, Inc and they're based in Escondido. I love belonging to a CSA because we get a butt-load of wonderfully organic fruits and veggies every week for less than what we'd pay in the grocery store (butt-load is a farming term, by the way). Sure, I could go to the store and pick out my own veggies but this is much more convenient for me. And it forces us to eat stuff we wouldn't normally eat, as well as try things we wouldn't usually try. It's been wonderful and I feel good knowing I'm supporting a local business and my local environment. And I get HUGE bundles of basil! Have you ever seen a bunch of basil so enormous? It's been heavenly because I'm forced to put basil on everything because I don't want it to go bad. And I really love basil.

Aside from the obviously lovely taste basil adds, it actually has quite a number of important health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect you (and your immune system) from pesky bacterial infections. Basil also boosts cardiovascular health because it's high in the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, as well as magnesium, vitamin K, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids and more. It definitely provides a lot of bang for your buck. Did I mention how much I love basil? Really, what's not to love?

Here are a few basil recipes to get your love affair with basil started off!

Basil Pesto (vegan)

Ingredients
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1tbs lemon juice
2-3 tbs nutritional yeast


Place everything in a food processor or high speed blender. Typically it's easier to blend in a blender when all the liquids are placed in the blender first, then the other ingredients. When I made my most recent batch, I actually just threw everything in a high cup and used my immersion blender. Whatever works best for you. Blend until everything is combined and the consistency is to your liking. Some like a course, chunky pesto (this is most preferred) but others like it a little smoother. Experiment to find what you like the best.


Basil Hummus

Ingredients 
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (about 1 15-oz can)
1 cup water reserved from cooking beans (see below)
1-2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil



If you've cooked your beans, reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid. If you're using canned, drain the beans and rinse them and use 1 cup of water with the recipe. Place everything in a food processor or high-speed blender. If you're using a blender, add the water first, then all the other ingredients. Mix until everything is combined and smooth. Add more water tablespoon by tablespoon until you get the consistency you like. This is to avoid too much oil, as most store-bought hummus have too much. Serve with whatever you'd like to dip!


Basil Tea

Ingredients
1 cup water
3 tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice (or more, per your taste)

Chop the basil leaves finely. To brew the tea, you'll want an infuser basket or other tea cup that allows you to brew loose-leaf tea. I have a ton of different cups/basket/mesh thingys that I use to brew loose-leaf tea, but the one pictured here is from Uncommon Goods and does a good job. And since your tea is still in the infuser section, you get to smell its yummy aroma as you sip your tea :) Once you've chopped the basil, add it to your infuser. Poor your boiling water over the leaves and let it steep for about 5-10 minutes. Add your lemon juice and enjoy!


By the way, I can't chop my basil without my beautiful mezzaluna. I highly recommend getting one for all of your herb chopping needs. It's easy on the hands and on the eyes :)