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! 
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‘Boning Up’ on the Bone Broth Trend (+ DIY Recipe)

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“We are indeed much more than we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” – Adele Davis

If you’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about bone broth recently, you’re not alone. But what exactly is the difference between stock, broth, consomme, and bouillon? And why are people raving over bone broth, in particular, for its healing and nourishing benefits?

With those questions in mind, I popped into the ZOOM+Performance lab last week to learn more from the first of their lunchtime classes. Local expert Tressa Yellig from Salt, Fire & Time was on hand to educate us about this savory elixir and how she believes it’s one of the simplest and most powerful food remedies you can have at your disposal.

According to Yellig, bone broth stands head and shoulders above other stock-type liquids because it’s cooked for a long time (up to three days) over a low heat (roughly 180 degrees) in order to extract all the good stuff — gelatin, nutrients and minerals — from bones.

So what else makes bone broth so special? Well,  for starters it’s rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, silicon, phosphorous, sulphur and other trace minerals, meaning it’s nutrient-dense. Plus, it contains a host of other unique and powerful substances, including marrow, cartilage, glycine, proline, collagen and gelatin, which are thought to help support the immune system, reduce inflammation and promote healing.

What I found most interesting, however, is when Yellig talked about bone broth also being a “protein sparer,” which means that it helps create adequate nutrition in the short-term absence of protein (read: when you’re sick and the last thing you feel like eating is a hunk of meat). Not to mention it hits the spot on these cold and dreary Portland winter days…

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Bone broth can be enjoyed as it is (with a little salt to enhance the flavor). Yellig also suggested experimenting with it as a base for soups, stews, sauces, gravy, cooking grains, vegetables, savory baked goods or with beans.

It’s pretty simple to make, so if you’ve got the time or inclination she shared this recipe to help you get your bone broth on at home:

Basic Bone Broth

(courtesy of Salt, Fire & Time)

Ingredients: 

  • About 1 pound of mixed bones per quart of purified water
  • Splash of vinegar (cider, red or white wine, rice or lemon juice)
  • Vegetables and herbs for flavor (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Place bones in a medium to large stock pot and add water to cover.
  2. Mix in the splash of vinegar and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour. Note: If there’s a lot of meat on the bones, roast them first for flavor. 
  3. Bring the pot up to a gentle simmer (about 180 degrees) and allow to continue for 8-72 hours
  4. Add the vegetables and herbs in the middle of your cooking time.
  5. Strain out he bones, vegetables and herbs, and allow to cool.
  6. Package in glass containers for refrigerator storage (2 weeks) or plastic freezer bags or ice trays for freezer storage (3 months).

Or if the prospect of babysitting a simmering pot on the stove for a few days is too daunting, you can always swing by Yellig’s Broth Bar here in Portland. She offers a bunch of condiments, stir-ins and add-ons to customize each steaming cup to your liking.

Not local? You’re in luck. Salt, Fire & Time also has an online shop that ships all kinds of delicious goodies ’round the country.

Are you on the bone broth bandwagon? Why or why not?

Fave Fix: Energems Chocolate Energy

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Normally I’m not a huge proponent of energy supplements. No judgment; I just prefer to go about things the old fashioned way to try to keep my energy levels steady throughout the day — e.g. healthy eating, ample sleep and regular exercise.

But…

I’m not so rigid that I’m opposed to an afternoon pick-me-up (usually in the form of caffeine) on those rare days where I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open around 3 pm. I’m also not opposed to the occasional treat, which is usually in the form of chocolate.

Energy Drinks

So when I caught wind of Energems, which combines dark chocolate with Vitamins B and D, plus a “clean” energy boost from caffeine, my ears perked up. I’ve used caffeine-enhanced gels and chews with success during races, so why not see if something similar can help me handle a sweet craving and manage the dreaded afternoon slump?

But first things first: I draw the line at putting random chemicals in my body, so I was interested to see if the nutritional information stacked up against the product’s claims. And in case you’re wondering (like I was), L-Theanine is a chemical derived from tea leaves and mushrooms; it’s meant to promote a relaxing effect, which keeps any caffeine-related jitters at bay.

Note: There’s not much information regarding its safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation, plus I’m trying to limit my caffeine and sugar intake right now, so I only tested one Energem at a time. Luckily, Ben was happy to help play guinea pig for the full dose!

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The amount of caffeine in one serving is equivalent to a large cup of coffee. But I like that you can customize the amount with one, two or three Energems to get only the boost you want, nothing more.

Why the vitamins, though? Well, B vitamins help support physical energy, and vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” because it’s supposed to help support a healthy mental state. That’s especially helpful during the dreary winters here in the Pacific Northwest!

As far as taste goes, while Energems aren’t candy, they reminded me a bit of your typical coated chocolate treats. And the flavors are great — Dark Chocolate is for purists, Mint Dark Chocolate is refreshing without overpowering, and Berry-Flavored Dark Chocolate tasted nice and natural.

Since I only took one of each flavor at a time, I didn’t experience as much of an energy boost, although I did enjoy the fact that I could get a sweet treat with the addition of some helpful antioxidants and vitamins. Ben, on the other hand, took a full dose each time and reported good results — he wasn’t bouncing off the walls by any means, but liked the flavors and the feeling of alertness.

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I don’t intend to use Energems regularly because I usually get my daily dose of caffeine with my morning coffee and I happen to think that the best way to combat fatigue in the long-run is to move more, eat well and rest properly. But I’ll be putting a bottle in my purse for when I’m on-the-go and want a quick pick-me-up that’s both convenient and will hopefully prevent me from making poor choices out of fatigue (like swinging through the drive-through for a milkshake!).

It’s also something I may try later at full dose post-pregnancy for shorter events, like 5ks and 10ks, when I want a smooth burst of energy without a crash. I’m not sure how practical they are for during the event (stuffing a baggie of them down my sports bra is a likely a no-no due to the melt factor), but they’re a lot more convenient than a cup of coffee at the start line!

How do you handle those occasional afternoon energy slumps? Would you try a healthier alternative to energy drinks for a mid-day pick-me-up?

Disclaimer: I received complementary product to try. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Kinetic Fix!

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.

Turmeric Root

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.

Recipe: Baobab Recovery Smoothie

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After spending too many hours passed out on the couch after long runs, I finally perfected a formula for being able to salvage afternoons after intense training sessions:

Hot shower + Smoothie (*consumed in shower) = Ticket to feeling like a million bucks

And the more nutrient-dense the smoothie the better, so my body can start repairing itself as I go about my day.

Which is where Baobab comes in: I just heard of this most “super” of the superfruits recently and decided to give it a whirl after learning about its almost-too-good-to-believe benefits…

  • More antioxidants than any other superfruit, even acai, blueberries and pomegranate
  • High soluble fiber content (50% by weight)
  • A raw, whole, organic food
  • Ethically and sustainably harvested, even helping impoverished African communities
  • The planet’s highest plant source of calcium
  • More iron, potassium and magnesium than most other superfoods
  • Six times the Vitamin C of oranges
  • Rich in electrolytes and has a very high bioavailability
  • Contains no fillers or added sugar, sodium or preservatives

With a sweet, tangy and pear-like flavor profile, it’s an ideal addition to recovery smoothies to help boost your immune system, minimize inflammation and enhance digestion after tough workouts.

I think it’d work best for enhancing the flavor of berry-based smoothies, but I put it to the test in my standard peanut-butter-and-banana protein shake and was pleasantly surprised by the light taste and slight tang.

It did the trick post-run, but it’s also an excellent option for a quick grab-and-go breakfast!

Baobab Recovery Smoothie

Ingredients: 

Directions:

  1. Add first six ingredients to blender, and blend until desired consistency.
  2. Top with sprinkle of granola. Relax, sit back, and enjoy!

Fun fact: Since Baobab has a high pectin content (around 25%), it offers the benefit of being a natural thickening and binding agent for a nice, rich texture in recovery shakes.

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Harvesting baobab provides a cash crop for women in southern Africa and encourages protection of ancient Baobab trees, so it’s an ingredient you can actually feel good about using.

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Plus, the flavor’s also light enough where it’ll blend in seamlessly with pretty much anything — from smoothies and other drinks to oatmeal, baked goods, yogurt and sauces. Cheers to that!

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Got any other good tricks for post-workout recovery?

8 Tips for Ditching Runner’s Trots for Good

To quote that infamous childhood book, “All living things eat, so everyone poops.”

True enough, especially if you’re a runner. And if that’s the case, there’s a good chance you know this all too well, having likely discussed it extensively with a handful of close runner friends.

The Diarrhea Dilemma

While we like to think our workouts are accompanied solely by philosophical conversations, some inevitably spiral into war stories about bodily functions. But as prevalent as these intestinal issues (aka “Runner’s Trots) may be, it’s a topic that’s not addressed in all circles.

So what’s a trot-troubled runner to do?

Well, first, realize that you’re not alone — more than half of us have experienced exercise-related GI disturbances. And, second, there’s a lot you can do to prevent (best-case) and handle (worst-case) it. But it also helps to understand exactly what’s happening so you can make an informed plan of attack.

Desperately Seeking…A Restroom

According to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, “there are three main causes of GI symptoms: physiological (reduced blood flow to the gut), mechanical (bouncing effect of running, for example) or nutritional.”

As you exercise, the body diverts blood flow away from internal organs to support working muscles and cool the surface of your skin. Combine that with intestinal “jostling” and heavy/fatty/fiber-filled/sugary foods, and you’ve quite literally got a ticking time bomb in your gut.

Avoiding The Runs on Your Runs

Don’t want to make “that” emergency call during a long training run or veer off-course for a mid-race porta-potty pit stop? The former used to happen to me frequently, and the latter got me at mile 16 of the 2002 Chicago Marathon…sans TP; ’nuff said. 

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Here are my eight tried-and-true tips for taming those tummy troubles for good.

1. Develop a pre-run routine. Develop a system (mine’s coffee) to “get things moving” before you head out the door, and you’ll drastically decrease your chances of a mid-run meltdown.

2. Hydrate before, during and after. Dehydration compounds stress on the GI tract, so be kind to your colon and it may just return the favor.

3. Avoid common triggers. Things like NSAIDs, ibuprofen, sugar and fiber are known to irritate or stimulate your intestines, so refrain from ingesting ’em in advance of workouts.

4. Track your habits. Keeping tabs on what you ate and how it affected you during a run can be quite revealing! I know that quinoa, for example, leaves me doubled over…while I can eat potential triggers like dairy, beans, dried fruits, etc. with no issue.

5. Experiment with fuel type. Again, what works for a runner and his/her digestive system can vary from person to person, so take the time during training to see what agrees with you — and what doesn’t.

6. Play with fuel timing. Some people start jogging while chewing their last bite of breakfast, while I prefer to give myself a few minutes to digest before heading out the door. It may take some trial and error to find your rhythm, but it’s well worth the time.

7. Slowly increase intensity. Going too fast or too far too soon can result in GI backlash. Allow your body to acclimate to the stress of speed workouts and long runs by easing in with a warm-up and building a foundation before going all-out.

8. Whip your gut into shape. I consider probiotics my secret weapon for not just gut balance, but also overall health. After experiencing success with them over the past few years (i.e. long runs that bring joy instead of fear), I’ve been taking Sound Probiotics, which came highly recommended from my Coeur pal, Erin, who’s also an accomplished Iron(wo)man.

A little PSA: Sound’s the first probiotic engineered for the competitive athlete.

Why’s this important?

Well, during training you’re more susceptible to illness and fatigue due to the sheer amount and intensity of exercise. And since as much as 80 percent of your immunity resides in your digestive tract, I consider these little pills my insurance policy for optimizing training and recovery.

After an initial adjustment period (very mild bloating), I’ve been thrilled with the results. Not only have I been able to up my mileage without incident, but I’ve also managed to avoid all the nasty bugs circulating this season — which is especially impressive considering my daily ClassPass studio-hopping habit.

That’s a small investment for exponential results. Need more incentive? Use code KINETICFIX for 10% off if you want to try ’em yourself. 

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If all else fails, though, consider stashing some toilet paper and a few wet wipes in your run belt for peace of mind. Plotting routes with public restrooms also helps, but if you’re concerned it might be something more serious, consult with your doctor to check for underlying health issues.

And whatever you do, don’t underestimate the effect that soothing your gut can have your overall experience, let alone performance, during training and racing. After all, as marathon legend Bill Rogers once famously said, “More marathons are won or lost in the portable toilets than at the dinner table.”

How do you prevent those mid-run stomach rumbles? 

4 Tips for Using Caffeine to Help Crank Up Your Workouts

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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?