Recipe: So-Good-You-Won’t-Believe-What’s-In-‘Em Pancakes

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I may very well be the second-to-last person on Earth to have tried this recipe, as a quick Google search will reveal that it’s been circulating the interwebs for quite some time now. But in the off-chance you’re that lucky last person to have heard about it, I wanted to share it again here.

Which culinary magician originally invented this? No clue. I just happened to find out about it from a former co-worker, Claire, who posted some pictures on social media that had me drooling. Cue the following morning’s brunch where Ben and I tweaked a double batch and devoured the entire thing ourselves.

Traditionally, it’s a two-ingredient pancake with just banana and eggs. But in lieu of drenching the ‘cakes in maple syrup (damn you, Whole 30!), we spiced things up instead and added some extra protein to make them a more substantial meal.

So-Good-You-Won’t-Believe-What’s-In-‘Em Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 Tbsp almond butter

Directions:

  1. Add bananas, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice to a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Mix until smooth with an immersion (or regular) blender.
  3. Cook on pre-heated griddle, greased lightly with coconut oil, until both sides are browned.
  4. Keep hot, and serve immediately — with almond butter!

I love recipes where you can throw everything into one bowl; you can also change the flavor profile by adding other spices, fruit, cocoa powder, etc.

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Next step? Blend, baby, blend! Don’t be surprised if the batter gets all aerated and frothy.

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Spoon batter onto a hot griddle, and flip when pancakes are bubbly and have set.

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Cook on the other side for about a minute until lightly browned and cooked through.

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Layer hot ‘cakes with almond butter…and get ’em while they’re hot!

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Have you tried the famous two-ingredient pancakes?

I Feel the Need…the Need for (Chia) Seed

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As I was reviewing my goals for 2015 the other day, it struck me that there’s one, big gaping hole: Nutrition!

Between all the talk about training, racing, facing fears and choosing new challenges, I neglected to address the fact that fuel is a critical factor in overall health, performance and being able to push yourself.

And nothing against people — I’m looking at you, Chad Johnson — who claim to flourish with fast food, but I have a feeling that a diet chock-full of Big Macs would only land me in Big Trouble.

So as part of my “train smarter” goal, I’ve been reading this book and doing a lot of thinking about food as fuel. Not only trying to weed out a lot of processed junk (you’d be surprised how tough this can be!), but also attempting to consume more nutrient-dense foods — i.e. those that deliver the biggest “biggest bang for the buck,” meaning lots of nutrients for relatively few calories.

That’s where chia comes in. No, I don’t believe it’s a nutritional silver bullet, but it is purported to have twice as much protein as most grains and five times more calcium than milk. Factor in some good amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, soluble fiber, potassium and antioxidants, and I figured it’s a good addition to my healthy-eating regimen.

So what do you do with it? Well, here are four simple ways I’m slipping this little seed into my diet:

1. Chia-Specific Recipes: You may have seen my recent recipe for overnight oats, which has since become a family favorite for the tapioca-pudding-like texture, but there are countless ways in which chia can be used in recipes; check out these over at BuzzFeed.

2. Sneaky Substitutions: Simply swap in chia seeds for eggs or oil in recipes by mixing a tablespoon of chia seeds with one-quarter cup of water; use as a thickener for soups, sauces and puddings; or add chia seeds to an herb, seed or granola mix to bump up the nutrient factor.

3. 10,000-Year-Old Red Bull: In his book, Born to Run, Christopher McDougall studies a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and reveals their secrets — one of which is a drink called Chia Fresca (or iskiate), which features chia.

4. On-the-Go Snacks: Nope, it’s not just in the bulk food section of health food stores; chia’s now mainstream and in a number of products — just make sure it’s nothing super-processed or sugar-laden.

My new favorite mid-run snack are these Mamma Chia Squeezes (low in sugar, and all-natural chia + fruit + veggies), and instead of juice, I’ll grab one of their Vitality Beverages, which has added benefits of omega-3s, antioxidants, dietary fibers, as well as complete protein, calcium and magnesium.

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Have you jumped on the chia bandwagon? 

Fave Fix: GoodBelly 12-Day Belly Reboot

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The holidays tend out to bring out the crazy in all of us, right?

Case in point: After months of excess, we toss kale in our grocery carts and halfheartedly call it “eating healthy” (even though we’re buying roughly twice as many calories per serving in food now, as compared to the holidays, says this study) or commit to a crazy cleanse or restrictive diet that’s destined to leave us yoyo-ing throughout 2015.

Why abuse your gut in an effort to lose it?

My suggestion instead: Be nicer to your belly with a 12-Day Belly Reboot.

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The kind folks over at GoodBelly contacted me to check out their new program, which launched just in time for the New Year. During the Reboot, you drink one 8 oz. glass or one shot of GoodBelly a day for 12 days. Along the way, you’ll be able to track exactly what’s happening in your body and get extra motivation in the form of tips and coupons.

“Since probiotics do their work in the belly and beyond, there hasn’t necessarily been a way to see tangible results of their impact on overall health, ” said Alan Murray, CEO of GoodBelly. “Our new Belly Reboot was created to offer consumers a way to really track and understand how probiotics can impact the way they feel in just 12 days.”

Made with the well-researched probiotic strain, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V®), GoodBelly supports digestive health. Unlike many other live and active cultures, though, LP299V survives passage beyond the stomach’s acidic environment in order to support the rest of the digestive system, and ultimately overall health.*

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GoodBelly offers multi-serving quarts and single serving shots, available in flavors like Blueberry Acai, Mango, Pomegranate Blackberry and Strawberry. Each serving packs 20-50 billion live and active probiotic cultures to promote healthy digestive and immune systems, as 70 percent of the body’s immune system resides in the digestive tract.*

I kicked off my  12-day test just as things got hectic around the holidays. The juice was delicious, and the shots were convenient (some sweet, some tart, depending on the flavor), but best of all? Between last-minute shopping stress, unusually decadent meals, lots of travel and — to top it off — an especially active cold and flu season, I was not only able to stave off sickness, but also keep my energy up and banish bloat.

If you’re on the supplement bandwagon, like me, you may already take probiotic pills. In that case, GoodBelly’s a great way to add some variety (not to mention extra vitamins and calcium) to your diet. And if you’re new to the idea, it’s an easy — and delicious — way to augment your healthy eating habits for 2015.

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“We believe that what you eat and drink has a direct impact on your overall health,” said Murray. “Which is why we’re committed to creating functional beverages in exciting flavors that are easy to drink and absolutely delicious.”

Now, that’s really going with your gut.

For more information on the GoodBelly 12-Day Belly Reboot, click here.

*Some studies suggest GoodBelly’s probiotic may help balance the bacteria in your gut when consumed daily as part of a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle. GoodBelly is a food product and not a treatment or cure for any medical disorder or disease. If you have any concerns about your digestive system, please consult a health care professional.

Recipe: Green Eggs & Ham Scramble

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Earlier this week, I wrote about the health benefits of eggs, so I wanted to follow it up with one of my favorite breakfasts. Not only is this recipe perfect when you’re short on time in the morning — just throw everything into the pan at once and stir to cook — but it’s also not super scientific, so feel free to tweak the ratios of ingredients and experiment with different meats, cheeses and other add-ins.

Green Eggs & Ham Scramble (serves 4)

Ingredients: 

  • 8 eggs
  • 4 slices ham-off-the-bone, diced
  • 4 slices cheese, diced
  • 2 leaves kale, finely minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: 

  1. Prep your add-in ingredients first; wash, chop, then set aside.
  2. Crack the eggs into a pan that’s been heated with a little olive oil to coat the bottom.
  3. Add all the other ingredients, and stir until cooked to your desired consistency.

When I made this, I just happened to have deli chicken on hand, so I used that instead of the ham. And cheese-wise, I went with a Gouda, which lent a nice hint of smokiness to the dish.

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Wash, dry and finely mince the kale before tossing it into the pan with the other ingredients. That way it’ll cook down properly; the last think you want is to feel like you’re eating scrambled eggs mixed with a salad (ew).

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I happen to like my eggs on the drier side, too, so I cook everything longer — and this also gives the kale a chance to soften up. Make sure all the ingredients are incorporated evenly, and season to taste.

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Still not sure how you feel about eggs with kale? Well, in the words of our beloved Dr. Seuss:

You do not like them, so you say.
Try them! Try them! And you may.
Try them and you may, I say.

Happy, healthy eating! 🙂

 

Give ’em a Break: Make Eggs Part of Your Heart-Healthy Diet

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If you’re among the approximately 25 percent of Americans who avoid eating eggs at all costs because you think they’re an unhealthy, cholesterol-spiking ‘eggstravagance,’ it’s time to get ‘re-eggducated.’

Sorry…couldn’t resist.

But in all seriousness, eggs don’t get the credit they deserve. Not only are they easy to cook, nutritious and delicious, but eggs are also a low-cost source of high-quality protein. Incredible and edible, each little guy packs 6.3 grams of protein (13 percent of the daily value) for a mere 68 calories.

And despite lingering artery-clogging cautions from 20 years ago, you can easily eat an egg a day without any negative impact on cholesterol and blood fat levels. This ‘eggcellent’ source of complete nutrition has been proven as essential for weight management, healthy brain and eye function, plus optimal health during pregnancy.

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Eggs are the total package when it comes to eating well: rich in choline, which is critical to brain function and memory, and full of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness. And if that’s not enough, eggs also contain vitamins, iron, folate (helps prevent birth defects) and Riboflavin (converts foods into energy), plus heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

According to the Egg Nutrition Center, there’s no difference in flavor or nutritional value between brown and white eggs; shell color simply reflects the breed of hen. Nutritional quality, however, can vary greatly based on the chicken’s diet. So hens fed a diet high in polyunsaturated fats – kelp meal, for example – lay eggs that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Similarly, free-range chicken eggs tend to contain higher amounts of vitamins and lower amounts of cholesterol than eggs from standard, factory-fed chickens.

Eggs in the U.S. are classified according to the USDA grading system, which includes labels of AA, A or B. This grading indicates quality based on several factors, including freshness, with AA representing the highest quality. Eggs are also labeled according to their size – jumbo, extra-large, large, medium and small and peewee – which is classified according to minimum net weight expressed in ounces per dozen.

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When shopping for eggs, look for shells that are clean and whole; never use an egg if it is cracked and leaking. Refrigerate immediately after buying; eggs will keep well for several weeks at temperatures of 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit. To test for freshness, place raw eggs in a deep bowl of water and discard any that float to the surface (as eggs age, more air is present in the shell).

Fry ‘em, scramble ‘em, boil ‘em or bake ‘em; whatever you do, don’t be a chicken about making nutrient-dense eggs a staple in your healthy eating regimen. For nutritional facts, a range of recipes and other information, visit the American Egg Board website here.

What’s your favorite way to incorporate eggs as part of a healthy diet?

Recipe: Thrive Energy Cookbook’s black bean, sweet corn & mango salsa

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While I’m no vegetarian, I do make an effort to incorporate plant-based, nutrient-dense, whole-food recipes into my meal planning.

Why? Well, as much as I love a good steak, I can feel my body processing it for hours on end; sometimes it’s nice to eat stuff that’s less intensive to digest, which means you’ll have more overall energy.

That’s why I was excited about checking out the new Thrive Energy Cookbook from Brendan Brazier (former pro triathlete, ultramarathon champ, creator of Vega). His purpose-driven recipes are intended to fuel performance.

This salsa, for example, is a twist on the southwestern classic. Bursting with flavor — and protein — it’s perfect over veggies, atop a salad or (my favorite) with chicken or fish.

Thrive Energy Cookbook’s Black Bean, Sweet Corn & Mango Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (or rinsed canned) black beans
  • 1 cup peeled and diced mango
  • 1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (from 2 cobs)
  • 1/4 cup finely-diced red onion
  • Handful of fresh cilantro leaves, torn
  • 3-4 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp avocado or hemp oil
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Toss well. Best served immediately.

First, gather all the ingredients — note: I substituted olive oil for the avocado/hemp oil, though, and used the whole can of beans.

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Want a trick for dicing up those tough-to-handle mangos? Slice ’em, score ’em, then flip ’em inside out and scrape out the chunks. Easy!

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Since Hubby and I are big cilantro fans, I added a bit more than the recipe called for, too.

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Look at all that awesome color! It’s a perfect pairing for quick meal on hot summer days.

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A quick stir, and you’re done — eat alone, with veggies, or spoon over grilled chicken or fish for a heartier, non-vegetarian meal.

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I’ll be sharing more recipes as I experiment with the book, but if you’d like to check out other plant-based options in the meantime, visit the Thrive Forward recipe center for more information.

Recipe: Raspberry Mint Rice Balls

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Allow me to introduce you to my new favorite training companion: the Feed Zone Portables cookbook. If you’re weary of processed bars and gels and the same old pasta, there’s a good chance it’ll soon become your BFF (that’s Best Fueling Friend), too.

After my ultra pacer Jamie had success with the rice cakes during her Born to Run 100-miler, I jumped aboard the bandwagon and tweaked one of the recipes for my own race. It worked perfectly — not only is the rice-based treat quickly-digestible, but its mild flavor is also easy on a tender mid-event tummy.

Raspberry Mint Rice Balls (adapted from Feed Zone Portables)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely-shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Aluminum foil, cut into small squares
  • Olive oil spray

Directions:

  1. Combine rice, water and a dash of salt in a rice cooker and let cook.
  2. When rice is finished cooking, transfer it to a large bowl and add brown rice syrup, lemon juice and coconut. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Coat hands in olive oil, and place a spoonful of rice in the palm of one hand. Place a raspberry and a sprinkle of mint on top of rice, and then place another spoonful of rice over that (to encase raspberry and mint in rice). Roll gently between palms to form a ball.
  4. Place ball on foil wrapper (also sprayed with olive oil) and seal tightly. When finished forming and wrapping balls, store them in the refrigerator.

A few tips: First, make sure you prep all the ingredients ahead of time because forming the balls can get messy!

Although the book calls for flat “squares” or “cakes,” Jamie and I found that the balls are quicker to make. Plus, they tend to get squished around in your bento box or hydration pack anyway.

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Second, I did experience some trouble with the foil wrapper disintegrating during my trail race, which I attribute to the acidity of the lemon juice.

Next time, I may just try leaving it out, or I’ll look for an alternative wrapper (wax?) if I want to keep that nice citrus ‘bite.’

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The balls held up great, though, despite getting jostled around over the course of six-plus hours in my hydration pack on a hot day.

And the fresh fruity/minty flavor was a welcome change from the heavy nut butters I’m usually consuming, so I’ll definitely be relying on them again.

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Finally, I try to make them the day or evening before my race. Sure, it’s a little bit of last-minute race prep work, but it ensures that the fruit is at its freshest and that the rice stays nice and sticky for when you want to pop one (or 10) during your race. Bon appétit!

What’s your go-to fuel for training and racing?