Why Kiwi Fruit Should Be On Your Grocery List!

I’ve been buying a lot of kiwi fruit lately (and no, not because I’m from the land of “kiwi”), but because I love the taste and it’s one of the fruits that’s often readily available and usually not too expensive. But did you know that new research, from Teikyo University in Tokyo, indicates that “kiwis are one of the best fruits you can eat to help you fight disease.”

Here’s an excerpt from an article which reported the findings:

  • Kiwis are one of the best fruits you can eat to help you fight disease…They beat oranges, grapefruit, mandarins, and apples in their levels of antioxidants called polyphenols. Gold kiwi fruit came top for antioxidant content, followed by the green variety……‘Kiwi fruit may prevent the development of diseases caused by oxidative stress,’ say the researchers….

I love to eat kiwi fruit on it’s own, or with yogurt and cereal, but since my youngest daughter is so picky and not so keen on it, I turned it into a “treat” for her, and it worked. Try making these easy frozen treats the next time you buy some kiwi fruit.

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Ingredients

Kiwi fruit – 6 or 7 (try a combination of green and gold); 1/2 cup dark chocolate bits; 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil

Directions

Slice the kiwi fruit and place on a baking sheet (you can insert popsicle sticks if you like), then place in the freezer until frozen. Next, place the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler, and heat through until melted and nicely blended. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Take the frozen kiwi fruit and dip quickly into the cooled chocolate, then place back on the baking tray. Return to freezer for another 30 minutes or so, then -enjoy!

 

Taking The Family To The Trails


The following post was actually written for, and published by TrailRunner Magazine, but you might enjoy reading it too since WOOT will be hosting another family trail hike on Saturday 12th October. Click here to see the original article. 

Jannine Myers

In a recent article on Huffington Post, Carolyn Gregoire suggested that many of us are not using the weekends to rest and recharge as we should, but are instead using that time to work and get a jump-start on the next, busy week ahead. In her article, Gregoire cited blogger Laura Vanderkam, who had this to say about the sixty hours between 6 p.m. on Fridays and 6 a.m. on Mondays: “That’s plenty of time for fun, relaxation and more importantly, recharging the batteries.”

I’m not a “worker” in the sense that I get up each Monday and go to an office, but I do work from home and often feel stressed trying to juggle work and home/parenting commitments, especially as I try to minimize the amount of work I do on weekends.  Her words, and those of Gregoire’s, inspired me to make more of an effort to not only enjoy my weekends, but to enjoy them with my family.

Since I love my Saturday morning trail runs, I was thrilled when our trail-group leader here in Okinawa organized a weekend “family” hike. Trail running is one of my favorite weekly activities, but it’s an activity which excludes my family members and therefore takes time away from them. I usually justify my time out on the trails by insisting that my husband and daughters are asleep anyway. My husband and daughters have never complained about my absences on weekend mornings, but a little guilt often lingers—so the family hike would be an opportunity to share my love of the trails with him, as well as our nine- and 19-year-old daughters.

Though he’s not a runner, my husband shares my passion for being outdoors, and was particularly keen for our youngest daughter to join us on the hike. “She needs to experience the outdoors, get away from the urban build-up and see Mother Nature up close,” he said.

Even my dad, who was visiting from New Zealand, came out to enjoy some trail fun.

Even my dad, who was visiting from New Zealand, came out to enjoy some trail fun.

His comment brought to mind a couple of incidents I witnessed earlier this summer. One involved a group of kids at a beachside camping site watching movies in their parent’s minivan, and the other involved a friend’s teenage son who sat fuming by the side of a public swimming pool, because his parents had forced him to take a break from his video games. Today’s generation of kids seem to prefer the lure of indoor entertainment over outdoor activities, and both my husband and I are dead set against letting that happen to our daughters.

Enjoying the trails with my girls

Enjoying the trails with my girls

Despite the appeal of a lazy weekend morning spent indoors, relaxing in air conditioning to watch TV or surf the Internet, our oldest daughter, Chantal, really loved the experience of our family hike. Afterward, she said, “I’ve never enjoyed a workout as much as I did exploring those trails. The high I got from climbing steep hills, balancing on rocks through rivers and reaching the top of the mountain was the best feeling ever!”

She’s never enjoyed running, but she’s always wanted to run. Seeing how beautiful the trails were made her feel like running. “It was a whole different feeling from being out on local streets,” she said. “I wish we had gone out there to run rather than hike, which says a lot, because I have a hard time enjoying my runs!”

My nine-year-old daughter wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as her sister, but she said she enjoyed several parts of the hike—playing on a makeshift tree swing, discovering unusual-looking stick spiders and climbing up and over rocks as we made our way down the mountain. I remember doing these things often as a child, back when indoor play was not encouraged. These days, you have to create outdoor experiences for your children if you want them to be more active and explore nature’s backyard.

The challenging aspects of the hike—having to hold onto ropes and carefully scale our way over rocks and slippery terrain—also added value to the experience. As difficult as it was at times for my younger daughter, she felt a strong sense of accomplishment at the end of the hike.

Outdoor adventures offer so many rewards for everyone in the family; we plan to incorporate them into our weekend schedule whenever possible. And, as trail runners, there’s no better way to introduce our loved ones to the outdoors than by taking them out to the trails and sharing with them something that we are already so familiar with, and passionate about.

Tips for Sharing the Trails with Your Kids

  • Organize trail expeditions with other family friends who have kids the same age as your child/children. My younger daughter was not keen at all when we first pitched the idea of a family hike, but as soon as she learned that one of her friends was also going, that was enough to get her to change her mind.
  • My husband and I have never done this as a family, but we have a few friends who take their kids out geocaching, and many of their geocache adventures take them out to the hiking trails. I think this might be a great way to entice kids out on a trail adventure, as it involves “clue-finding.”
  • Take your kids out to some of your trail races and let them experience the camaraderie and excitement. Consider volunteering together at one.
  • Offer an incentive: let them choose, for example, where to go for a family breakfast after the trail run or hike.
  • Compromise–take them out trail running or hiking one weekend, and let them choose a family activity the following weekend.
  • Create a summer challenge–see how many trails and miles you can cover as a family over the summer break (and have rewards available along the way!)

Why Do Endurance Runners Need A Strong Core?

Jannine Myers

In conversations I’ve had with other runners, or in online forum discussions I’ve observed, the topic of resistance training is one that seems to draw a lot of different opinions. Some runners believe that running, on it’s own, is all that’s required to run well, while others insist that incorporating resistance workouts into the overall training mix is essential for optimal performance. I don’t know what works for everyone else, but I tend to aim for two resistance workouts a week, with a reasonable emphasis on core strength.

Last week I read an Athleta article, written by elite bicycle racer, Kelley Heye, about core strength and how to measure it. She shared the following core strength test, devised by the United Kingdom’s National Governing Body for Track and Field:

THE CORE MUSCLE STRENGTH AND STABILITY TEST

The objective of this evaluation is to monitor the development and improvements of core strength.

To prepare for the assessment you will need a:
  • Flat surface
  • 
Mat
  • Watch or clock with second counter
Conducting the Test:
  • Place the watch or clock where you can easily see it.
  • Start in the forearm plank position – if planks are new to you (elbows on the ground, shoulders over elbows, back flat like a plank, abs contracted), or in full plank position – if you feel capable. Hold for 60 seconds.
  • Lift your right arm off the ground. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return your right arm to the ground and lift the left arm off the ground. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return your left arm to the ground and lift the right leg off the ground
. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return your right leg to the ground and lift the left leg off the ground
. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Lift your left leg and right arm off the ground
. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return your left leg and right arm to the ground. Lift your right leg and left arm off the ground
. Hold for 15 seconds
  • Return to the forearm plank position (elbows on the ground). Hold this position for 30 seconds.

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This test was NOT EASY! I did pass, but not with the most graceful form, as you can see above – (the pictures however, have shown me how I can try to improve!)

Results:

Good Core Strength – If you can complete the test fully, you have good core strength.

Poor Core Strength – If you cannot complete the test fully, your core strength needs improvement. If you are unable to complete the test, practice the routine three or four times each week until you improve. By comparing your results over time, you will note improvements or declines in core strength.

For more information on why core strength is so beneficial for runners, read this article! It’s extremely informative, and provides a great 15 minute core workout.

 

Cherry Oatmeal Bars – For A Little Inflammation Relief

It’s that time of year when I start to get a little more serious about my training. Fall marks the beginning of a new race season, and consequently the start of a gradual increase in overall running volume and intensity. Unfortunately, for me that also means the beginning of a new round of tired and achy muscles, and quite often inflammation in certain trouble spots.

One of my favorite treats that I sometimes have in my pantry, is Bob’s Red Mill Dried Tart Cherries, and one of the major nutritional benefits of cherries is that they contain anti-inflammatory effects. The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that “the antioxidants in cherry juice and dried cherries (both unsweetened and sweetened) are similar to fresh cherries,” so my dried cherries that I have been feasting on lately are hopefully doing my muscles some good.

Here’s a delicious recipe I found on SkinnyTaste.com – it’s a bar that’s loaded with ingredients that I love, and of course, tart dried cherries:

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed well, 1/2 cup water, 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 1/2 cups ripe and mashed bananas, 1 large beaten egg, 1/4 cup raw honey, 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil, 2 tsps vanilla extract, 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/3 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup dark chocolate bits

Directions:

Grease a baking pan and line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool completely.

Mix together the oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add mashed bananas, egg, honey, oil and vanilla to the quinoa, and stir until just blended. Add the banana mixture to the oats mixture and stir until just blended. Mix in dried cherries, walnuts and chocolate bits.

Spread the batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, and refrigerate for 20 minutes before cutting. Store in refrigerator, or freezer if you wish to save for later.

 

Lessons from “Spider Loop” Trail

Jannine Myers

The last few times we’ve gone out to run our favorite “Spider Loop” trail, we’ve crossed paths with several large banana spiders. If we see them ahead of us, we do our best to duck underneath their webs, but sometimes getting past them requires running right through them, knocking them to the ground and destroying their web in the process. We generally don’t stick around to assess the damage, because banana spiders are just a tad bit scary, but surprisingly enough we have discovered that they don’t scurry off in defeat, but that they simply get back to spinning their web again. We know this because by the time we loop back around a new web is almost in place.

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Okinawa banana spider (Photo source – Mike’s Ryukyu Gallery)

 

Could you imagine if we had that kind of tenacity – where we could somehow find the strength to rise up again if the things that kept us elevated and secure were suddenly swept from beneath us? For most of you reading this post, running is a key part of your life; it’s something you rely on to meet various needs (physical, emotional, and social). Losing the ability to run temporarily would probably result in a considerable amount of disappointment, and how that disappointment is handled might determine how quickly (or slowly) running can be resumed. Will we toss our hands up in despair and throw ourselves a pity party, or will we accept that we have an injury, or over-training illness, or a busy work schedule for example, and get busy (like the banana spider), rebuilding a path that leads to a quick-as-possible return to running? I’d like to think that we’d choose the latter option and not let temporary lapses in our training get the better of us.

Here’s a few quotes from some elite female athletes to help keep us inspired when we hit those low moments in training – and believe me, there will be lows from time to time:

  • I truly believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Even if you fail, learning and moving on is sometimes the best thing.” – Danica Patrick, race car driver
  • Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice. – Bethany Hamilton, surfer
  • Falling in life is inevitable—staying down is optional.'” – Carrie Johnson, two-time Olympic kayaker
  • ‘If you think you can’t, you won’t, and if you think you can, you will. When I’m tired at practice, I tell myself that I’m not tired, and I can push through. If you tell yourself you’re tired or if you tell yourself you’re sick, your body is going to follow the mind. –Kellie Wells, 2011 USA indoor and outdoor 100m hurdles champion
  • My dad would tell me to, ‘Play for those who couldn’t play.’ So my motivation is for people who struggle in life daily – Misty May-Treanor, two-time beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist
  • My competition isn’t resting! – Kim Rhode, five-time Olympic shooter
  • Some people say I have attitude- maybe I do…but I think you have to. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there.” – Venus Williams (Tennis)
  • The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.” – Sarah Bombell (Swimmer)
  • Winners are afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning. – Billie Jean King (Tennis)

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Pure Beet Juice Might Get You Across The Finish Line Faster

Jannine Myers

Several weeks ago, a good friend of mine introduced me to an organic beet juice powder, made by the company Pure Clean Powder. I happily mixed the sample packet he gave me into a smoothie concoction that I created, assuming that I would be gaining some type of “super food” nutritional benefit. In a later conversation with my friend, he explained that the beet juice powder was being used by athletes to improve endurance ability. Intrigued by his comments, I went online to search the company’s website and see exactly what claims they are making about their product.

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Here is an excerpt from their “Science” page:

Beet Juice works. It’s a performance booster like no other. And it’s all about the Natural Nitrates. Our Beet Juice Powder has been extensively tested, and the nitrates are pure and perfect, even more concentrated than in whole beets!…… Nitrates in beet juice have been shown to boost power output without changing oxygen consumption….. Nitrates effectively lower the oxygen cost of exercise.  Researchers have found that…. beet juice decreases blood pressure, which allows better blood flow as well as oxygen consumption. It also aids your muscles by reducing the amount of oxygen needed during exercise. So your heart doesn’t have to work as hard and muscles will have greater endurance and will recover faster.

I contacted the company and they sent me a generous supply of their single pack samples. I decided to put them to the test the very next morning and experiment with them over a period of two weeks. Here’s the details and results of my “mini” experiment:

  • Details – Every morning for a period of two weeks, I consumed one single pack of beet juice powder with approximately 8oz. water, about an hour before exercising. I ran most mornings for both weeks, and made sure to keep my distances and routes the same, and an “easy” pace for all runs. A few things to keep in mind: a) the recommended amount of beet juice powder may differ from person to person, and really requires a trial and error approach, b) the powder should ideally be consumed at least two hours prior to exercising, but the best I could do was an hour prior since I run so early, and c) drinking the powder with just water takes some getting used to (again, it’s up to each individual to try different dosages, as well as “ways” to drink the powder).
  • Results –  First of all, let me share with you what one of the company representatives wrote me, with regards to getting the maximum benefits: “You won’t really be in the optimum zone until you’ve been drinking it 4 or 5 days. You’ll feel a little more change each day as it builds up. Then after about 4 days you’ll stay at a really good level.” I guess I was expecting to feel great after several days of drinking the powder, but I honestly didn’t feel any different and there were actually a  few days where I felt like I struggled more than usual. In saying that however, we have had some extremely hot and humid days this summer, and so it’s possible that the “bad” days I experienced were really due to the heat elements. With the not-so-noticeable changes in how I felt physically, I was surprised to see at the end of the two weeks, that my total run distance in week two, was greater than that of week one by almost a mile and a half!

So does the beet juice work? I don’t know for sure, but I’d be willing to test it again some time, and maybe next time, during the days leading up to a race.

For more information about this product, or to order, visit http://purecleanpowder.com

Let us know how you get on if you decide to try this product,or if you have already tried it!