Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates

Who has a sweet tooth? On a resent supported ride, I was offered a peanut butter filled date. Since I am that person who keeps dates in the refrigerator for my midnight sweet tooth cravings; it was a match made in heaven. The drive home that day I bought some peanut butter and found my current favorite snack. Super easy, tasty and who needs a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup when you have a date!

Remember this is a snack; even though dates have over 15 minerals they have high natural sugar content.
Base Ingredients

Whole Pitted Dates
Peanut Butter (Almond, Cashew or your choice of nut butter)
Spice* – Cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper
Chocolate chips*


Cut a large slit in the middle of each date, lengthwise. If using spices, in a small bowl put some peanut butter and a pinch of spices to taste. Mix the spice and peanut butter. Using a small spoon, spoon the peanut butter into the date. Do not overfill the date and adjust the amount used to taste. If you want a real decedent treat add a chocolate chip into the peanut butter and grind some peanuts to sprinkle over the date. Enjoy! They are best stored in the refrigerator.

If you have a sweet tooth and like chocolate; here is another date recipe I did for a substitute for Christmas cookies! Chocolate Truffles

Dates are versatile and can be used in savory appetizers; such as bacon wrapped dates. Maybe next month!

Date Fruit Health Benefits, 05/01/2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yoga - Be smart!

Over the weekend I ran across an article from the New York Times titled, "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" but William J. Broad.  Since I practice yoga at home and in class settings this sparked my interest.  While reading the article, I just kept thinking people be smart.  I do not agree with the article; I see very little research to back up the authors claims.  However, going to a few classes last week I witnessed students being plain dumb and the size class was so large that the teacher could not possibly stop the stupidity. (The problem was persons doing poses with improper form and no foundation; my thoughts during the class was someone was going to get hurt.)  I am sure it has to do with many all the new persons wanting to try yoga in the new year.  Great, love to see it but stop being stupid.  Since reading the article and after the displays last week; I have a few opinions & hopefully ways for us to be safe while practicing yoga.

  1. Start yoga with a beginner class or private lessons with a reputable teacher. Ask friends. Do your research.
  2. Find the right class.  What is the teachers experience?  How many students are in the class?  Do they do individual corrections to help with proper alignment?  Do you mind them touching you to help with a correction?  Do they ask if you have any existing or previous injuries?  How do you learn? (Visual, Verbal)
  3. Know your limit in the poses, leave your ego at the door.  Most poses have alterations for those that can not do a pose without proper alignment.  For example my bulging disk causes me to do most of the bends with my feet hip distance apart. 
  4. Use props, they are there to help you out.  Get a block.
  5. Set your intention at the beginning of the practice.  I always set my intention at the beginning of the class as: use for opening hips, stay in the moment, relax into the movements, do not to push anything; by doing this I take away my competitive nature and enjoy the class.
  6. Inversions, personally I do not like inversions other than legs up the wall.  Whenever a class is doing inversions, I lay with my legs up the wall.  Am I missing out?  Maybe, but I know my limit.  I am a klutz I have enough issues on my legs.  
I believe that yoga is a great activity when done properly but as with any other physical activity there are inherent risks.  The participant needs to make the decision if there are more rewards for the given risks.  I would love to see data of injuries of team sports, endurance sports, weight training and yoga.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Work ABs at the Pool

Since I am swimming alone to avoid contact with other swimmers while my dislocated finger heals; I am taking the oppurtunity to try some new drills/challanges.  Wanting to do some ab work; the usual butterfly kick on back with fins is my goto drill.  Easy enough... Lets make it harder by raising my arms out of the water.  OUCH, it made my abs burn.  Here is a fun way to work your abs!  Of course, there is a youtube of it from GoSwim.  Have fun! (Watch you head at the end of the pool!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking back at 2011

Thinking back over 2011, it was a year of change for me... moving, marriage, job; a complete life change that has made me the happier than ever.  (Well, maybe not ship my race wheels with UPS to Kona, HI.)

Top 5 Experiences for 2011
1. Marrying my best friend, the greatest day of my life.

2. Spending month in Kona including a fabulous honeymoon on the Big Island after a race that had a mechanical issues but there is no finish line like running down Alii and sharing the experience with family and friends.

3. Surprise visit to see my mom while she was on vacation in Charleston.  This vacation was the last time she felt normal in 2011 after dealing with shingles then falling breaking her shoulder; I appreciate the moments I get to spend with my family.  Okay, this picture is not from this time in Charleston but from getting ready for the wedding.

4. Running Louisville Marathon with friends, Shelby and Sarah.  Sharing a race experience with friends can not be beat; what an awesome experience.  Can not believe I have no pictures from the fun filled weekend!

5. Biking in the North GA mountains.  I am blessed to have the mountains so close to enjoy with friends.  One of the first rides I ever did with Kris was here; he had patience to practically have to walk his bike up each of the gaps.  Now this year, I managed to drop him a few times this year climbing; okay he was injured but I have to take the victories from him when I can!!

Top Lessons Learned
1. True family and friends will support you on your decisions; if they do not it is their issue to work through not yours.
2. Never give up.  Such a cliche and easy to say until you are faced with adversity and want to stop.
3. Hard to follow own advice.  Advice that I have give many times, I did not follow myself. 
4. Late nights are not good for my health.  My circadian rhythm gets thrown off ...I get ill.  Each time I have been sick over the past few years I can usually track it back to requiring working through the night.

Now that chapter 2011 is closed; it will be remembered as a year with some of the most memorable moments of my life and a few I would rather forget.  Thanks to everyone who played a role!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Training again...Ouch

It has been a little over week since I started "training" after 2 weeks spent mostly horizontal in bed.  My number one concern was the infection coming back plus avoiding overuse injuries developing from trying to come back too quickly.  Before getting sick my training was developing a solid base for 2012.  Welll....being off for that length of time and asthmatic, I wanted to be smart at this point in the season to see how my body was reacting to the training with my power, pace and heart rate to get back where we left off.
Becca - 2010 Post North Georgia Gaps Ride & Run

 I started with easy spinning for about 30 minutes and felt like I had just ridden 100 miles in the North Georgia mountains and a brick run I did in 2010.  My easy spinning power caused my HR to go into zone 3.  YIKES!  So it became a soft pedal day.  Over the next 3 days I gradually increase my bike time and my heart rate and power zones started to correlate.  Walking and yoga were added to the routine. 

After a few easy days on the bike & walking I was finally ready to start EASY running which I did a few 20-30 minute before beginning to even considering having my heart rate in my upper zone 1.  At first, I know that my tights had weigts stuffed in them; but they eventually fell out! 
Last swimming, I waited a little longer on swimming because of 2 reasons, 1st my shoulder had an incident at the beginning of November during a mountain biking weekend and 2nd is I dread getting in a cold pool & struggle regulating my body temperature.  Luckily, swimming easy was okay.  Now holding any interval was not going to happen for a few days but 3K was pretty easy on my first day back to the pool.  Positive!!! 
After about 9 days my power levels, pace & heart race started to come back in line and I am feeling ready & excited to begin serous training again. (Of course it does not hurt to realize that Ironman TX is in 5 months)  Coincidence to see an article today on active and I am thankful for my coach (Kathleen) instilling in me when you have systemic symptoms to not workout.  (Scare Tactics to Prevent You From Exercising While Sick). 

Next goal... staying healthy! I have good start with my daily green smoothie!  YUM!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Comfort Food - Butternut Squash Soup

My memory of butternut squash as a child was in a frozen square package that I only saw on Thanksgiving; it was nasty stuff with no flavor that my mother would try to make palatable by adding brown sugar.  Fast forward... now squash is one of my favorite fall foods with butternut squash at the top of the list. It has a subtle sweet nutty flavor that is perfect for fall and winter recipes with the added bonus of high in vitamins and minerals. Just one cup has 298% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin A; YAY for my eyes that are starting to experiencing the "I am about to turn 40 and spent my life on a computer" vision.  It also has a significant amount of Vitamin C, E, B6, Folate with daily recommended values of 49%, 10%, 11%, 9%, respectively; plus a mineral content of magnesium (12%), potassium (14%) and Manganese (14%).  Not only is this squash tasty it has some great health benefits. 

For a quick and easy side dish, I will remove the skin with a potato peeler, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into bite size chunks.  Drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast in the oven until fork tender.  I have also been known to add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, gloves and even curry powder.  Add some root vegetables such as beets and parsnip for a heavenly combination of flavors.  Another favorite of Kris's is butternut risotto; this takes patience but worth it.

On a chilly autumn evening, it is hard to beat the smooth silky texture of a butternut squash soup.  While preparing the soup the smell calms the body and mind of all the days tensions.  The past week I made 2 different soups; a curried butternut and a roasted butternut squash soup.  I enjoyed both soups but the roasted soup has a more rich deeper flavor and color; the molasses, sage and balsamic vinegar aid in the development of the rich soup.  For both recipes, they are from the food network with my little twist to reduce the fat and sugar while trying not to reduce flavor.

The curried butternut soup is an easy soup recipe that simmers the squash until tender.  The changes I made to the recipe are added a cup of celery and carrots to the onion and garlic mixture to saute together.  Next I omitted the honey; I tasted the soup and it did not need the extra sweetness after the addition of carrots.  During the time the soup was simmering, I roasted the seeds with a drizzle of oil and salt; then roasted seeds were added to the soup for some texture and garnish.

Glaze for Roasting
The roasted butternut squash soup is more involved but worth the effort.  My freezer always has the spice rub ready to use on vegetables, pork, chicken or anything I feel like.  The recipe to roast the squash has a few changes in it to for healthier choices.  1/2 cup of butter, YIKES, I reduce to 1/4 cup and instead of all butter a mixer of butter and coconut oil gives the soup a slight coconut taste.  The sugar again was not included; the molasses in the recipe give it enough of a sweetness plus some extra iron; which I am always looking for ways to add iron into my diet. 

Once the roasting sauce & squash are well mixed, the roasting begins... creating a fragrance of sage and sweetness of the balsamic vinegar and molasses that fills the kitchen. WOW, how much longer my stomach is starting to speak to me?
Roasting the squash
The magic is beginning in the oven; time to start the soup and ready to finish when the squash is fork tender.  I do not use the half and half but instead add 1 cup extra of the squash.   

An immersion blender is used to create the smooth silky texture...time to EAT! 

Finally, if you have never made a soup or cooked with a squash the first recipe is easy and hard to make a mistake.  I love the second recipe it is worth the extra effort.  I am now hungry just writing about it and need to make some more soon!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chocolate Truffles (a.k.a. Reindeer Turds)

Where did Reindeer Turds come from?  Kris saw me working on them and promptly called them Reirdeer Turds.  I finally made my first Christmas treat of the season!  I feel so far behind on shopping, decorating, baking and all the fun Christmas activities but with my new found energy I am moving forward to catch up.  I love baking at Christmas and excited to try some new healthier recipes.  This new one was so easy that I was able to complete it while I had dinner in the oven.  I cannot take credit for the recipe but I am not sure where it came from; I saw it on T.V. during my illness stuper and wrote down the primary ingredients with no quanties.  It peaked my interest because it uses no added sugar just the sugar from the dates; (YUM) which have a high sugar content but also have over 15 minerals including potassium, magnesium, selenium and calcium plus fiber and antioxidants.  It was a perfect recipe for me to try since I have dates handy for those times when I want something sweet; they are nature's candy. 
Even though the truffles are made with a natural sweetner; they are a snack. One truffle is about 50 calories and these little jewels are truely decadent snack for the holidays.

Chocolate Truffles
2 Cups Dates
1/2 Cup Walnuts (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Dark 72% Cocoa Powder
Dried unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Add all ingredients except coconut to food processor and blend until a ball is formed. Remove from processor and refrigerate long enough to cool to make it easier to roll into balls. I refrigerated for about 15 minutes.  Next roll into balls then roll in the shredded coconut.

Makes about 2 dozen.