Recipe: Kitchen Sink Energy Cookies

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Try as I might, I just can’t quit those dense, chewy, seed-laden Power Cookies from Whole Foods. Their siren song calls to me from the end of the conveyor belt, and somehow a package (or two) always sneaks itself into my basket at checkout.

But seeing as they’re quite the sugar bombs and surprisingly lacking in some key nutrients, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to re-create them at home with, ahem, whole-food ingredients.

The result? You’ll have to taste for yourself, but I think it’s pretty darn close. And they’re chock full of fiber, essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc (thanks to the dates!), plus natural sugars for a sustained energy boost.

Kitchen Sink Energy Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 c Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool date paste (directions here)
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 c wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 c oats
  • 1/2 c wheat germ
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • 1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 3/4 c chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 c sesame seeds
  • 1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 c ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together wet ingredients until blended.
  3. In a large bowl, stir dry ingredients together.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Shape into golf ball-sized balls with your hands, and gently flatten before placing onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake ~15 minutes or until cookie tops feel dry to the touch.

 

Recipe: Cocoa Recovery Truffles

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Eating well on the run isn’t always easy. But eating well while running…or, more specifically, while training and building mileage can be even tougher.

Suddenly justifications abound for treating yourself. And before you know it, “just this once” becomes a regular part of your routine. Or at least for me it does.

That’s why I’ve started whipping up batches of what I’ve dubbed my Cocoa Recovery Truffles. Full of protein, good fats, vitamins, antioxidants and decadent flavor, they hit the spot when you’re craving sweets yet still deliver some great nutritional benefits.

Cocoa Recovery Truffles

Ingredients:

  • Approx 1 cup almond meal (use leftovers from making almond milk)
  • 2 cups unsweetened, finely-shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 10 Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed to liquid)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs

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Directions:

  1. Combine almond meal, coconut, hemp hearts, cinnamon, vanilla, water, salt, dates & cocoa powder in a food processor, blending to a uniform consistency.
  2. Turn off food processor & scrape down the sides.
  3. Replace cover, turn it back on & slowly pour in coconut oil until fully incorporated.
  4. Transfer mixture to a bowl & stir in cacao nibs.
  5. Using a spoon, scoop mixture into hands & roll gently into small balls.
  6. Store in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper, for up to one week.

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Almost as good as my favorite indulgence of diving spoon-first into a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough!

Recipe: No Added Sugar Banana Zucchini Date (Smash!) Cake

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They say that with age comes wisdom. But, for me, it took being responsible for another little life to finally smarten up about my eating habits.

Sure, Ben and I have always tried to eat healthy, which mostly meant forgoing sugary treats until we’d eventually cave into temptation…only to start a cycle of guilt, restriction and inevitable relapse.

But it wasn’t until I got pregnant that I decided to cut myself some slack and relax when it came to cravings. Although with space in the belly at a premium, you’ve got to make every calorie count.

When I stopped thinking of foods as “good” and “bad” and started judging them on their nutrient density, I felt empowered instead of deprived. Not to mention it felt great to fuel my body — and my baby — with whole foods that would help both of us thrive.

Enter Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool dates. I’ve partnered with them this year to help our family make the swap from refined sugars to a more natural alternative: whole foods that the body can recognize and pull nutrients from.

My 2015 almond milk experiment started what has become a passionate love affair with these little gems. Medjool dates deliver sustained energy from their combo of fiber and natural sugars, plus they’re packed with potassium to support muscle fuel and recovery.

So Wyatt’s first birthday “smash cake” became an experiment of sorts in substituting date paste for processed sugar. It may have taken me a few attempts — the first was too moist, the second was too dense — but the third time was a charm, as you can see from the shot below.

This recipe works for birthdays, but I think it’s even better made into muffins for a quick energy boost throughout the day. Finally, you can have your cake — and eat it (along with some very valuable nutrients), too.

No Added Sugar Banana Zucchini Date Cake

Ingredients: 

  • 2 small zucchinis, grated & squeezed dry (about 2 cups)
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup date paste
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease muffin cups with coconut oil (or use muffin liners).
  2. In large bowl, mix together zucchini and banana. Add eggs one at a time.
  3. Blend in date paste, peanut butter and vanilla.
  4. In small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add slowly to wet ingredients, stirring to incorporate.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups, filling each 3/4 of the way.
  6. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into muffin come out clean.

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Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Fit Mom: Valerie Marshall on Finding the Balance in Motherhood

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One week overdue with baby number two (left) & just five weeks postpartum (right)!

Most of the time I dedicate my Q&A’s here on the blog to athletes in pursuit of race goals, but this week I’m talking to a now-mom-of-two with some pretty awesome athletic achievements of her own.

I did a double-take when Valerie Marshall posted her pregnancy transformation shots (below) a few months back and was curious to chat with her more about her post-pregnancy journey.

While Val’s results may not necessarily be the norm (case in point: I’ve still got a few pounds to lose seven months out, but I’m in no hurry), they’re a testament to her hard work and dedication.

Yes, Val looks fabulous, but what I particularly love is that she embodies how pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood can be incorporated into a lifelong pursuit of health and fitness instead of approaching them as if you’ve reached the end of the road.

Read on for more of her philosophies, as well as Val’s top tip for new moms who are looking to reclaim their fitness and achieve “homeostasis” in their life…

Your transformation picture after your first pregnancy is impressive! What was your motivation for getting back into shape post-baby?

My motivation for getting into shape postpartum was easy and natural for me; I just wanted to exercise the way I did prior to pregnancy (and breastfeeding definitely helped). Before I was pregnant with Roman, my first pregnancy, I was training for my fourth marathon and I so badly wanted to get back to that place.

Did you do anything during your pregnancy that you think allowed you to bounce back more quickly after?

During my pregnancy I continued to exercise, but I modified high intensity workouts to medium or low intensity. As third trimester approached, I started to walk instead of run and do yoga or barre instead spin class. I believe that I bounced back so quickly postpartum due to exercising regularly before and during my whole pregnancy.

You attribute it to physical and nutritional work, but also a balance of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical – can you elaborate on what that means to you?

I attribute my overall well-being postpartum to the whole spectrum of wellness: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical.

Social: Within days postpartum I had my very first date as a mom with my husband, just the two of us. I had a difficult time leaving my newborn son, but I needed to remember that I am not only a mom, but a wife, too. About a week postpartum, I had my first girls’ night since being a mom. Once again, it was difficult to leave my newborn son, but I needed to remember that I am an individual as well as a momma. Plus, it was great bonding for my son to spend one-on-one time with his dad. From that first week on until now, I make sure to schedule out time for my husband, myself and friends and family; it’s all about balance in life.

Emotional: I was very emotional when I first became a momma, and throughout pregnancy; mainly due to hormones and lack of sleep, but also do to a changing lifestyle. To help keep myself in check, I went to yoga/meditated, exercised, and journaled.

Spiritual: Spiritually, I am a Christian and love to worship. So I made sure to set aside time for God, whether at church, in the car, or at home (usually while breastfeeding).

Environmental: This does not directly relate to how I bounced back postpartum, but I do try to use all organic products and organic/minimally processed foods. I enjoy the great outdoors and breathing in fresh air (I love living in Bend where recreational fitness is all around).

Occupational/Intellectual: Prior to being a momma I was a working-woman with a degree in Fitness and Nutrition. I made it a point to keep up on educating myself, so that one day when I do enter the workforce I will not be lost in the dark. I also really love learning about wellness and educating not only myself, but friends and family, as well.

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Val gained 40lbs while pregnant with her first baby (upper left), then had 10 lbs and muscle left to gain one day postpartum (upper right). She credits a “proper balance of wellness” to her results nine mos later (bottom)!

Walk us through some highlights of typical days of exercise & nutrition – immediately after, then 3, 6, 9 and 12 months out from being pregnant.

Highlights of typical days of exercise and nutrition: We all love to have our cake and eat it, too. I am a huge believer in rewarding yourself whether that be with food or not, but for me, I definitely reward myself with desserts. Plus, breastfeeding made me extremely hungry all of the time. I try to eat a “balanced” diet most days of the week to maintain a healthy lifestyle now and for a healthy future.

Nutrition is not only for weight, but is also for prevention and treatment of many diseases, so I try to keep that in mind when I am planning my meals. Meal planning was extremely important for my nutritional habits postpartum. It is so easy just to snack and graze throughout the day or to go long periods of time without eating. I would meal prep and prepare meals usually on Sundays or even just the night before. This definitely takes time out of your already busy and tiring day, but it is so worth it. I could talk days and days about nutrition, it is a true science to find what works for your body and lifestyle.

0-3 months: Due to nap schedules and lack of sleep, I exercised whenever I could find time. During those first three months I spent a lot of time walking, running and doing Barre3. At the local gym, there is a Baby and Mommy cycle class, where I could bring Roman in with me. This class was awesome, I was able to do an hour cycle class and he either napped in the stroller right in front of me or he played on a blanket on the floor.

3-9 months: I was not quite ready to introduce Roman into gym daycares yet, so I continued to exercise at home or when my husband, mom or best friend could watch him. During these months I ran, went to Baby and Mommy cycle class, started cardio yoga and did p90x.

9-12 months: I was finally ready to introduce Roman to gym daycares, which he loves going to. Roman started walking at 9 months, so he was on the move, which made it difficult to exercise at home. At the gym, I participated in HIIT classes, cycle classes, cardio yoga and some light lifting in the weight room.

And baby no. 2 (the adorable Kennadi) is a girl – congratulations! How was your second pregnancy? What’s the same & what’s different this time around?

Pregnancy #2: I was so excited and much more relaxed with this pregnancy. I had a lot of energy, thank goodness, since I was chasing after a toddler all of the time. I exercised and did my prenatal stretches most days of the week to prepare for the arrival of baby girl. I had a much more difficult time eating “healthy,” however; all I want to do is eat cookies and bagels with cream cheese!

My plan was to just play-it-by-ear for the first month or so when it comes to setting any fitness goals. Basic fitness goals of mine, with no set timeline as of now, would be to run a few more full marathons and maybe even my first sprint triathlon. Physically, I would love to get my body back to where it has been in the past, but I have a feeling that will take more time this round than it did when I was just a mother of one.

What’s your top tip for new moms who are looking to reclaim their fitness and achieve “homeostasis” in their life, as you call it?

My top tip is to set goals, make a schedule, have a plan and stick with it. Most importantly, remember that you are an amazing mother, but you are not only a mother; you have so many more roles in life and they should all be given special attention.

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The Baggs family: Roman, Tim, Val & Kennadi

Thanks for your time, Val — and congratulations again on your beautiful new addition!

Fit mamas, I’d love to interview you! Email me at info (at) kineticfix (dot) com for info. 

Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

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When life hands you lemons…MAKE MUFFINS!

It’s good to have a go-to recipe in your back pocket, whether someone stops by unexpectedly, you want to take a crowd-pleaser to an event or you’re looking for something special — yet simple — on a weekend morning.

Mine just happens to be lemon blueberry muffins; not only do I always seem to have the ingredients on hand, but they’ve never earned less than rave reviews (seriously, yogurt is the secret to tangy, moist, yummy muffins).

No blueberries? No problem. I experimented recently with a raspberry version that’s just as lovely — plus it’s lower in sugar and includes some extra nutrients and fiber thanks to the addition of wheat flour.

Lemon Raspberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

(recipe adapted from Running with Spoons)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 medium lemon
  • zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare a muffin pan by spraying cavities with cooking spray or greasing them with oil. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt and sugar, mixing until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes smooth. Add oil, honey, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest, mixing until well incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to yogurt mixture, mixing gently until just combined. Fold in berries.
  5. Divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Batter will be on the thicker side, so use a spoon to scoop it in. Sprinkle with additional berries, if desired.
  6. Bake muffins for 20-22 minutes, or until top is firm to the touch and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Got any go-to recipes that you’ve relied on over the years?

Recipe: Best-Ever Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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If you’re looking for one of the most delicious, nutrient-dense treats out there, this recipe just may be the Holy Grail of chocolate chip cookies.

Full disclosure, though: They’re actually “lactation cookies” meant for increasing a nursing mom’s milk supply. But dads and everyone else, don’t worry — they will not spontaneously produce lactation!

Even if you’re not breastfeeding, these cookies deliver important nutrients that all of us need, such as zinc, fiber, good fats, iron, protein, B vitamins, chromium, selenium and various other trace minerals.

Not to mention, they’re absolutely delicious…

Best-Ever Chocolate Chunk Cookies

(adapted from HowSweetItIs.com)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cut whole-wheat flour
  • 5 tablespoons brewers yeast
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon wheat germ
  • 1/2 ounce unsweetened coconut chips/flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons unrefined organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 1/4 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips/chunks (I chopped up a few king size Hershey’s bars we had lying around, just to use them up)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven the 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together both kinds of oats, flours, yeast, flaxseed, wheat germ, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and coconut oil on medium speed until creamy. Add in the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Add in the egg and egg yolk, beating until combined. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined again. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula until they are evenly dispersed.
  4. Form the dough into 1-inch rounds and place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the bottoms are just golden. Let cool completely before storing in a sealed container.
If you have a great lactation recipe, please feel free to share below! 

15 Healthy Snacks for the Pregnancy Homestretch

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Combine shrinking stomach space and a temperamental tummy with the mounting nutritional needs of growing a baby, and you’ve got a potential recipe for pregnancy disaster.

Case in point: When an earlier ultrasound revealed that Baby H might be measuring behind, my doctor had me double down on healthy fats, cut back on exercise and increase meal frequency. Now we know it was just a wonky measurement due to breech positioning, but nothing like another dip on the emotional roller-coaster that comes with being a first-time mom! 

Normal-sized meals may be out the window, and lack of time and energy can make it tempting to grab whatever’s nearby (or cave in to cravings) so I’ve been relying heavily on snacking. Having the following 15 mini-meals in my arsenal have been key to putting my mind at ease — and keeping my blood sugar levels from dropping.

1. Protein Shakes. Convenient grab-and-go-option for a quick shot of protein and calcium; my go-to is banana, ice, protein powder, peanut butter and milk in my trusty immersion blender.

2. Cheese Sticks & Crackers. Protein, calcium and just the right amount of carbs when you’re craving something salty and starchy.

3. Fruit with Nut Butter. Think of your usual apples, bananas and pears as a blank canvas for all the great butter flavors and blends out there.

4. Guacamole. Avocados are a wonderful source of good fats, and they’re especially delicious as a zesty dip (for chips) or spread (for sandwiches).

5. Cereal & Milk. Although my current favorite is shredded wheat with fruit in the middle (fiber!), I’ve eaten my fair share of fortified kids’ cereals without guilt these past nine-plus months.

6. Yogurt, Granola & Berries. One of my very favorite breakfasts, this parfait delivers good protein, nutrients and fiber without being too filling.

7. Oatmeal & Mix-ins. Pick a theme — sweet or savory — and there’s no limit to the amount of good stuff that can be packed into one bowl!

8. Fresh Fruit. Delicious, portable, bursting with nutrients and full of flavor, I aim for a few servings a day to add variety to my diet.

9. Hard-Boiled Eggs. Incredible and edible, these protein-packed bites are a great way to stay satiated between meals and keep energy levels steady.

10. Dried Fruit & Nuts. Mix and match for a sweet and salty treat that’s great for taking with you for anywhere, anytime snacking.

11. Ants on a Log. Don’t discount the old childhood throwback! Spread your favorite peanut butter on celery sticks, and top with raisins.

12. Cottage Cheese & Sunflower Seeds. I know, I know…it’s a weird combo. But don’t knock it ’til you try it — the creamy, crunchy, savory flavors hit the spot.

13. Dates With Cream Cheese & Walnuts. Halve dates, fill with a smear of cream cheese and top with a walnut. Also makes an elegant appetizer!

14. Baby Carrots & Hummus. When you’ve got a craving for crunch, nothing does the trick quite like this sweet, tangy combination.

15. Healthy Bars. Make your own or pick up a few favorites (mine are KIND, LUNA and Larabar) to pack in your purse for when hanger strikes.

What are your favorite pregnancy (and non-pregnancy!) snacks?