Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunflower Butter Banana Chocolate Brownies

If you ever took a gander at my This is What I Eat page then you know I'm obsessed with Emily's recipes over at Daily Garnish.  I had THIS recipe bookmarked for a while when I was sitting around Sunday afternoon deciding what to bring to my friends for dinner I looked up the recipe and decided that I had most of the ingredients on hand.  Emily makes being a vegetarian/sometimes even vegan look delicious and these brownies are NO exception.  They are actually vegan for any of my vegan loving friends out there and I'm sure you could make them gluten free with some GF flours. 

I made a couple changes to the recipe based on what I had and the fact that sunflower seed butter makes everything more delicious.  I halved the original recipe and used an 8x8 square pan.

Sunflower Butter Banana Chocolate Brownies

based on: http://www.dailygarnish.com/2011/04/chocolate-chip-banana-brownies.html

Serves: 16 brownies - depending on your friends addictions to sweets that could mean anywhere from 2-16 servings

  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (or whatever milk you have on hand)
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower seed butter (or other nut butter of your choosing)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix together flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt
  3. In another bowl mash the banana and add milk and vanilla
  4. Add wet to dry and stir until just combined
  5. Spread in greased 8x8 pan
  6. Dollop tablespoons of sunflower butter in each corner of pan
  7. Use a knife to swirl butter around to each brownie gets a delicious bite of sunflower seed butter
  8. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean
  9. Remove and let cool for at least 10 minutes or until you can't stand it anymore before cutting and eating.
Dry ingredients

Smash that banana

Dollop the sunflower seed butter

Swirl it around

    I served these to my friends that evening and they both like them.  One friend said it was more like banana bread than a brownie and I think I would partially agree.  They do need to a be little more chocolaty and I'm pretty sure next time I would add the chocolate chips.  My co-workers loved the leftovers the next day and were pleasantly surprised when I told them how relatively healthy they were!

    Check out Daily Garnish for other delicious recipes! I have also made and LOVED Coconut Oil Almond Butter Cookies and White Cheddar Yogurt Cornbread.

    QUESTION: Do you have a go-to sweet treat that you always make or are you like me and just figure out what you have and make something from it?

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Race Recap: Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon

    Saturday was the day of the Seattle Rock and Roll race and it started off bright and early with a 4:15AM wakeup call.  I got dressed, ate breakfast (english muffin with egg on one half and sunflower seed butter on the other) and half a cup of coffee. 5:00AM I was on my way downtown to meet my friends at the Westin hotel to catch the shuttle.  We stood in a shuttle line from 5:30 to a little after 6:00 and arrived at the start around 6:30.  The next 30 minutes were spent checking our gear and standing in the porty potty line.  We missed the official start of the race but since we were pretty far back it didn't matter.  About 7:30 we were OFF!  I wished my friends Kath and Stace well and went on my way trying to maintain a speed in the 9:30/mile range.

    While my dream goal was to run this in under 2 hours I knew after the first 4 miles that was going to happen but I was on track to PR...just as good!

    Mile 1 - 9:26
    Mile 2 - 9:22
    Mile 3 - 9:43
    Mile 4 - 9:22

    The first 4 miles were actually pretty rough.  I never start half marathons off that fast and my lungs were already feeling the speed and I was worried about maintaining it for the whole race. The course is also kind of boring for the first 4 miles taking you through the industrial area of Tukwila and then through neighborhoods.  But I did warm up after 4 miles and the next 4 miles felt pretty good.  I decided to check in with myself and my watch every 4 miles so I didn't stress about my pace from mile to mile...it was a good strategy.

    Mile 5 - 9:39
    Mile 6 - 9:27
    Mile 7 - 9:28
    Mile 8 - 9:26

    Miles 5-9 are along Lake Washington Boulevard with a gorgeous view of Lake Washington for the entire stretch.  There are also a ton of spectators along this stretch which is always great.  At one point they had pictures of soldiers who had died in the middle east and then a ton of soldiers holding American flags...I would be lying if I didn't get choked up running by that...which didn't help my breathing much but I figured at least I have breath and freedom!

    Mile 9 - 9:39
    Mile 10 - 9:11 <---hey speedy...this is where I start thinking "IT'S ALMOST OVER!!"
    Mile 11 - 9:17
    Mile 12 - 9:37
    Mile 13 - 9:07 <---NO IDEA where the energy for this came from because I was feeling very slow!
    Mile 13.1 - 7:53 <---Sprinting to the finish...WOOHOO

    At mile 9 you are in the I-90 express tunnels which sounds fun but it's super humid and very uncomfortable.  Luckily it lasts under a mile and before you know it you are winding your way into downtown...DOWNhill I might add.  You run through downtown with hundreds of spectators and run up a small hill to go on the Highway 99 viaduct to make your way to Qwest Field.  I knew at mile 12 I wouldn't run a sub 2 hour half for sure so I didn't stress about the last mile and just ran for me, it felt really good!  I knew I would get a personal record, I knew I ran as fast and hard as I could, and I couldn't wait to finish.  I sprinted around other runners for the last .1 mile and even crossed the finish line about the same time as a marathoner! His time was 2:32 or something like that...amazing!

    This just in...I just checked the official results and I finished in 2:03:53, not 2:04...I'll take it.  Official stats:

    Seattle, WA
    Age: 29 | Gender: F
    Overall: 4737 out of 17083 · Division: 471 out of 2084 · Gender: 2187 out of 11458
    Pace: 9:27

    Guess that should have been a three instead of a 4 :)
    The finish line area was a giant cluster and after I sprinted to the finish I needed to WALK or I knew I would pass out.  It was really hard to make my way through the medal and picture area to the food stuff but I made it and waited for my friends.  We hung out at the finish for a while chowing down and recaping the race and celebrating our 4th year all running together!  Our first half together was the 2008 SeaFair Half Marathon four years ago and we have all come a long way since then.  My time at that race was 2:35 and I've since shaved over 30 minutes off my time.
    I was really into flashing important numbers that day!
    I spent the rest of the day sleeping and eating and even catching a concert with a friend that night.  Thank you all for your well wishes and congratulations. I got the chance to meet some awesome blogger ladies and a couple men the other night at the blogger carbo loading dinner at the Spaghetti Factory....short recap coming in 3...2....1....

    I carpooled down with MyMarathonDiaries who rocked the marathon today BTW and had a great night chatting with ladies about running, blogs, and life.  Good food, good company and good SWAG.  Onlineshoes.com donated some sweet goodie bags made of an insulated lunch bag filled with a water bottle, coffee mug and more.  Tall Mom on the Run organized the event and she is just as sweet in person as she is in her blog.  Run, Zoe Run made trading cards for all the bloggers which was genius.  I need to send her my photo so I can get in on the action!
    How fun are these?

    Fun swag from onlineshoes.com

    So much fun paced into less than 24 hours.  I'm ready for bed...I hope I don't wake up until tomorrow afternoon!

    Added to my collection!
    I know you were all wondering what my pup did all day...look familiar?

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    I Rocked it and I Rolled it!

    Race recap to come soon but I definitely ran the fastest I could and pushed myself as hard as I could and the best part of all was I now have a new PERSONAL RECORD: 2:04!!

    Not quite under 2:00 but I'll get there someday, I know it!

    Time to EAT and SLEEP!

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Seattle Rock and Roll Expo Madness!!

    I went to the expo today to pick up my race packet and it got me even more excited to race on Saturday.

    Despite the fact that it is sort of a giant pain to drive to downtown Seattle, find parking, and navigate the entire expo on your lunch break I feel confident I saw every booth and got everything that was free (not that much BTW). 

    Here are my 5 tips for navigating the Rock and Roll expo in under an hour:

    1. Head straight to the packet pickup area, do not get distracted by the shiny headbands and cute t-shirts lingering all about (they will be there when you are done).  Pick up your shirt and analyze it to decide if spending over $100 was worth it.  Verdict: I like the shirt and it's different then the colors they have had in the past years, so sure worth it!

    2. Sign up for next years race! I made the mistake the past two years not doing this because I thought "oh, I don't know if I will run next year, I don't want to commit".  JUST DO IT, you save $40 on registration bringing the total for the half marathon to $55.  Plus, if you don't end up running you can sell your bib on the black market since people are willing to give up their first born to run this race.

    3. Buy your mid run fuel so you don't forget on Friday night and try to find a sports store open selling sports beans or Gu.  I'm a sports bean gal ALL THE WAY and I picked up a flavor that is new to me...watermelon.  The guy that sold them to me said the Watermelon flavor has 1/2 cup of coffee worth of caffeine in a packet so I plan on eating this before the race instead of drinking actual coffee to avoid any stomach issues (I'll spare you details).
    4. Find something fun to wear on race day.  I've heard millions of bloggers comment on how wonderful Bondi bands are and when I saw this Rock and Run one I knew it was perfect.  I also picked up an "Eat, Sleep, Run" one that will be perfect for the Ragnar Relay.  Pretty cheap too...$15 for both.

    I'll be wearing this bondi band so please say HI if you see me! I promise I won't look as creepy as I do in the above photo.

    5. Most of all use this time to pump yourself up for the race. Nearly everyone at the expo is running the race and striking up conversations with strangers about where they are coming from, if this is their first race, etc. etc. is fun.

    Less than 48 hours until race time.  Between now and then I plan on having some great carbo loading dinners starting with Mamma Melinas tonight with my friend Kath and then a bloggy meetup at the Old Spaghetti Factory tomorrow night.  I'm stoked to carpool with MyMarathonDiaries (visit her blog and send some marathon love her way) since we seem to have lots in common and she can help keep my stress level to a minimum while navigating Friday afternoon traffic to the south end!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Official Review: Helium 4 Fuel Belt

    So apparently, doing product reviews is quite popular on running blogs so here is my first.  Well, not actually mine but my running buddy Stacey's review of a fuel belt she just bought.  I actually have one myself that I'm planning on trying during marathon training.  Stacey sent this in an email to me and a friend and I thought it was a great review with a little bit of humor, which sums up Stacey pretty well!

    This is Stacey after her first half marathon...she looks WAY too happy and relaxed!
    Stacey took the Fuelbelt Helium 4 bottle running belt on a 12 mile run this past weekend and this is what she had to say:
    It actually went way better than expected and I didn’t really find it annoying at all. After the 1st mile or so I hardly even noticed it was there. I wore it around my waist as opposed to my hips and it didn’t move around at all. My arms never hit the bottles either which I thought they would. It has 4 8oz bottles which I filled not quite all the way up and had no problems with leaking. They didn’t feel too heavy. I used cold water which actually felt kinda good to have something cool resting against your core while you’re running.
    And the not so great stuff:

    The cons: 1. Its expensive (mine was 45 bucks at a running store). 2: Its kinda noisy (you can hear the water slosh as you move), but if you turn up your iPod loud enough this takes care of it. 3: I found it a little tricky to put the bottles back in their little holsters after you drink…especially the ones in the back. I assume I’ll get better with this with practice. 4: It has a zippered pouch where you could put stuff like an ID, keys, but its not very big so you couldn’t pack it full with a million packs of sport beans. (probably only 2 packs at most)
    From the website: http://www.fuelbelt.com/fuel_belts/images/helium4_large.jpg
    Thanks for the review Stace!  Of course she didn't get paid anything for this review and paid for the belt herself but if Helium needs another product tester...I can be bought :).

    In running news, the Rock and Roll half marathon is 4 days and I'm actually looking forward to it.  The weather is supposed to be the mid 60's and overcast which is PERFECT for running and I'm glad I don't have to stress about heat exhaustion during the run now.  I'm also looking forward to my first blog meetup for a carbo loading dinner on Friday night where I can get meet bloggers in real life :).

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Okay, I'm going to Say it...

    It is one week until my next half marathon. Of course, I didn't think this would be my first half marathon of 2011, but unfortunately my health got in the way of my first attempt in May.

    Next Saturday is the annual Rock and Roll Seattle marathon and half marathon and I love this race!  This will be my third year running it and I love the energy of the over 25,000 runners, the bands, and all the cheering along the course.  There is seriously no stretch where there aren't people cheering you on which makes for the best motivation to keep running your fastest. The course is relatively easy with minimal hills, gorgeous scenery, and amazing on-course support.  This of course only applies to the half course...I can't comment on the marathon course :)

    Best of all I'm running this race with my ladies who with this whole running business started back in 2008.
    We had NO idea what we were getting ourselves into on this morning back in 2008. Happy 4th anniversary ladies! 
    So, what is my goal for this half marathon you ask?  I have told various friends and briefly mentioned it on this blog before, but I'm going to say it confidently this time...

    I am GOING to run a sub 2 hour half marathon!

    I feel confident that I can race this half marathon and I am ready to push myself next Saturday morning.  I am usually a very conservative person when it comes to long distance races and stress over going out too fast, keeping a certain pace, blah blah blah.  My secondary goal is to let these fears go and just race.  What if I don't reach my time goal?  As long as I go out and race and leave all my energy on the course I'll have nothing to regret.  And secretly (well not anymore), if I don't get a sub 2 hour time at Rock and Roll I'll probably sign up for another half this summer to attempt it again.

    Between now and next week I plan on taking it VERY easy running wise so my legs are fresh and ready to race on Saturday! 

    QUESTION: Who do you know running the Seattle race??  Are you??  I will be in the family meetup area at letter V after the race meeting back up with my friends if you want to stop by and say HI. 

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    4 Months to Marathon Time

    So I meant to do a post when it was exactly 4 months until the Chicago marathon but life got in the way and I decided to pick my social life over my blog life for now.  I have been working on a training plan which will start on July 4 and I will share it with all of you when I'm done.  Of course, I have already been training for the past few months for half marathons but I don't really follow a strict plan.  My "plan" consists of running 3 times a week and making sure one of the runs is a longer run and gradually gets longer the closer it comes to half marathon time.  Meanwhile watch this video about running form (you have to click outside google reader to see vid):

    On Friday, I ran my last "long run" before the Rock and Roll half in two weeks with my good friend Stacey, who you may remember from the Mercer Island 10K.  We set out with the goal of running 11 miles and it ended up only being a 10.6 mile loop but Stacey was diligent and finished the last .4 with a small out and back to my car...I opted to stop to walk and drink Muscle Milk.  We started off pretty strong and kept a pretty consistent 10:00 / mile pace for the first 8 miles.

    Mile 1 - 10:00
    Mile 2 - 9:57
    Mile 3 - 10:00
    Mile 4 - 9:56
    Mile 5 - 10:07
    Mile 6 - 10:08
    Mile 7 - 10:15

    After the run Stacey and I were analyzing what happened at mile 8 and we realized that was right around the time we were stopped at a stop light for what seemed like 4-5 minutes.  It was too long to be resting and it was really hard to get back in the groove after that.  However, knowing the end was in sight was good enough for me to power my painful legs through to the end.

    Mile 8 - 10:27
    Mile 9 - 10:25
    Mile 10 - 10:04

    Total Time: 1:47
    Total Distance: 10.63

    My hips and legs were really feeling the last few miles but it was the kind of pain I knew I should stop running for.  After some good foam rolling and stretching I felt good as new.

    It was SOOO nice to get the long run over with so early in the weekend and we were even able to join our friends for happy hour at Ivars on Lake Union over-looking the Space Needle.  Since I didn't have to stress about when I was going to run over the weekend I did a first for me...ROCK CLIMBING! Always a sport that has scared me a little but a friend invited me to Vertical World in Seattle for an event sponsored by Vertical Girl clothing and a benefit for Girl Effect.  It was an awesome night filled with good friends, 4 total climbs for me (that was all my poor forearms and fingers could take!), and an amazing aerial performance!

    Watch this video about the Girl Effect...you will be moved!

    Okay, just breathe and don't look down.
    Still not looking down!

    Amazing aerial performance by Beverly!
    Emily is such a poser :)
    Carol was like a spider running up the rocks!
    Just a quick note on the future of this blog.  I realize it has been a bit random overall but I plan on posting more regular running updates as I actually start to officially train for the marathon so you can all hold me accountable and cheer me on.  As for the design, please bear with me as I try some new stuff out.

    A question to all you bloggers out there:  Was your blog well thought out before you clicked the create button?  Do you have any great websites for blog templates that are easy to use?

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Pardon My Dust!

    Hello Bloggy Blog Readers...

    Just a quick note to say "please pardon my dust".  I'm totally new to this blogging thing and would like to make my blog look a little nicer so in the process please just disregard the fact that my blog changes looks every 5 seconds.  I'll let you all know when it's "done".

    I googled "under construction sign" and this came up!

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Long Run Recap + Fuel

    Happy Tuesday everyone.  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was pretty jam packed but all of it with good stuff.  After enjoying happy hour with friends in Kirkland on Friday afternoon I went home to rest up and hydrate for my early morning run on Saturday. I knew it was going to be a warm sunny day so I set my alarm for 6:30 to wake up with enough time to eat breakfast, digest, and hit the road.

    Pre-Run FUEL:

    It has taken me a LONG time to figure out what works best for me for long runs and races and in the beginning a long run would equal me sleeping all afternoon with a splitting headache from lack of good fuel and hydration.  Once I figured out what works I stick to it like glue.  So, 2 hours before a scheduled long run or race I consume:
    • 2 scrambled eggs
    • English muffin
    • Some sort of fruit
    • Coffee
    • WATER

    The next 2 hours consist of TV watching, charging my Garmin and Ipod and food digesting.   Occasionally I will eat a half a banana or Luna bar right before the run but it's not a religious part of my routine.  On Saturday I filled my water bottle up with Gatorade and packed along a new gel to try.  My true love belongs with sports beans and I know they work for me, however, with marathon training coming up and the fact that I'll have to consume multiple energy eats along the way I wanted to try something smaller and more compact than the beans.

    The Run:

    8:30AM...out the door I went!  I discovered a new little trail that runs by the UW stadiums that took me right along Lake Washington.  I planned on trying out a new trail that connected with the Arboretum but too much rain the week before flooded most of it so I improvised and took some detours to add on the mileage.

    Mile 1 - 9:59
    Mile 2 - 9:53
    Mile 3 - 9:46
    Mile 4 - 10:17
    Mile 5 - 11:01 <---gagging on gel :(

    I stopped around mile 5 or so for a gel break and had to gag down the gel...so GROSS!  It sort of tasted like warm frosting and while I'm a huge frosting lover I do not crave it in the middle of a long run.  I knew I needed the fuel since it was pretty warm out so I choked it down and luckily none of it came back up during my run.

    My legs felt heavy and tired most of the way and a slight discomfort in my right hip turned into a large pain with every step around mile 8.5  I decided that 9 miles would be good enough today (I tentatively planned on 10) and when I stopped to talk the rest of the way home my hip felt better so I was happy with my decision to cut it short.

    Mile 6 - 10:10
    Mile 7 - 10:34
    Mile 8 - 10:06

    Post-Run Fuel:

    The second I got in the door back home I chugged a Muscle Milk Light.  Although I've heard some things about some of the ingredients in it not being great for you it really helps me recover and not feel like death the rest of the day so I partake!  I drank some coconut water and had a banana and left over corn bread snack. 

    Revelations during this run include:
    • I am NEVER eating a gel or gu again and now I have to figure out how I'm going to pack 5-6 packs of sports beans during a marathon on me.
    • Stopping when I'm literally saying out loud "OUCH" with every stride.
    • The sun and heat didn't affect me as bad as I thought and maybe I won't be such a weather baby anymore.
    • I need a couple more long runs before I'm confident I can race the Rock and Roll at the end of this month.
    Question for all you runners:  Any gus or gels out there I should try that won't make me gag??

      Wednesday, June 1, 2011

      It's National Running Day

      ...and what did I do to celebrate? Well, I didn't run. I actually set my alarm this morning to try and run since I have dinner plans with a friend after work but sleep sounded so much better at 5AM. Plus Stacey looked like she could use some more sleep too, so really I sacrificed my run so my dog could catch some more zzz's, that is what I'll tell myself.  I celebrate National Running Day 3-4 days a week every week, so I figure I can skip the official holiday.

      But in honor of National Running Day I thought I would share 5 reasons why I love running so much.

      1. The simplicity of it! You just need a good pair of running shoes and you are off. Of course I've taken it to a whole new level and I'm now a snob when it comes to running shoes, clothes, electronic accessories, etc...but really you just need some shoes.

      2. There is always time for a run (except today that is). You don't have to do much planning or drive to a gym. You can just step outside your door and run for as long or as little as you like. I live near an amazing park, Magnuson Park, in Seattle and on days when I have little time I just take a quick run around the park and call it good after 3 miles.

      3. The way a good run makes me feel. If you aren't a runner I can't really describe it but a good, long, sweaty run can make you feel so energized, stress-free, and ready to tackle anything.  Oftentimes, this is what gets me out the door when I'm feeling lazy.

      4. The places running has and will be taking me.  A great excuse for a vacation is signing up for an out of town race.  I went to Vegas for my first time ever and ran the Vegas 1/2 marathon in December 2008.  It was an amazing trip with 5 other amazing ladies with memories that will last me a lifetime.  Big Sur 1/2 marathon last November took me, Kath, and EY to Monterrey where we spent some quality time with a good high school friend and explored San Francisco, Disneyland and managed to run personal records during the race in between all of that!  And next up...Chicago for the 2011 marathon. Kath and I are planning to take this running business international in 2012, any suggestions?

      Enjoying our free beer after PRing at the Big Sur 1/2 marathon!

      5. BUT, most of all running has made me some amazing friends!  Even though I knew Kath, EY, Stace, and Rach before running...running races, planning long runs, and traveling together and has been the highlight of the past few years for me.  I've also made some other great friends through running adventures including the Ragnar Relay and running a 1/2 marathon for Humanity for Children last year.

      Team Flying V all dressed up.  We are reuniting at the 2011 Rock and Roll 1/2 and I can't wait!
      Part of the Humanity for Children at the 2010 Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon in Seattle
      Van 1 DONE in Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage 2010. We celebrated by drinking beers at 9am in a school parking lot...oops!
      I hardly knew this gem of a lady before running and now I can't imagine my life without her as a friend, thanks EY!
       In non-running related news, I got my camera back today! The repair was covered under my warranty so no cost (except being without a camera for over a month)!

      What are YOU doing to celebrate National Running Day?