Recipe: Orange Dreamsicle Protein Smoothie

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Maybe it’s just my Midwestern roots, but the taste of an Orange Julius always brings back fond memories of trips to the mall with my mom.

The only problem? Now that I’m grown up and we’re all better informed about eating healthy, the drink’s nutrition information (or lack there of?) is a tad disturbing.

Yes, I’m talking about you, 0 grams of dietary fiber and 54 grams of sugar in a SMALL serving. 

So in a recent Oregon heat wave I set about recreating this classic treat. Step one was removing any kind of artificial ingredients. Step two was giving it a boost in the nutritional value department.

Typically I sweeten my smoothies with bananas, but this one was just begging for dates. Why? Not only do dates have 50 percent more potassium by weight than bananas, but they don’t overwhelm the flavor if you’re working with a recipe like this.

And to amp up the fiber, I added ground flax seed and wheat germ. Don’t worry; you won’t even notice ’em, but your body will thank you for the extra omega-3’s, lignans (which reduce the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men), vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, thiamin, folate and phosphorus.

One taste, and you’ll be transported back to childhood!

Orange Dreamsicle Protein Smoothie

Ingredients: 

  • 1 c orange juice
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 c plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • 1/4 c Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool date paste (directions here)
  • 1 scoop of your favorite vanilla protein powder
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed meal
  • 2 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 15 ice cubes
  • Sprinkle of granola

Directions: 

  1. Toss all ingredients into a high-speed blender or food processor & blend.
  2. Pour into two glasses, garnish with a sprinkle of granola & serve immediately.
  3. Enjoy!
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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!

May Goal Check-In

 

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You know how when you start running, it can be pretty uncomfortable, discouraging and fill you with self-doubt? Well, that’s also how the initial few months with your first baby can feel.

Am I doing this correctly? I have no clue. Is this normal? Who knows. Is he happy? I sure hope so. 

But then you push through, eventually hit your stride, and that’s when things finally start to click. That’s exactly how this past month felt.

Not that we’ve got everything figured out — far from it! But we’ve started to get into a good rhythm as a family and find some semblance of a life outside of diapers, naps, bottles and mountains of laundry.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

After last month’s initial excitement of being cleared to work out again, my goal for May was to address any weaknesses from the last year of bodily changes, as well as help protect myself against future issues — i.e. “mommy slump” from feedings or back pain from picking up a rapidly-growing kiddo.

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Enter the wonderful Angi McClure, who runs a program here in Portland call Body401k. She’s not about quick fixes; her work focuses on in vesting in body longevity because, let’s face it, we’re in ’em for the long haul, so the least we can do is take good care of ’em.

I worked out with Angi while I was pregnant, and I know a lot of the work we did helped me stay strong while carrying Wyatt and recover quickly after. So now that I’m getting back into my fitness routine, I’ve resumed sessions because it’s one thing to be cleared to work out and it’s quite another to proceed properly while learning how to navigate the ‘new normal’ of your body.

Another awesome component of postnatal fitness? Stroller Strides.

If all goes to hell, at least I can count on this workout each week. Not only do I get to bring Wyatt along to a butt-kicker of a workout, but it’s also a fantastic way to commiserate connect with other moms in the area.

2. Training

My first official post-baby race (Wanderlust 108‘s 5k) is under my belt, and what can I say? It was rainy, it was cold, the course was hilly and I was huffing and puffing the whole time.

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But thanks to the encouragement of several of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, I got it done. No PR’s, no course records — just the satisfaction of knowing I finished, I have a baseline from which to work, and things can only get better from here.

That said, my grand plans to start building mileage this month in an effort to work into training for this fall’s Portland Marathon was an epic fail. I did manage to get a few miles in each week, but I’m currently thinking I’ll have to re-set expectations when it comes to that race.

3. Community

We had a busy but successful month with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run, thanks to our inaugural “Community Week” in which we teamed up with other local businesses and groups to highlight all the great things going on here in PDX.

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We ran, we yoga’d, we bootcamped, we shopped and we volunteered, all in the name of helping to get the word out about what we do, as well as show some love for a few of the great stores, studios and charities in the area.

Up next? In addition to our weekly workouts (Mondays, 6:30 pm at Duniway track), we’re working on organizing a scavenger hunt, as well as more events with our favorite people and places in the fitness community.

Check out our Facebook page for details, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates on what we’ve got going on each week.

4. Career

As I mentioned last month, I ended up extending my maternity leave from my company, Pulse Creative, through May. Mama intuition told me that Wyatt needed a full three months of being my sole focus, and I’m fortunate enough to have clients who are very understanding when it comes to balancing family with work.

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Having my Wanderlust gig, however, did allow me to ease back into things by leading the warm-up at the event’s 5K. And I even squeezed in a few client calls and informal proposals to get a few things in the queue for when I start to ramp back up in June.

5. Life

I’m pretty sure having a child is going to teach me many life lessons, the first of which are:

  1. You cannot control everything.
  2. You cannot do it all.

The way in which Wyatt was born did a pretty good job teaching me no. 1, and life with a baby is schooling me no. 2…every. single. day.

I’ve learned that there are two keys to surviving the first few months with an infant: delegation and outsourcing. Family and friends have been literal lifesavers for me and Ben, whether they’ve dropped off food, stopped by for a visit, shared war stories, helped with a feeding or stayed up practically all night to help us get a few hours of sleep (thanks, MOP!).

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But it’s other little luxuries like having someone come in to tidy up your looks-like-a-bomb-went-off apartment every few weeks or a few precious hours here and there with an extra pair of hands, thanks to this awesome flexible childcare service, that help make a job that’s 24/7 — with no breaks, sick days or vacation — a little more sustainable.

Which leads me to the third, and perhaps the most important, life lesson I’ve learned so far from Wyatt’s past few months on this planet:

Happy moms make happy babies. 

My pediatrician told me this early on, but it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood what he meant — i.e. it’s important to be able to take a step back once in a while and make a little time for myself to regroup.

Not only does this give me better perspective as a mom, but also does wonders for me as a person when I have those oh-my-God-what-did-I-get-myself-into moments where I feel totally overwhelmed and impossibly unprepared.

Because, as I’m learning from my more seasoned parent friends, that feeling never quite goes away!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

Body After Baby: 10 Tips for Easing Back into a Fitness Routine

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A fellow active mama and I were chatting over coffee after our Stroller Striders class the other morning. While reminiscing about our racing days and talking about training plans that have since been derailed, we came to the consensus that the whole”bouncing back” after pregnancy concept is a load of crap.

Sure, recovery is one thing. I credit an active pregnancy with being able to get back on my feet fairly quickly after my c-section.

But fitness and performance? That’s another thing entirely.

So in an attempt to set the record straight on the “body after baby” business, I figured I’d share a few of my real-life tips on upping your activity ante post-baby:

1. Go on the offense. I learned firsthand that it’s not so much pregnancy that will sideline you; it’s the fact that you’ll be sitting around for six weeks afterwards recovering, nursing, not sleeping, etc. So start early and often — bank whatever training you can muster while pregnant to keep from going into too much of a deficit after baby’s debut.

2. Wait for the all-clear. As eager as you may be and as great as you may feel, do not disregard your doctor’s orders. Wait until bleeding stops, incisions are healed and you’re given the go ahead from your doctor to resume regular activity. I’ve heard way too many stories of mamas pushing it prematurely only to end up with injuries and other setbacks.

3. Start slooowly. Don’t expect to come out of the gate right where you left off! This was a tough pill for me to swallow, but I made the decision to relish walking and enjoy not working out for six weeks. Think of it as an extended rest and recovery from training — and use the time to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and fight off cabin fever.

4. Take the pyramid approach. When you’re training for a race, you taper down so you peak on the day of the event, right? Well, labor and delivery is the same concept, except in inverse — you slowly decrease intensity and modify exercise as you get more pregnant and then build back up afterwards.

5. Enlist help from a pro. Sometimes it takes an outside voice of reason to make you take it easy, build a solid foundation and help keep things in perspective. And take it from me, it’s well worth the investment to rebuild that core because you’ll need it as baby grows in fits and spurts!

6. Embrace the suck. Know going in that it’s not going to feel great. And expect to end up in a frustrated funk when you realize just how off-balance and generally unfit you feel after having a baby. So set your expectations accordingly, and you’ll have more patience for chipping away slowly at that #mombod.

7. Tag team your little one. A fit mama friend revealed this brilliant approach toward weekend workouts. If you and your hubby are both trying to squeeze in some major training, one person gets priority on Saturday morning while the other person gets dibs on prime workout time on Sunday.

8. Enlist your new workout partner. This took me a while to feel comfortable with, but around two months in, I joined said Stroller Striders class with Wyatt. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…er, if you can’t leave ’em at home, bring ’em along to your workout!

9. Set a major goal with mini milestones. Time flies when you’re tending to a little human, so set some dates on the calendar to get yourself back in the game. For example, my first post-baby race was the recent Wanderlust 5k, which helped get me fired up for Portland Marathon training.

10. Be kind to yourself. Finally, if you do nothing else and take no other advice from me, give yourself a break. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a new mom is that we’re all just trying our best to get by, so a little kindness with the self-talk goes a long way. After all, life has changed dramatically and your priorities have shifted, so your best bet is to take the new twists and turns in your fitness journey in stride!

What are your favorite tips for getting back on the fitness bandwagon post-baby?

March Goal Check-In

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Between a new baby, c-section recovery and getting hit with a nasty flu bug that’s been circulating around Portland a week after Wyatt’s arrival, this month was about one thing and one thing only: Survival.

Sometimes it’s less about looking forward and more about living in the moment — or just getting by from one minute to the next.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

I’m still not sure where March went; quite frankly, it’s a blur of dirty diapers, newborn cuddles, sleepless nights, non-stop breastfeeding, pediatrician appointments and a whole lot of staring and smiling at this new little man who has now made us a family of three.

Workouts and training are on hold for at least a few more weeks until I’m cleared by my OB (more on postpartum fitness in a coming post). I have managed to sneak out for a handful of walks when the weather’s nice, which helps me manage the inevitable cabin fever that comes with caring for a newborn ’round the clock.

Work is also on hold for the time being until we can find our groove; Wyatt’s on the gassier/fussier end of the spectrum, so I anticipate it’ll be at least a few more weeks until we get an uninterrupted nap or extended stretch of zzz’s at night (hello, sleep deprivation).

Prep for Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season two, however, has been in progress and I’m happy to announce that our first workout will be on Monday, April 11 at Duniway Track from 6:30-7:30 p.m. As always, it’s FREE and open to women of all levels and abilities (not to mention we’ve got yummy LUNA bars and great LUNA swag for participants), so follow our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for details.

Until then, it’s just one foot (or feeding…or diaper change…or snuggle) in front of the other…

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

Fave Fix: My Latest Compression Obsession

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about pregnancy and running, it’s to expect the unexpected. Especially at this stage in the game (about 23 weeks) where some days I barely feel like I know my own body anymore…let alone know how to maneuver it through mileage that used to be a breeze but now has pausing every now and then to catch my breath, constantly re-adjusting my ever-shrinking workout wardrobe and stopping for (inevitable…and consistent) pee breaks.

With my mid-run annoyance meter set to super-sensitive, it’s more important now than ever before to limit additional distractions while working out. After all, the point is to get out, stretch my legs and clear my head — and that’s a lot easier said than done unless I make sure to get a few variables under control, such as fueling, hydration and gear.

Since food and water are priority numeros uno and dos these days, those are pretty much a given. But gear, that’s something I’m always tinkering with, trying to find the right combination to make my body happy so my brain can turn off for a while during a run.

And, as you know, I’ve been extolling the virtues of compression for years so it was high time that I put it to the test during pregnancy. While the actual claims are always up for debate (more power and endurance, less exertion and vibration), the placebo effect has won me over time and time again…so when Legend Compression Wear sent me a pair of their compression performance socks to check out, I could.not.wait to get out on the roads with ’em.

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“My Vision for LEGEND™ began with the notion of …Be a LEGEND™ which really formed our thinking around our Performance Wear products,” said the company’s president and founder, John Thomas. “We want to provide the necessary support for athletes to reach their goals.”

Geared specifically towards improving performance, Legend’s muscle stabilization and overall graduated compression technology (15-20 mmHg) claims to help improve endurance, decrease injuries and speed recovery times thanks to increased oxygen levels and blood circulation. Now, I’m not sure if that’s true, clinically, but I’ve worn my fair share of compression gear, so I’m always interested to see how the different brands stack up against each other.

Immediately out of the package, I liked how soft and stretchy the fabric was, along with the seamless toe and foot that is cushioned yet made to expand slightly to the shape of your tootsies. These may seem like minor points, but trust me — when you’re a few miles into a run and get blindsided with a blister, you’ll start thinking twice about what you put on your feet!

Legend’s Compression Performance Socks also get bonus points for arch support to keep the socks from slipping and extra support at the heel and Achilles, along with special yarn and stitching that not only wicks moisture, but also allows legs and feet to breathe.

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re thinking. That all sounds great. But what’s the verdict post-run?

First off, let’s talk fit and form: I particularly loved how easy these socks were to get on; I’ve never liked breaking a sweat trying to wrestle myself into my compression gear before, but now ain’t nobody got time for that with a growing belly getting in the way. And an added perk is that Legend’s socks are nice and long; one of my pet peeves are knee-high socks that don’t come up to the knee..and these will accommodate even the leggiest of runners.

As for function, I tested them out on several runs ranging from three to six miles, and they passed my tests with flying colors. Not only were they comfortable and supportive without being overly restrictive, but they also were thick enough to feel substantial while remaining breathable. Honestly, I was having so much fun plodding along each time (gotta love fall running!) that I forgot I had ’em on, which is always the mark of great gear.

The only downsides? Well, besides the fact that they’re only available in a few colors (you can tell from the pics that subtlety is not my strong point when it comes to workout wear...but I’ll give the brand a break because they’re new and growing), they’re a bit of an investment ($49.99), yet pretty comparable to what else is out there.

But before you balk at the piece, remember that these socks are for more than just running; I always wear a pair when flying and love to lounge around in them on off days, plus I know they’ll also come in handy when combating pregnancy “cankles.” So when you factor cost-per-use, they’re not as outrageous as you’d think!

For more info on Legend’s compression wear, visit the company’s website here.

To compress or not to compress, that is the question… Do you think it’s a trend or do you use it as a training staple?

Give Your Body a Natural Tune-Up with Turmeric

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Growing up, I remember my mom always experimenting with one superfood or another. Whether it was flaxseed, papaya pills, pomegranate seeds, blueberries, wheat germ, spinach, dark chocolate or garlic — you name it, we tried it in the name of achieving optimal health.

So it should probably come as no surprise that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. As much as I like to “eat the rainbow” and get an array of nutrients and vitamins through my diet, I’m not opposed to giving Mother Nature a little leg up every now and then with whatever natural remedy is all the rage.

This is why turmeric is the latest supplement to pique my interest. Well, more specifically, curcumin — the antioxidant found in turmeric.

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Used for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb in China and India, turmeric is a distant relative of ginger. Not only does it give curry and mustard their bold yellow colors, but it’s been long used to support healthy digestion, promote cardiovascular health and support the immune system.*

Usually, I take daily turmeric supplements in pill form to ensure consistent consumption, and I was in the process of mulling over a post on the topic when Gaia Herbs reached out and asked if I’d like to try their new TurmericBoost products as an alternative. Um, yes!

I say “alternative” because instead of a pill it’s a powdered mix that’s flavored with vanilla and chai spices with no added sugar or flavorings. It comes in two varieties, Restore and Uplift, both of which contain concentrated turmeric extract to support a healthy inflammatory response with black pepper to aid in absorption, along with a prebiotic blend to support intestinal flora.*

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I’m not gonna lie, I was a little worried about mixing the turmeric directly into food; especially because it has a powerful smell. But I knew there was one way to test it for sure — in one of my now-infamous shower smoothies post-ride this past weekend.

So here’s what I whipped up, using my immersion blender:

  • 1 frozen banana, quartered
  • 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
  • 10 ounces unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tsp Gaia Herbs TurmericBoost: Restore

Simply blend all ingredients until smoothie reaches your desired consistency. Prepare with a handful of ice cubes if you like it thicker and colder. Pour into a glass, and enjoy!

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With a warm, bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of ginger, the turmeric blended seamlessly into my smoothie. In fact, with the addition of the vanilla and chai spices, it reminded both Ben and I of one of our favorite holiday drinks: eggnog.

This one went over so well in the husband taste test that I’m excited to try Gaia’s other turmeric recipes here. The Pumpkin Chia Pudding and Overnight Oats look especially interesting because I’m always looking for healthy, grab-and-go breakfasts after my morning workouts.

Now, the disclaimer: Always be sure to check with your doctor before you start mixing herbs and medicines so you don’t experience any adverse side effects.

Turmeric is known for being potent and playing well with others, so it might be something worth looking into if you’re searching for a more natural way to support your health and facilitate recovery.* Here’s a handy guide (below) with some additional information on turmeric’s health benefits, side effects and cautions if you’re interested in learning more.

Totally Turmeric: Your Complete Guide to Turmeric
“Totally Turmeric” on Health Perch

Why Gaia Herbs, in particular? Well, just as I like to shop at local farmer’s markets so I know where my produce comes from, I like the same level of detail when it comes to herbal supplements.

Every product manufactured by Gaia has a “Meet Your Herbs” number printed on the label, which allows you to trace every aspect of the product ingredients. This includes where the plants were grown, production methods, laboratory test results of safety and purity, along with information about scientific research and traditional use of herbs.

If you’re like me and are conscious about what you put into your body, that kind of transparency is much appreciated.

**Enter to WIN** Gaia wants to know how you ‪#‎livelifebrighter‬: Show how TurmericBoost helps you live a brighter life for a chance to win the ultimate smoothie pack + tons of healthy weekly prizes. Click here for details and to enter!

Do you ‘spice’ up your recovery process with supplements? 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Disclosure: I received samples of Turmeric Boost and received additional compensation from Gaia Herbs for testing their product, but all opinions are my own.