Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Making (Vegan) Banana (Quinoa) Pancakes.....

Since I have been writing about my exercise activities so much lately, I figured it was high time that I bring in another recipe. That, and I keep having to re-do the math every time I want to make these pancakes because I haven’t written the recipe down!

I came across this recipe when looking for a banana quinoa pancake. Out of the entirety of the internet, I could not find such a recipe. And that is how these wonderful, healthy, delicious pancakes came to be.

These pancakes are vegan and oh so filling. I usually top them with peanut butter and syrup and eat with fresh fruit and nuts before a long run. A breakfast such as this leaves me feeling full and satisfied for hours on end. It is especially great to have before a long workout, I never feel weak after a plate of these!

Banana Quinoa Pancakes (vegan)

1.5 T chia seeds
4.5 T water
1 c cooked quinoa
¾ c whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
¼ c + 2 T soymilk
3 T mashed banana

Optional mix-ins: fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.

1)      Start by combining the chia seeds and water in a small dish. Whisk together and allow to sit until the mixture has a gooey consistency (5-10 minutes). At this point you will also mash the banana in a small bowl – the riper, the better.

2)      In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together chia, banana, and milk until smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk to combine. If you are using any mix-ins inside of the pancakes, fold them in now.

3)      Prepare a skillet on the stovetop, medium heat, and put down some coconut oil. Once the oil is spread throughout the skillet drop 3 T of batter (or more for larger pancakes) down. Allow to cook until firm, then flip to brown the other side.

Makes about 10 medium pancakes.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Westfield Wave Sprint Triathlon Recap

The distances are as follows: .3 mile swim, 13 mile bike, 3 mile run AKA 16.3

This is my third year participating in the Triathlon event, but my first attempt at the Sprint distance. The first two years I completed the Super-Sprint, which takes about 45 minutes, and I won first in my age group both times. The Sprint distance, well, it’s not just for beginners – and the competition was a little intimidating!

I feel like this pictures aptly displays my emotions before the race….I did not arrive super early so it was tough finding space to rack my bike, people around me were upset with one another over layouts, and a good deal of the Sprint athletes were either on their bikes or in the water before the race! All I could think was, what did I get myself into, and there is no way I am getting first place today.

Once leaving the transition area my anxiety subsided as we gathered on the beach in anticipation of the start. I had Tim take one last picture, griped about all the wetsuits one last time, and then lined up with the other pink caps and waited for the men to jump in.

SWIM: I have been regularly swimming 1,000 yds once a week, so this was just over half that distance. Of course my swim takes place in a pool, alone in my lane, so this is a tad bit different. I started off too early and there were way too many people, so I turned to the breast stroke to ward off the adrenaline surge and get out of the way of the serious swimmers. Once my heart rate went down I transitioned into freestyle and found that I could NOT put my face in pond water….oy. I maintained some silly head out of water freestyle approach to swimming, sighted well, and had to sprint to pass others (that’s a new skill I picked up) before arriving on land. My swim + the run up the beach to T1 was 11:27 …. Not too shabby.

T1 + BIKE: A new item I brought with me to this race was my padded spandex bike shorts. Do you know how hard these things are to get on when wet? Alas, I CANNOT ride this bike without them, so I did a little dance before preparing everything else then went off. Yoga served me well in regards to balance & flexibility in these tight quarters and I left T1 after 1:29.

Once on the bike I realized that this may be my new favorite sport. I managed 16 mph throughout the course, which is awesome for me, but man…I will never understand how people maintain 20+ mph. Spinning did help me when I needed to sprint, which felt like too often, but I’m glad to have that capability. I choked down half a Kind bar but couldn’t stomach much with all that movement. There was a woman who I kept my eye on, I noticed she was 31, and I told myself I better keep up with her. I get distracted while biking and knew I needed someone to keep me in line to maintain my speed. It worked! The race was two laps of nice country-ish roads and I completed the 13 miles in 47:46.

T2 + RUN: Another step I added was to change my shoes in this transition. I wear my indoor soccer shoes when biking because they lack cushioning, which equals efficiency on the bike. I started my brick workouts wearing the same shoes for running but got a wicked callous on my heel and my tired legs were missing the cushion. The change of shoes was easy and my T2 time was only :59 so I think that’s pretty good!

And then the run…..oh boy. I felt like I was draggin’ and there was no pick me up on its way. I just started laughing at myself because I felt so slow and helpless about it! By the time the first mile marker showed up I was feeling a little better, but I really felt a difference at the turn around (1.5 mi). It was about this time I was wondering what that bike woman was up to and sure enough, she appeared beside me! We maintained a good pace side by side for the rest of the race and man was I thankful for that. The final kick is on the beach (killer) and I found some energy to sprint it in for a 1:27:38 finish, with my friendly competitor just a second behind. I guess I should mention that run was at an 8:40 pace AKA my last 5K. WHAT? Adrenaline leads to some remarkable feats.

OVERALL: I won 3rd place in my age group (F 20-24) and was ecstatic to see that! There were more younger competitive triathletes this year, more than there have been in years past. It’s awesome to see more young people coming up but also intimidating. To put it in perspective – if I completed in this race last year, I would have gotten first place for all women under 30 by a whole two minutes. That is a crazy improvement in the field of competitors!

My goal was anywhere from 1:30 to 1:45 – with 1:40 being my “safe” zone. So I cannot express how happy I was to cross the finish under 1:30. I rarely exceed my own expectations in the physical world and it was such a treat to do so! Most importantly: I had a BLAST at this race and cannot wait for next year! The feeling of doing all three sports in one day, pushing the mental crap out of the way, and persevering to do something you didn’t think is possible…WOW. I recommend everybody try it.

Up next: Quaboag Plantation Triathlon on July 6th

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Perfect Picnic Recipe

After much ado, I have decided to post this recipe on the blog. I really do not think of it as a recipe, but this salad has been a HUGE hit at events lately so I wanted to share it with you all!

I love all things “greek” – pizza, wraps, salads, kabobs, etc. There’s just something about the combination of flavors that catches my eye (stomach?) every time. To turn this craving into a food that is picnic worthy I decided to make a cold salad.

Introducing: Greek Wheat Berry Salad with Extra Veggies

Sorry for the poor photo quality, this was the last of the bowl…it goes so fast I can’t even capture it!

I suggest throwing this salad together the night before you eat, to allow the flavors to really soak in. 

1 c dry wheat berries
1 lg cucumber
5 radishes
½ red onion
½ bunch asparagus
1 can black olives
4 oz feta (regular or tofu)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste


Start a couple days ahead of time by soaking your berries. I sprouted the berries for the first couple of salads because it was a fun experiment. Soaking allows them to soften up, makes them easier to digest, and cuts down on cooking time. If you’re in a rush, a 6-8 hour soak works just fine.

None of this process is all that regimented, to start the process, I throw the wheat berries in a pot with fresh water, boil, then simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Not too scientific – when they are squishy & pop in your mouth, they are done.

While the grain is cooking, chop up all of the vegetables except asparagus and throw into a large bowl.  I eyeball at this point to check how much color there is, if I’m lacking in one department, and may even check to see if there are other vegetables in the fridge I could toss in. Broccoli and tomatoes would be tasty as they come into season!

I love blanched asparagus, which is what I did with this recipe. It does not take up much time as all you need is a pot of boiling water, a pot of ice cold water, and about 10 seconds total. Once I'm finished chopping the veggies I quickly throw the asparagus in, chill it, then chop and toss into the bowl.

The wheat berries should be cooked at this time, and you can drain and rinse them with cold water to cool them down. Then pour the grain into the veggies and shake it up. Now you can add feta, olive oil, balsamic, and oregano on top. I truly just got by looks at this point – and it depends on my mood and how flavorful I want it to be. If you want a vegan salad, skip the feta or make tofu feta. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top, shake up, and refrigerate overnight.

The end result is a salad so refreshing and satisfying, it will be gone before you know it!