Recipe: Vanilla-Almond Chia Pudding

IMG_5179

Thanks to our Whole30 experience, I’ve traded in my longtime breakfast parfait habit (yogurt, granola and fruit) in exchange for morning meals that are more nutrient-dense and less inflammatory. But old habits die hard, and I soon found myself in a Green Eggs & Ham Scramble rut.

Luckily my sister came to the rescue, sending me this recipe for Vanilla-Almond Chia Breakfast Pudding from Daily Burn. I’m a chia fan, not only because they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, fiber and protein, but also because they’re super-hydrating, absorbing up to 10 times their weight in water — or in this case, almond milk!

And as an added bonus, this make-ahead recipe works great for weeks when you know you’ll be pressed for time. Just mix together the ingredients on Sunday night, pour into separate containers, pop ‘em in the fridge, and top with a different combo of fruits, nuts and granola each day for a hearty breakfast, filling snack or textured dessert.

Vanilla-Almond Chia Pudding 

Adapted from Daily Burn

Ingredients: 

  • 2/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional add-ins: nuts, berries, shredded coconut, granola, etc.

Directions: 

  1. Combine chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla and agave nectar in a bowl. Stir well until combined.
  2. Cover bowl, and store in the refrigerator overnight or for at least an hour (until mixture thickens).
  3. Stir again before serving, adding more almond milk if pudding’s consistency is too thick.
  4. Top with add-ins of your choice — from fresh fruit and nuts to spices, granola or coconut.

I happened to have these ingredients on hand, but if you don’t use agave nectar, feel free to swap in maple syrup or honey to help sweeten the pudding instead.

IMG_5149

Before the pudding has time to set, the consistency will be super runny; if you’re finding that the chia seeds are sticking together, try using a whisk to separate them before storing your mixture in the fridge.

IMG_5151

This bowl sat overnight, and you can see how the seeds swell up when they absorb the almond milk. They also give the pudding a lovely tapioca-like texture.

IMG_5155

Stir again before serving to  break up any clumps of seeds before adding your favorite toppings. Again, I just worked with what we had in our pantry — Mamma Chia protein granola, cinnamon and hazelnuts.

IMG_5178

The pudding will store in refrigerator for up to five days, so with a little planning you can quickly create a week’s worth of grab-and-go meals!

IMG_5180

What’s your favorite way to incorporate chia into meals and snacks? 

Living the Sweaty Life with ClassPass: 1 Membership, Unlimited Workouts

IMG_5140

Ring the bell; ClassPass is in session and schooling us on the art of discovering the best boutique fitness classes in 30+ cities worldwide!

What is it?

For $79 – $99 a month (price varies by city), ClassPass’s monthly membership program will give you access to thousands of classes, including cycling, Pilates, yoga, strength training, dance, martial arts and more. Members can take up to 30 classes per month and can visit the same studio up to three times per monthly membership cycle.

Do the math; when we’re talking drop-ins that cost anywhere from $15-25 a pop, as well as memberships that run upwards of hundreds of dollars per month, it’s easy to see why ClassPass has taken the fitness market by storm.

Why Portland? 

As much as we like to pretend it’s not happening, the city is booming in just about every facet. And with a studio scene that rivals cities twice its size, Portland — aka America’s Fittest City — is a prime spot for ClassPass to set up shop.

Although I’ve officially been here since last August, I feel as though I’ve barely been able to scratch the surface of what’s available for us fit-minded folks. So when ClassPass asked me to check out their service and give my thoughts, I recruited my workout buddy Carolyn and we embarked on a #30ClassesIn30Days personal challenge.

Like kids in a candy store, we explored the entire workout spectrum of Stumptown. From unleashing while kickboxing to finding release through meditation, from swinging kettlebells to swinging through the air in aerial yoga — you name it, we’ve tried it. And had a blast in the process.

HelloPortland-640x436

Where’d we go? 

Read on for a sampling of all the spots that Carolyn and I were able to hit during our first month using ClassPass.

Our goal this next month is to keep branching out; not only is the variety a breath of fresh air, but it’s fantastic to be able to connect with — and support — some of Portland’s sweatiest hardest-working small business owners!

9Round: Get an efficient, yet effective, full-body kickboxing workout in just 30 minutes

a-wol Dance Collective: Fly through the air with the greatest of ease in aerial dance classes

The Bar Method: Reshape your booty body in an hour in an upbeat, barre-based class

The Bhaktishop Yoga Center: Celebrate yoga in a warm, friendly, bhakti-based practice

CorePower Yoga: Exhilarate body and mind; be prepared to sweat buckets in the process

Firebrand Sports: Don’t make more time to workout, just up intensity at this place. ‘Nuff said!

Honest Training: Focus on finding your personal best (bonus: owned by Coeur pal, Paisley)

Hush Meditation: Better your mind through simple and accessible guided mediation classes

Pil-oga-robic: Receive a balanced butt-kicking in a yoga, Pilates, cardio & strength combo

POINT: Train hard indoors here to build functional strength so you can play hard outdoors!

Revocycle: Transcend cycling with this moving meditation that works both mind & body

Skogg System: Convert your body’s vulnerabilities into strengths with kettlebells

Studio Blue Pilates: Develop strength and find your center through yoga and Pilates

Xtend Barre: Strengthen, lengthen and chisel your body with dance, ballet & Pilates

Yoga Pod: Rejuvenate your body, refresh your mind and replenish your spirit

ClassPass

Too good to be true?

By now you’re probably wondering, “So what’s the catch here?”

Well, while some question whether or not it’s a sustainable business model, others say ClassPass is worth its weight in gold when it comes to advertising and customer acquisition, especially for new studios looking for traction in a crowded market.

From the consumer perspective, I’ve found it to be an excellent discovery tool — not only for studios I’d never heard of, but also for workouts I may not otherwise have tried. Plus, if you’re like me and like to keep your body confused with all kinds of crazy cross-training without completely emptying your wallet, it can be the best of both worlds.

Wanna check it out?

Here’s a list of the cities in which ClassPass is currently available (if you’re not on it, don’t fret — they’re adding more all the time).

And if you’re ready to take the ClassPass plunge, I can sweeten the deal — simply use this link (good for ANY location but expires tomorrow, 3/24) to sign up and get $25 off your first month!

What’s your take on the “boutique fitness membership” movement?

The Last-Minute Half Marathon Training Plan

Brooks_SS12_1_Botanical_01745

What do you do when you’ve got a half marathon in less than six weeks and your running game has been lacking as of late?

A) Calculate the plausibility of using this month’s time change as an excuse for missing the race…next month.

B) Petition the race director to allow you to turn it into an impromptu duathlon.

C) Briefly consider hosting a blog giveaway for your bib.

D) Make a game plan, and get after it.

Answer: You guessed it, which is why I created this last-minute training strategy for getting Ben and I across the finish line of the Corvallis Half Marathon on April 12.

It’s nothing fancy, but it’s been helping us conservatively safely build up our mileage and will even allow for a tiny taper before race day.

HMTraining

It’s still early in the season, and I’ve been doing way more cross training than running, so I’m not on the hunt for a PR (Ben may beg to differ; he’s eyeing a sub-1:50 finish). Rather, the idea is just to ease my legs — and my mind — back in to racing, so I can start to build toward that 50K in May.

As much as my off-season feels like it’s been extended into spring, I’ve loved taking the past few months to focus on strength, flexibility and adaptability with all different kinds of workouts. Plus, the mental break has been invaluable; I’m really looking forward to digging into training, as well as ramping up with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run come April 6 when our season officially kicks off.

What’s your approach to the upcoming race season? 

Simple Microwave Hacks That Will Change Your Life

microwave-1960s

That’s a pretty bold claim, isn’t it?

Well, whether it’s re-heating leftovers, popping some corn for movie night or making the occasional guilty pleasure (frozen. chicken. pot. pie.), the humble microwave is the workhorse of the kitchen, having saved time-pressed home cooks for decades.

And even though our family food preferences have evolved from Lean Cuisine to “lean-and-green” — as in, and emphasis on unprocessed foods, proteins and veggies — the microwave still proves to be a very versatile appliance that can be used in unexpected ways.

For example, did you know that by nuking your citrus fruits for a few seconds you can get more juice out of them? Or that microwaving garlic and tomatoes before cooking makes them easier to peel? Or that you can clean that caked gunk off of microwave walls in just five minutes with a bowl of water and a lemon?

Yep, knowing how to better utilize your microwave will not only save you time, but also help you make the most out of your food — just check out all the cool tips in the “Microwave Hacks for Daily Life” infographic below.

I can’t wait to try some of these out myself, so I thought it was worth sharing!


Source: PartSelect.com

What are your favorite microwave hacks?

The 10 Commandments of Running Buddies

"2015 Hagg Lake Mud Runs Ultra 25k"

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. -African Proverb

The running buddy relationship is something special. As in, if you get a good one, it’s well worth it’s weight in gold. Or at least finisher’s medals.

He’s willing to hang patiently outside a public restroom while you tend to mid-run, marathon-training GI issues (thanks, Brian). You talk him out of that “dark place” while helping him conquer a new race distance (nice work, Ben). She’s a seasoned pro who selflessly paces you in your first ultramarathon (you rock, Jamie).

You meet her for “runch” to knock out a few mid-day miles (yep, Tasha). Or maybe you don’t even know each other, but you meet at the tail end of an overnight relay and provide some mutual moral support for the final few miles (shout out to Allison).

And those are just a handful of memories from the past year or so!

H2C

As much as I enjoy running solo to the tune of my own thoughts, there’s just something wonderful about the bond that forms between people who break a sweat together. And much like that elusive runner’s high, a good running buddy makes it feel effortless: The conversation flows as the miles fly by.

That’s not to say it’s a relationship without its ups and downs… Inevitably, you’ll end up seeing each other at your very worst, but you also learn the subtle art of pushing one another to be the best version of yourselves.

It’s also not a partnership to be taken lightly, which is why I love this running buddy pre-nup by Amy Marxkors. She hits the nail on the head when it comes to finding happily ever after, complete with calf cramps, bloody nipples and covered in GU. TMI?

With running comes freedom, but also a responsibility — and it’s that notion that inspired me to make my own list of “10 Commandments for Running Buddies,” a set of principles to help guide us as we tackle the roads and trails together.

silverfalls

1. Thou shalt remember that what happens on the run stays on the run. Runners usually cover more ground together than just miles, so they key is discretion when it comes to everything from topics of conversation to bodily functions.

2. Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover. Sometimes it’s the oddest couple that makes the best match, so keep an open mind and test the waters with a few casual runs before jumping into anything too serious.

3. Thou shalt aim thy bodily fluids properly. Say it, don’t spray it. Your buddy wants the news, not the weather. That goes for spit as well as snot, so just be smart and try not to unleash directly into the wind.

runch

4. Thou shalt choose thy buddy based on similar pace and goals. It’s important to have a frank discussion about where you are and where you’re looking to go. But don’t necessarily discount people of different paces! Even if they’re much faster, your tempo could be their recovery day, so it’s all about coordinating ahead of time.

5. Thou shalt respect thy buddy’s time — and vice versa. Occasional lateness is understandable, but perpetual lateness is unforgivable. Commit to whatever time you set, so you’re not leaving your buddy out in the cold (literally).

6. Thou shalt learn to read thy buddy’s body language. Some days your mouths may be running faster than your legs; other days one of you may feel like being more quiet and reflective while working through a wall. Respect each other’s space, and remember it’s ok to communicate if you need some silence.

Canyon Meadows
7. Thou shalt accommodate each other during training. Sh!t happens while running, so plan on sticking with your buddy through any kind of mid-run mishaps. Not only is it good karma, but it’s only a matter of time before he will be returning the favor.

8. Thou shalt not race without a game plan. There’s a huge difference between racing for fun and for time. If it’s the former, plan on sticking together and not paying attention to the clock. If it’s the latter, make a pact that you’re each going to run your own race — it’s every woman for herself in the pursuit of a PR.

9. Thou shalt not take things personally. Whether it’s conflicting schedules or chemistry that fizzles, recognize if something’s not working and when it might be time to move on. And just because you aren’t running soul mates doesn’t mean you can’t be yoga or boot-camp buddies instead.

jingle bell

10. Thou shalt maintain a sense of humor. Above all, remember to have fun together. Repeat after me: Keep it in perspective; it’s just one foot in front of the other, after all.

In the grand scheme of things, all the medals, PR’s and podium finishes in the world won’t outweigh the personal satisfaction that comes with forging a bond that allows you each to push each other beyond what you once thought were your limits.

Are there any running buddy commandments that you’d add to the list? 

4 Tips for Using Caffeine to Help Crank Up Your Workouts

caffeine-makes-you-work-out-better-fiar616-616x300

Have you heard the buzz over caffeine’s ability to affect your workout performance?

Studies suggest that having a cup or two of coffee, tea or cola before exercise can reduce perceived exertion, as well as help muscles recover more quickly after a sweat session. But before you buy stock in Starbucks or drink an entire pot pre-run, there are a few things to consider on your quest for a java-fueled jolt:

1. Take Duration Into Consideration

Most reports suggest that caffeine should be consumed about 45 minutes to an hour before activity in order to experience maximum effects, but since it’s absorbed quickly and lasts for hours, the exact timing won’t make or break your performance. In general, however, expect that any pre-workout boost may help postpone fatigue and provide that extra kick needed to cross the finish line for events lasting two hours or less.

2. Experiment With the Amount

An Australian study found that runners who took 95 milligrams of caffeine (equivalent to that in a cup of coffee) improved their 5K running time by an average of 10-12 seconds.While the average American’s caffeine intake is about 200 mg/day, athletes are encouraged to aim for three to six mg per kilogram of body weight, or somewhere between 210-400 mg of caffeine for a 150-pound person, for enhanced performance with minimal side effects.

4. Don’t Use It As a Crutch

If you’re relying on caffeine as an energy booster because you’re dog-tired during workouts, get to the root of what’s really causing fatigue. Are you not getting enough sleep? Are you overexercising? Or perhaps you’re not getting enough quality nutrition? Either way, something’s out of whack, so get to the bottom of it in order to make progress — and see results.

4. Keep It Clean, People

Just because you’re cleared for a cup (or two) of coffee before your workout doesn’t mean you need a triple-grande-whipped-cream-caramel-sugar-bomb to get going. Instead, create your own concoction with almond milk and cinnamon instead of processed creamers, or whip coffee or tea into your morning fruit smoothie for a more nutrient-rich start to your day.

Finally, it’s also worth mentioning a quick disclaimer: While caffeine is a widely recognized as a safe substance, it tends to affect people differently (e.g. may make you feel jittery, have a slight diuretic effect, etc.), so hydrate with plenty of water, and err on the side of caution by consulting with your doctor before adding anything into your training regimen.

Do you use caffeine as a way to enhance your workouts? 

Road Warrior Fitness: 20-Minute Hotel Body-Weight Workout

hotel-room-workout

Last month I had a flight that got cancelled and pushed out a day due to all the storms on the East Coast. The upside was that there are worse places to be stuck than in Florida…but the downside was that I would be missing a favorite workout class that I had signed up for in Portland to keep myself motivated and productive after a half day of travel.

But rather than let it derail my fitness routine (or keep me in a gym when I’d rather be catching some final rays of sun), I created a quick 20-minute body-weight workout that could be done in the comfort of my hotel room. It’s the best of both worlds — a mix of cardio and strength that comes in an efficient, yet effective, package.

The workout consists of four rounds, with four exercises in each round. The first exercise in each round is always a cardio move, followed by moves that target the upper body, lower body and core in the second, third and fourth exercises, respectively.

Allow yourself a minute or two to recover between rounds, and you’ve got yourself a great way to get a full-body workout in before you hit a full day or meetings (or an afternoon at the beach)!

HotelWorkout

How do you stay fit while on the road?