What kind of oats should you eat?

Are you confused about which kind of oatmeal or oats to buy? It might surprise you to learn that a faster cooking time doesn't necessarily mean a healthier choice.

I encourage you to avoid "quick oats" that contain added sugar and/or salt. Otherwise, choose the oats that you enjoy the most based on texture and cooking time.

Here are the numbers:

Screen shot 2010-07-28 at 4.15.58 PM.png

Why I tri

Why do I do triathlons?
Before my debut into the world of being a mom and before I was married, I was an intensely independent person. I’ve always been an unlikely mix of “type A” and “artsy”. I wouldn't call myself an artist, but I do have a creative side that insists on having an outlet to keep my chi flowing. I am constantly exploring new things and that feeds my brain and my soul. My finding a love for triathlons is something that I would define as a part of my evolution of thriving.

After having my first child in 2006, I returned to my full-time corporate job and the ready-set-go routine of our two-income family. We put our son in the best daycare that we could find and commuted to the jobs that were our necessary reality at the time. Work and our crazy schedule left me mentally exhausted.

Our second child was born in 2008 and, after being home with him for several months, I returned to work part-time. After a month of attempting to exist in our old routine, I had reached my limit. My husband and I agreed that the best thing for our family was for me to exit the corporate world, at least for a while. I, a successful, independent corporate person, became a stay-at-home-mom.

IMG_0293.JPG

My story is definitely not unique, however, many stories like mine end with “happily ever after”. But what happens next? How do us independent corporate types adjust to never being alone? How do we maintain our connection to who we are and feed our minds, bodies, and souls with extremely limited free time? For me, it is through movement.

Finding my "new normal"

When I first started living the full-time mom life, I was so scattered. I was late everywhere that I went. I got lost in a town that I’d lived in for five years. I stressed out over everything and couldn’t seem to summons my inner logical person. It is amazing how entrenched we can get in our routines. Drastically changing mine really shook loose all of my tools for punctuality and, frankly, clear-thinking.

Within a week of leaving my job, I noticed an ad on a car window for a local bootcamp for women (Mama Bootcamp). I immediately looked up the website on my iPhone and, when I saw that the coach also offered triathlon training, I knew that I’d be giving her a call. I had wanted to complete a triathlon for a while and I desperately needed to begin establishing my "new normal" to satisfy my control-freaky "type A" side. I remember thinking, "this is the beginning of something for me." Isn't it funny how, when you take off the blinders that are created by existing in a routine that has become numbingly automatic, you find exactly what you need?

Signing up for bootcamp and triathlon training did, indeed, turn out to be a beginning for me. As I was adjusting to life away from my cubicle, I was meeting new local moms and losing baby weight while working on completing my triathlon goal. I was surprised to find that, even though I originally wanted to do a triathlon because I craved the sense of accomplishment from completing something difficult, I loved the training and the races. I actually had fun swimming in murky lakes and running in 100+ degree heat! More than that, though, I was learning to construct my life and routine in a way that I'd never thought was possible for me. I had always known that being successful at my goals meant that I had to work hard. What I have learned through this experience is that the hard work can also be fulfilling along the way if I am working hard on something that is congruent with my values and goals and passions. I also feel like I have found "my people" with the amazing group of women that I have met. Not only have I adjusted to my new life but I have also learned so much about being part of a team- a triathlon training team or a family who's members work together to support each other in their pursuits. This, along with treasured time with my boys, is my new normal. In every facet of my life, I am so blessed.

What about you?
Have you thought about adding movement to your life or shaking up your current fitness routine with a completely new goal? What if, instead of just losing weight and fitting in to smaller clothes, your goals for exercise were to feel good and have fun? What activities would you choose to meet those new goals?

Reusable straws

Until recently we were going through a lot of plastic drinking straws at our house. My four-year-old is going through an "I-can't-possibly-drink-this-withought-a-straw" phase, so we bought a bag of cheap and brightly colored straws to help keep the boy hydrated until this blows over.

I had seen other bloggers mention their reusable straws and I was intrigued. I don't like using plastic or the idea of disposable things, so I decided to give these stainless steel straws a try.


IMG_3697.JPG

Success! The boy likes them and Mommy and Daddy do too! If you're a straw-using household, I recommend these!

Blackberry orange muffins (vegan)

You may have already figured out that I have a bit of a love affair with muffins after my gushing over my "Best banana muffins in the history of all banana muffins". I will admit, though, that I'm a muffin snob- it has to be low fat, vegan, lower in sugar, contain a bit of protein, and taste great. This doesn't happen often, people! That being said, though, it happened for me this week with these blackberry orange muffins. These are amazing!

IMG_3693.JPG


IMG_3669.JPG

Blackberry Orange Muffins
Makes 9-10 muffins

1 cup flour (preferably whole wheat or spelt)
1 cup ground oats (grind in food processor or VitaMix until they look like course flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup fresh blackberries, halved
1 Tbsp orange zest
2 Tbsp hemp seeds (for protein and extra iron)
1/4 cup unrefined sugar (organic sugar)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp canola oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375〫F (190〫C) degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and ground oats. Sift in the baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, then stir in remaining dry ingredients and combine well.
  3. In another bowl, combine applesauce, soy milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and oil.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix gently until just combined (do not overmix). Spoon into a lined or lightly oiled muffin pan and bake for 19-24 minutes (mine took 19), until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Recipe adapted and published with permission from Dreena Burton's "As-You-Like Muffins" from The Everyday Vegan.


Super fast "overnight oats"

I have been dying to try the "Vegan Overnight Oats" that I've been reading about in Angela's Oh She Glows blog for a long time. I finally mixed up a batch on Wednesday night and they were fantastic! Breakfast can't get any faster than this!

My version of OSG Vegan Overnight Oats:
Makes 1 serving
1/2 very ripe banana
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2-1 scoop Garden of Life Raw Protein
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Mash the banana well. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk like crazy, and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. In the morning I added 1 tsp maca powder and 2 Tbsp peanut butter. Feel free to embellish your oats with whatever you like!

Protein powders and meal replacements

I use protein powder in smoothies, pancakes, muffins and baked goods, and in a few other ways. It seems like there are a million product choices out there so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. I do not use powders that contain whey (I'm 99% vegan it isn't) or soy (I prefer to get my protein from other sources when possible and it can irritate my stomach in large doses). I choose products that are natural and I avoid overly processed or artificial ingredients.

Here are the products that I like:

Vega:
Smoothie Infusion: Great in smoothies or for adding to baked goods and pancakes (replace up to 1/3 of the flour in a recipe). Not sweetened.




Shake & Go Smoothie: Great as-is or added to a smoothie. Contains Stevia and is sweet. I've only tried the Tropical and Berry flavors.




Whole Food Health Optimizer: This is a meal replacement. It is ok as-is but better added to a smoothie. It is sweetened with Stevia. It is expensive but contains tons of good stuff! You can use 1/2 a serving in a smoothie to keep the calories and cost down. I prefer the Natural or Berry flavors.




Sport Performance Protein: This is an excellent recovery drink because it contains all of the essential amino acids which helps with muscle recovery. I like it added to a smoothie but you can drink it as-is. It is sweetened with Stevia.



Garden of Life:
Raw Protein: This is good for adding to smoothies. It has very little flavor and blends well. It is raw, vegan, organic, and loaded with good stuff!

Vegan tempeh quesadilla

I just had the best lunch that I've had in awhile! I was rummaging around in the fridge trying to use up a few things and came up with this awesome quesadilla!

IMG_3621.JPG

Vegan tempeh quesadilla
Serves 2
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil plus more for tortillas
Fresh cracked pepper
Sea salt to taste
1/2 block of tempeh, finely chopped (for extra protein and iron)
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I used the purple basil from my CSA)
Vegan cheese, grated
2 whole wheat tortillas
  1. Combine the tomato and basil and set aside.
  2. Add the olive oil and some fresh cracked pepper to a skillet then turn heat to medium. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic. When the onion starts to brown, add the tempeh and sea salt. Cook until tempeh is lightly browned.
  3. For each quesadilla, sprinkle cheese on one half then top with tempeh and tomato mixtures and a little more cheese to glue it all together. Fold in half and lightly brush or spray the outside of the tortilla with olive oil. Cook over medium heat, turning once, until browned on both sides then cut into triangles and serve.

Green smoothie recipes

I have posted a couple of smoothie recipes including my "Beginner's Green Smoothie" here in the past. Because I have a smoothie for breakfast almost every day in the summer, I get bored of the same old recipes pretty quickly. I imagine that you do too!

So, here are a couple of resources for you:

Website: Angela from Oh She Glows created the Green Monster Movement site that, among other super helpful things, provides a ton of green smoothie recipes. Check it out!

Book: Victoria Boutenko's Green Smoothie Revolution is an excellent resource for recipes as well:



Happy blending!

The new Gatorade G2 Natural

I recently learned that Gatorade has a new Natural product that no longer contains HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) or artificial colors. I'm so happy about this! I use sports drinks on occasion- usually on heavy training days, during races, or when I'm training in extreme heat.

The generous folks at the Gatorade company sent me a couple of samples of the new Gatorade Natural products to try and I like them! The flavor is good (the low calorie version is a little too sweet for me so I preferred the regular) and they don't give me the bloated feeling that I can sometimes get when I eat or drink things that contain HFCS.

What I especially like about Gatorade is the massive amount of research done by their Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI). These people know hydration!

Right now Gatorade Natural is only available at Whole Foods Markets in select cities (see the website for locations). If you can get your hands on some, give it a try!


(Image from Gatorade.com)

I heart Dr. Bronner's!

I am not the type to put on makeup just to check the mail, however, I do enjoy my fair share of girly-girliness on occasion. I don't spend a fortune on any single product unless I'm totally and utterly in love with it. Usually, I seek out simple and natural products and steer clear of anything with a paragraph of unpronounceable ingredients. I am always on the hunt for simple and effective things, so I wanted to share this one with you!

I have been using Dr. Bronner's bar soap and liquid castile soap for a long time and I think they are fantastic. They clean well (for more than just skin!), are made of non-toxic ingredients, and are very affordable. Recently I discovered a new Dr. Bronner's product that I'm now totally in love with- the shaving gel. Seriously people, my legs have never been this smooth! This product can be used by men or women.

   IMG_3584.JPG

Raw "pasta"

A while back I wrote about a raw chili that I had enjoyed for dinner. Since I loved the "nut meat" portion of the meal so much, I created a raw "pasta" meal using similar ingredients. Instead of noodles, I used a potato peeler to cut raw zucchini into ribbons. I topped the zucchini with a raw tomato sauce and some "nut meat".

IMG_3542.JPG


Raw Tomato Sauce
3 large tomatoes
2 shallots, peeled
Handful fresh basil leaves
1 cup re-hydrated sun dried tomatoes (soaked in warm water for about 20 min.)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves
1-2 tablespoons agave nectar
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Italian "Nut Meat"
1 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful of fresh basil
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1-2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes (soaked if dry)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process into small pieces.

A good excuse to eat (healthy) cookies!

I completed my third (second this year) sprint distance triathlon (.5 mile swim/16 mile bike/5k run) on Saturday morning. I didn't break any records, but I finished and didn't pass out or throw up. Considering the unrelenting sun and hilly trail during the run portion of the race, I consider all of those to be accomplishments!

I did a pretty good job of "carb loading"- I had pasta the night before and a whole grain english muffin and some dates a couple of hours before the race. As usual I also drank coconut water and green tea with my breakfast and while driving to the event. The caffeine in the tea helps to wake up my brain and body and the coconut water contains natural electrolytes (more potassium than a banana!) and sugar.

My swim felt pretty strong and I exited the water after about 20 minutes and headed to transition to cycling. My plan was to drink sports drink mixed with water on the first half of the bike (I avoid drinking in the second half so I won't have a "sloshy" tummy when I'm running later). But, I got really caught up in maintaining my pace and didn't drink like I should have. By the time I got to the run, I was thirsty and needed a little bit of fuel. Instead of sports drink, I grabbed plain water and a chocolate Clif Shot and headed out. I paced relatively well during the first half of the run but ran out of gas in the second half. I sipped water and tried to get the Clif Shot down but the chocolate flavor was just too ick at the time.

All things considered, I did alright. I finished only two minutes slower than my best time for the race. Afterwards, though, I was so tired! I took a small nap that afternoon and, even though napping is extremely rare for me, I took a nap the following afternoon as well. I have been in full recovery mode, eating whole grains and fruits and veggies, hydrating like crazy, and resting. I made a batch of Super-Charge Me! cookies from Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan cookbook and they are DELICIOUS! My kids like them too. I think I'm going to be "recovering" for as long as possible so I can keep eating these!

I highly recommend Dreena's cookbooks:

    

emmett cooper vegan haircare


I recently received samples* of some emmett cooper HAIRCARE products and I have to tell you about them because I think they're fabulous! emmett cooper products are vegan, cruelty free, and made with 80% organic ingredients.

I am using the stabilize wash shampoo:


From the emmett cooper website:
stabilize wash offers strong protection to extend the life and vibrancy of hair color. infused with corn,sesame and soy-bean oil,along with uv filters to lock down the cuticle, it leaves chemically altered hair smooth, manageable, and radiant.- safe for chemically treated hair.gentle enough for daily use.-follow with appropriate conditioner.

I am also using the hydration rinse conditioner:



From the emmett cooper website:
hydration rinse is formulated to infuse each strand with natural emollients and vitamins of marigold, sage, cranesbill, yarrow and panthenol. helps restore proper balance to all hair types-leaving hair healthy and shiny without weighing it down. suitable for all hair types.

Both of these products smell great (which, let's face it, is one of the most important things to know, right?) and leave my naturally curly hair smooth and moisturized but not greasy- squeaky clean! My current obsession is a hot shower after a hard evening of triathlon training using the emmett cooper shampoo and conditioner- I feel so completely fantastic after a butt-kicking workout and a shower that leaves my hair smelling so darn good. It's the little things in life that keep me going!

**********
*Disclaimer: I am not receiving payment of any kind to review these products. I did receive samples to keep for my review purposes.

My garden

Do you have a vegetable garden at home? I often fantasize about living in a place where I can have a large garden. In this fantasy I also have time to work in said garden, of course! For now, though, I have a single raised bed in my suburban backyard.

ladybugs0009.JPG
(My garden from a few years ago.)

I seem to get carried away when I buy seeds each year and always overshoot what my little box can hold. This year I started my seeds indoors and transferred the new little plants to the garden after the last frost date had passed. I went out of town shortly after planting and was sad to find that the birds had taken everything when I got home from vacation! So frustrating! I had to re-plant everything, so my plants are a little behind. Sigh.

My garden is more of a hobby than a functional food source at the moment. Eventually I'd like to plant with the seasons and make it more useful for us. A few years ago I read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life and was really inspired. If you haven't read the book but are interested in learning more about the idea of eating close to home, growing your own food, or become a "locavore", I highly recommend the book. It is more of a memoir than a "how to" and I found it really interesting and inspirational!

Running playlist

I created a new running playlist for my iPod a few days ago and, because I mentioned it on Facebook, I was asked by some curious friends what was on my list. This makes me laugh because, I'll confess, my running music isn't always music that I'd admit to listening to under normal circumstances. I've been known to run right on past my goal distance because I've gotten caught up in a song that I would never even admit to owning. Ha!


So, that being said, here is my current running playlist minus the less...ahem...cringeworthy songs!











Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones


Bodhichitta Botanicals

Whew, is it Friday yet? This has been a bit of a crazy week for me, although I'm not sure exactly why. I guess I just have more loose ends to keep track of than usual. Also I had another tough workout at tri training on Tuesday night (I love those!) and came home tired, hungry, and in big-time need of a shower.

Once I filled my tummy and took a shower, I remembered that I had a few lotion samples from Bodhichitta Botanicals that I picked up at a Whole Foods Market local vender fair over the weekend. These lotions are cruelty free and don't contain any icky, un-pronounceable ingredients (strict vegans: some products do contain beeswax). I decided to try the "Sacred Temple" fragrance first and, while the "Nurture the Goddess" is my favorite, "Sacred Temple" is a-m-a-z-i-n-g (so are the other scents)! "Sacred Temple" smells mostly like cardamom and I found it to be super moisturizing but not greasy. The comforting fragrance was the perfect accompaniment to my pajamas and a cup of tea.

lotion.png gel.pngbalm.png bubbles.png

I am so looking forward to trying more products from this company and I so happy to have found them!