GLTR – Girls Love To Run

Jannine Myers

WOOT wrapped up another successful run-club program a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the generous time and coaching contributions of WOOT member Alli Kimberley, some of our young aspiring runners were able to spend twelve weeks getting a taste of what it’s like to get up early on Saturday mornings and run on various types of terrain at different locations. Here’s what Alli and some of the participants and their mothers had to say about the program:

What made you decide to start GLTR (Girls Love To Run), and what was the main objective in offering this program?

Alli: I started GLTR (pronounced Glitter), because I wanted to pass on all the gifts that running has given to me; running has given me confidence in my own strength and abilities. I wanted the girls to realize they were strong and capable, and I wanted to give them something that would stay with them wherever they found themselves.

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Alli in back center

How was the program structured?

Alli: GLTR ran on all different terrain: pavement, trail, and track. We started at 1 mile the first week and over the next eight weeks we increased our distance with the aim of eventually running a 5k. The last four runs were 2-3 mile runs on our favorite roads, purely for enjoyment. The last four weeks were definitely my favorite; the girls were comfortable running and they were starting to realize the joys of running without worrying about distance or speed.

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What were the ages of the girls?

Alli: The youngest was 4 and the oldest was 12; most of the girls were between 7 and 9.

Did you encounter any problems?

Alli: The main problem was that myself and some of the moms sometimes had trouble making it on time to the GLTR runs, after finishing earlier-morning WOOT runs. And I may have been a bit ambitious in thinking the girls would remain motivated for 12 weeks, although they seemed to enjoy it all the way through so I guess it wasn’t really a problem.

How do you think the girls handled the weekly runs?

Alli: The girls did incredible. We had a few that seemed like they were going to struggle and hate every minute after the first run, but they all finished the 5k with smiles on their faces. I emphasized running “at your own pace.” Almost all of the moms ran with us, and were able to let their daughters run at their own pace. I tried to ensure that the runs were on trails or paths that they could not get lost, so that no one had to feel pressured to keep up.

What would you do different next time? 

Alli: Next time I might push the runs back from 9am to 9:30am, and maybe only do eight weeks. Additionally, I’d like to try and mark the courses in some way.

And a few comments from the moms and girls:

What did your daughters most enjoy most about the program, and would they do it again?

Abby (7 yrs old): It was awesome but hard. I like running against the water. I would do it again.

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Abby’s Mom: I liked it being bonding time with me and my girl. She could get a taste of why I love to run.

Lauren (12 yrs old): I loved the beach run. I like that I became a better runner. I dropped three minutes off my mile time in P.E.! Yes, I would do it again.

Lauren’s Mom: I enjoyed getting out and moving with my daughter. I’ve not been the most active person, but this group motivated me to make some changes. The different locations were wonderful too!

Morgan (9 yrs old): I liked running with friends; I’d definitely do it again.

Gigi: I liked running with my mom, and with my friends, and I liked making new friends.

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Gigi’s Mom: Gigi liked cheering friends on at the finish line, and she enjoyed going home and telling her dad about how far she ran. This gave her confidence and really made her feel good.

Was there anything your daughters did not like about the program?

AbbyRunning –  and it smelled like cow poop! (her mom says, “That’s a direct quote” 😂😂)😂  )

Lauren: I didn’t like that I didn’t get to sleep in on Saturdays!

Morgan: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t enjoy about the program.

Thank you so much Alli Kimberley, for sharing your love of running and instilling so many great values in the hearts and minds of all the girls who participated in GLTR; WOOT appreciates you!

Mini Recipes For Mini Wooters

Jannine Myers

We now have budding WOOTers following in our footsteps; well, actually they’re called GLTR (Girls Love To Run), and pronounced “Glitter.” They’ve only been at it for a couple of weeks so we’ll let them get more fully established before reporting on them, but in the meantime here’s a couple of nutritious recipes for your active girls: Pork and Red Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, and Flourless Mini Choc-Nut Muffins.

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Pork and Red Lentil Shepherds Pie

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

1/2 lb lean pork pieces

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups organic chicken broth

1/2 cup water

1 cup red lentils, uncooked

2 tbsps tomato sauce

1 tsp worcestershire sauce

2 medium sweet potatoes (orange or yellow)

2 tbsps butter

1/2 cup shredded cheese

 

In a frying pan, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil, then add the carrots and let cook for a few minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender or food processor. Add 1/3 portion of the chicken broth to the blender, and pulse until the vegetables are minced.

Next, add the pork to the fry pan and cook for a few minutes (add a little extra oil if needed). Once the meat is brown, add the flour and quickly whisk. Then slowly add the remaining broth, making sure to whisk as you’re pouring so that there are no lumps from the flour. Stir in the water, tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, and mix well. Add the lentils and vegetable mixture, and slowly bring the liquid to a boil before lowering the heat and simmering (cover with lid), on low for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

While the lentil mixture is simmering, boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Mash with the butter (and a little milk if too dry).

Fill individual ramekins with the the cooked lentil and pork mixture, to two-thirds full. Top each ramekin with mashed sweet potato and shredded cheese, and top with black pepper. Bake in a 375 F pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Flourless Mini Choc-Nut Muffins (super easy by the way)

Ingredients

1/2 cup sunbutter

1/2 cup peanut butter [or use any nut butters you have, either a combination or just one kind]

2 medium sized bananas

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla (try making your own!)

2 tablespoons of honey

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Chocolate chips – a small handful

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place all ingredients, except the chocolate chips, into a blender or food processor, and blend until well mixed. Pour batter into a greased mini muffin tin. Top each muffin with a few chocolate chips. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.

 

[Taken from this recipe]

Happiness Jar

Anna Boom

Reading on one of those lists, you know the lists that pop up, “Seven Simple Habits for a Healthy Life” or “How to Make Brownies without Sugar” (it’s not true, do not try this at home), I found one tip that I thought we could use in our running life.

3 Steps for a Happy Running Life”

  1. Save an empty jar, anything will do. When you finish a run, write down one positive thing that happened to you, then put it in your Happy Running Jar. There are days when you are running on water, gliding along like a gazelle, pushing the pace like never before, running the farthest you’ve ever gone. And then there are those days when it really, really stinks and you just don’t even feel like a “runner”. Find one good thing and write something positive anyway: the smell of autumn is fresh, or the sunrise took your breath away, or that you made it out the door, tied up your sneaks and moved forward.
  2. There are no rules to what you add. You found a lovely rock as you tripped down the trail, your child found a piece of stick that looked like a bug. Anything goes!! Keep some scrap paper and pens near the jar so you can easily grab and write before the world zooms back in on you. Origami paper, markers, crayons, you name it.
  3. When you are feeling down, as happens to us all, look through some of your happy moments. Be thankful for all the joy and happiness you can find. These small reminders of your past happiness will bring you back from “the down”. It is a great way to look and see all you have done, all the moments big and small and that it was the journey all along.

If you do make a Happy Running Jar, please share a picture. We’d love to see it and enjoy your journey too.

happy jar

http://www.wikihow.com/Keep-a-Happiness-Jar

This Week’s Farmers Market Buys – Part One

Jannine Myers

I am loving the Japanese orange-flesh sweet potatoes right now! If you like sweet potatoes as much as I do, check out these recipes:

The first is a recipe that reminds me of winter-time meals back home. You’ve probably all tasted or heard of Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie, but if you haven’t it’s a popular dish in New Zealand (though traditionally from northern England), that’s made with ground beef and topped with mashed potato. The recipe I used is one that replaces the potato with sweet potato, and it’s really good! I actually made these for my 11-year old because she’s kind of a picky eater, but my older daughter and I love them too.

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Ingredients

  • Sweet potato – 2 large, sliced
  • Almond milk 3–4 tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • cheese (e.g. colby, edam, cheddar) 1 cup grated
Pie filling
  • Olive oil 1 tablespoon
  • Onion 1, finely diced
  • Garlic 1 clove, minced
  • Carrot 1, peeled and grated
  • Zucchini 1, grated
  • Ground beef (organic, if possible) 500g
  • Tomato paste 2 tablespoons
  • Tamari soy sauce 1 tablespoon
  • Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon
  • mustard (e.g. Dijon or wholegrain) 1 tablespoon
  • Flour 1 tablespoon
  • Beef broth ½ cup

Preheat oven to 190 C/375 F. Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil.

  1. Cook sweet potato in pot of boiling water for 12–15 minutes, until very soft. Drain and mash with butter and milk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a large fry-pan on medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, carrot and zucchini for about 3–4 minutes. Add beef and cook for a further 3–4 minutes until brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon (drain fat before continuing with remaining ingredients). Add tomato paste, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and mustard, stir until combined. Sprinkle over flour, stir to combine and cook for 1–2 minutes then add beef broth, stir and simmer for 5–7 minutes until sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Fill four individual ramekins (to 2/3 full) with pie filling. Top with sweet potato mash and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then let it cool slightly before serving. Serve with a side of fresh greens.

[Recipe from Nadia Lim]

The second recipe is one that is currently my favourite post-run breakfast meal! Seriously, if you have not tried eating sweet potatoes this way, you must:

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Just three ingredients are needed for this awesome recipe:

  1. Sweet potatoes (orange-flesh) – 2 or 3 medium/large
  2. Almond butter – 1 tbsp per half sweet potato
  3. Cinnamon – a generous dash

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 F. Gently scrub and clean the sweet potatoes, then pierce the tops of them with a fork before laying them on a foil-lined baking tray. Bake for at least 45 minutes.

[Tip: I bake the sweet potatoes the night before]

In the morning, when you’re ready to eat, take half of one of the sweet potatoes (keep the rest stored in an air-tight container in the fridge), and warm it up in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Spread about a tbsp of almond butter over the warm sweet potato, and sprinkle with cinnamon. So delicious!!! {And don’t take the skin off, it’s packed with nutrients!)

I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts why sweet potatoes are a great food for runners, but here’s a good visual reminder:

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 Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!

Feeding Your Family Healthy Meals Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

Jannine Myers

I’m really excited for you to read this post; if you do I’m almost certain it will motivate you to do your best – most of the time – to take care of your family by feeding them real food with real nutritional value.

Let me introduce you to Kristen Tull, mother of five, and former Preschool Director but currently stay-at-home mom. Kristen is also a member of WOOT, and a good friend of mine who agreed to let me interview her for this post. Having spent time with Kristen and her family, both in and outside of her home, it didn’t take me long to observe that eating healthy is a daily priority for them. Putting this post together was somehow important to me because I understand how frustrating it is for busy moms who want to serve their families healthy meals, but struggle to do so.

Please take from this post whatever tips you think may work for you; the intent in sharing Kristen’s success as a “healthy home cook,” is not to highlight others’ weaknesses, but to offer practical and simple solutions to those who also desire to feed their families healthy meals.

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Interview Q & A

1. How often do you grocery shop? Is healthy eating affordable, or are you willing to spend more for the sake of good health?

I grocery shop every couple of days, usually off base. I make a commissary “run” about once every other week, usually for things like paper plates, toilet paper, etc. I find that quick grocery runs are so much easier, even if they are more frequent, than a big long one. On longer shopping excursions, my kids are done by the second aisle; by the time we hit the checkout line I’m so exhausted from keeping them in line that I don’t feel like going home and cooking.

For me, healthy eating is cheaper than eating all of the over-processed, pre-packaged food. As a matter of fact, I found that out first-hand last week. My husband was gone for most of the summer, and I took the kids camping. Usually I cut up a ton of fruits and veggies and throw them into disposable tupperware containers. I’ll pick up some fresh meat and charcoal along the way, but this last time I just didn’t have it in me and out of desperation I went to the commissary and bought a bunch of junk. It was super expensive and I realized it really wasn’t that much easier. I had to take so many bags of “food,” clean up so many containers, and I felt terrible about feeding my kids food that had no nutritional value. I learned two lessons: 1. it’s not cheaper and 2. it’s not easier. I’d rather pay whatever it takes to give my children the best possible start at a healthy life.

2. How many meals would you say you prepare a week? And when you don’t have time, what do you typically feed the family?

I typically prepare meals 5-6 times a week. We used to go out to eat more often when we had 2 or 3 kids, but once we added the 4th and 5th, that had to stop. Being in Japan however, that is sometimes hard for me because I know there are lots of yummy, healthy places to eat.

When I don’t have time to cook, I will usually stop at a Japanese grocery store and purchase a quick meal to go. My children are keen on eating healthy so they usually ask for an onigiri (rice ball), or a salad with fruit and a tofu pudding for dessert. My oldest often asks for noodles, but I limit her intake and when she does have noodles, I make sure she also has some type of protein as well as a fruit and/or veggie.

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lunch – mixed raw veges and tuna

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3. How do you manage your time; for example, what does a typical week day look like for you?

I manage my time by prepping early. I usually work-out in the morning before my husband goes to work, and if I am lucky I may even get my shower in! Once my older children are off to school (or in the summer they just go with me), I will plan what I am going to cook for dinner, then head out to the Japanese markets as soon as they open. If I know I am going to be busy the following morning, I will purchase enough food for two evening meals. If the stars align right, I can get at least one of my younger kids down for a nap and I’ll drink some coffee then start prepping for dinner.

Sometimes I get everything done by noon, in which case I just have to heat it up in the evening; when that happens I have the rest of the day to play with my babies or do something I want to do. I feel that getting up and going early really helps me get the day started right and allows me to manage my time efficiently. I also do laundry every day; I put a load in before I work-out, switch it over before I shower, then fold before I go to the market. I have my children put their clothes away as an evening chore! That also gives me more time to spend in the kitchen.

When my children get home from school, I have time to help them with homework. If they have a sporting event, we will have an early dinner and I’ll cut up some fruit or make them a protein shake afterward (as a snack) since we ate so early. If they don’t have a sporting event, I will usually give them an afternoon snack and we’ll eat dinner around 6pm.

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At a dragon boat sporting event – loads of fresh fruits and vegies to snack on

4. Where do you get your ideas for meals from? A lot of moms give up because they don’t know what to buy and cook. How do you overcome this challenge?

I cook very simple meals most of the time – grilled chicken, baked fish, sauteed beef, etc (I rarely look for recipes but if I do, I use Pinterest and search for “quick and healthy”). I will always have a fresh veggie, fresh fruit and some type of carbohydrate, usually rice (I have a Japanese rice cooker that allows rice to be kept for about 3 days). Sometimes I’ll boil sweet potatoes or have a whole grain pasta. Most of the time my veggies are raw. On the weekend, I will make a big batch of hummus and salsa, as well as boil two dozen eggs. I will cut up all the veggies I have and whatever fruit is on hand. Again, I’ll put them in tupperware containers and my children can snack freely on them.

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turkey and tomato basil wraps, pistachios, kiwi fruit

For breakfast I always do something hot and it’s usually a big meal. I will give them oatmeal with chia seeds and hemp seeds, sweetened with honey. I might also give them something I made ahead and froze. Another of my kids’ favorite breakfast meals is scrambled eggs with rice and salad (my children love that in the morning). If for some reason I don’t have time, I will throw something together in the Vitamix – some type of smoothie to fill their bellies. To me, that’s just as quick as pouring four bowls of cereal, plus it’s healthier and it will keep their bellies full for a longer period of time. For snacks at school, I will send them with fresh fruits and veggies. Sometimes a homemade protein bar (super simple, three ingredients, oats, coconut cream and peanut butter), or some type of muffin that I have packed with nutrients (flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, dates).

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carrot juice – carrots water almond milk ginger honey

5. What’s the most challenging aspect of trying to serve healthy meals to a large family like yours?

The most challenging aspect for me, feeding a large family the way I do, is DISHES! We don’t have a dishwasher, and although I have my daughter help when she can, I like to do them throughout the day (again, leaving me more family time in the evening). So, to overcome this, I use paper plates and cups. I do feel bad for the environment, but I also feel that by not purchasing all the pre-packaged foods, I am helping even more. If we move into a house with a dishwasher, I will do away with that, but that is what I do for now.

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pancake – banana, egg, flaxseed, chia seed, topped with yogurt and honey

6. What advice do you have for busy moms who struggle to feed their families healthy meals?

My best advice is to clean out your pantries and your fridge and start fresh. Purchase only enough for a couple of days. I also don’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets; no microwave, no fancy apple cutter, just a knife for everything. I listen to music while I cook and have the baby in a bouncy near me so she isn’t left alone. I’ll have my 2-year old color or build blocks on the floor in the kitchen. My children are very healthy and they like what I cook. Sometimes they complain when their friends have goldfish for a snack while I send them to school with an orange that they have to peel and a hardboiled egg, but they also understand why they are eating those things. I will allow them to eat “unhealthy” stuff on occasion, but again, it gives me such peace of mind to know that I am doing the absolute best I can for them.

I also go by the philosophy that if they are hungry enough they will eat it, so I don’t buy into the idea that my child will starve if I don’t feed them what they like or what society says they should like. Obviously I’m not going to intentionally make something I know they don’t like and make them eat it, but if I know they like carrots, then carrots it is – not the shrimp chips the neighbors have that may seem more appealing to them. If they choose not to eat the carrots, they will go hungry. This doesn’t usually happen, but I feel that I am teaching them some responsibility for their food choices, even at a young age. My two year old for example, is happy to walk around and snack on an entire carrot, half of an apple, and an entire cucumber! Less cutting, very little mess, it keeps her little hands and mouth busy, and she’s eating snacks that are good for her (she will even snack on half of a red bell pepper)!

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A couple more things……. I order what I can online! Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, pure aloe gel, organic honey, protein powder; I have these on auto ship from Amazon. It helps to reduce time spent at the supermarket or commissary. And finally, I use the Cozi App to help me manage my shopping lists and daily “to-do” list. My husband has access to the shopping list as well, so if I need him to pick any items up on his way home from work, he just needs to sign in to our Cozi account and see what I need.

I think society has made healthy eating seem so unattainable for a busy family, but for me, it’s so much easier – if you just keep things simple.

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A final thought from me: Olympic Marathon medalist Deena Kastor, believes in making choices – not sacrifices. I tend to agree, and I think I can safely say that Kristen’s efforts to make healthy eating a way of life for her family is less of a sacrifice than it is a positive choice.

More “Baking With Bran” Recipes

Jannine Myers

I’ve been doing more baking lately, mainly because my 10-year old loves her sports and has a pretty full extracurricular schedule that keeps her metabolism humming along nicely – in other words, she’s always hungry! And since we often have limited amounts of time between activities, I want to feed her snacks that I know will provide enough energy without leaving her feeling weighed down, or alternatively, hyped up from too much sugar.

Since I also battle with her when it comes to making her eat more fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (which in turn impacts her fiber intake), I decided to add a decent serving of wheat bran in this week’s snack recipes. Wheat bran is not only high in fiber, but it’s vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content is pretty impressive, and furthermore, it’s bulk helps to stave off hunger – which is just what my daughter needs in between activities when she doesn’t have time for a full meal.

Recipe One: Banana-Choc-Nut Bran Muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 medium, mashed bananas
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or just mix a little lemon juice with regular milk)
  • 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or flour of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Soak bran in buttermilk for at least 10 minutes. Then, whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in bananas, buttermilk and wheat bran, oil and vanilla.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  4. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

Modified version of this recipe

Recipe Two: Oatmeal Raisin Bran Cookies

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Ingredients

1 cup gluten free flour

1 cup gluten free oats

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup organic raisins

1/3 cup walnuts

1/4 cup wheat bran

1/3 cup almond butter

1/4 cup (high quality) maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup milk (any kind)

2 tbsps ground flax

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Soak the bran in the milk for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, salt, spices, coconut sugar, and ground flax) in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk together the almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup. Add the milk and bran and mix well.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine. Add the raisins and walnuts, and stir together until a dough forms.
  6. Scoop small ball-sized pieces of the dough from the bowl, and shape into cookies before laying them out on a baking tray.
  7. Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool.

Work-Life-Run balance?

Anna Boom

Running, working, raising kids, being a loving wife, being a good daughter and going to school: it is one big balancing act and some days it feels like the scale tips the wrong direction.

How can we manage all that we do without losing our minds?!

Some advice from other parents and runners:

— from Coach Jannine Myers, who has run Boston, ultra-marathons, along with being a writer, women’s running coach and loving wife and mother.

“…when both my girls were young and I was a working mom, exercise became even more of a priority for me because it gave me the relief and fulfillment I needed at such a busy time in my life. However, that meant that I had to sacrifice in other areas, and for me, the sacrifice usually meant giving up sleep. Which is what I mean by not necessarily giving the best advice – as sleep is just as important as exercise in terms of maintaining good health.”

— from Ultramarathon Man, Dean Karnazes much along the lines of Coach J’s advice:

He doesn’t let training infringe on family time (he has a daughter, 10, and a son, 7). So, after tucking his kids into bed on a Friday, he’ll run 75 miles through the night and meet his family the next morning in the Napa Valley for breakfast. Or he’ll rise early Saturday, run a marathon before breakfast, and another on Sunday.” http://insightfuldevelopment.com/inspired-must-read-story-dean-karnazes/

— from me. I have run a few ultras, Boston and some IronMan triathlons and along with the above two coaches, agree that you cannot have it all.

After I had my youngest daughter, I decided to run my first ultra distance. My training partner and I would meet every Saturday and Sunday morning, starting at 4:00 AM to get the miles in before the family woke up. Was it easy to get out of bed at 3:30 or earlier? Not.At.All.

I also knew I could not train for another IronMan while working full time with small children. It was too much time out on a bike or in the pool or out running. So I gave that up and picked the sport I love most, trail running.

As Jannine and Dean have both wrote, something has to give.

For all of us, it meant little to no social life past 8:00 PM. When 7:30 rolled around, I could feel the tiredness start to seep in. Our social hour shifted to our early morning running hour, which became our WOOT group. And that is why we get up and get going so early, along with the heat and sun and other family fun waiting at home for our return.

Work-life-run balance is possible but where your priorities lie, is what will get you going and keep you moving. And someday soon, you will get to that next stage of your life, kids grow up, school is finished, our goals shift. One foot in front of the other; you got this!

Are Meal Planning Services The Answer For You?

Jannine Myers

A few weeks ago, one of our members asked if I had any “dinner recipe” ideas. Meghan Walsh is pregnant, with an under-two year old at home, and not much in the mood lately to put much thought into her family’s dinner-time meal. But, she says, her husband has probably had his fill of grilled chicken and salad, and would probably appreciate some menu changes.

I think Meghan’s problem is one that is shared by a lot of busy moms, and as athletes it can be a source of added grief because we want to make sure that we’re feeding ourselves and our family members a diverse and nutritionally dense diet. Often, the key obstacles that get in the way of our efforts to do so include: a ) busy schedules, b) small children to tend to, and c) a lack of ideas.

As I thought about Meghan’s dilemma, I was reminded of another conversation I had several months ago with one of our other members, Corinne Williams. During one of our weekend runs, Corinne asked me if I had ever tried using the Fresh 20 program. I told her no, that I had never heard of it, and she proceeded to give me the run-down on it and how she and her husband and son had been regularly subscribing to the program for some time.

The Fresh 20, described online as “Budget Friendly Meal Plans For Busy Families,” is exactly that. It’s a meal planning service designed to help families and singles eat fresh, healthy, and inexpensive meals each week. They take care of all the guess work for you, so all you need to do is buy the ingredients and prepare the meals, which by the way are so simple that your kids can help. Or if they’re older, you can even have them prepare the meal for you. Corinne occasionally asks her teenage son to cook dinner if she’s busy; she simply leaves her IPad open on the recipe page and he follows the directions.

Meal planning services might be just the solution for busy moms and also for those of you who are single active duty members. Listed below is a comparison of five different meal planning services – take a look and see if any might be a compatible fit with you and/or your family’s needs:

the fresh 20

The Fresh 20

  • 20 ingredients/20 minutes – should take less than 20 minutes to do all your shopping. Nothing is processed or frozen, to ensure that you are not eating preservative-free foods.
  • Step-by-step guide is provided to help with preparation for each week’s meals
  • Meal plans are posted on Fridays – that gives you the weekends to shop and prepare for the following week
  • 5 meals per week
  • Options for Classic, Gluten-Free, Veggie, Dairy-Free, Kosher, and Singles
  • 3 months for $18, or12 months for $54

Cook Smarts

  • Mission is to help anyone, even those who have never cooked before, to learn how to create quick, healthy meals. Jess Dang, the founder of Cook Smarts, describes the program as being like the “Home Ec” class that you never got to take.
  • When you subscribe to Cook Smarts, you get access to all their meal plans, dating back to May 2013. That means you can switch out any meals that you don’t like from your weekly meal plans.
  • Four meals are posted by Friday morning of each week; you’ll receive an email in your inbox. Paleo, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free options are all available. When you click on the link, it will take you to the menu and once you check the selections you want, a grocery list will be generated for you.
  • A “Make Ahead” option is available for those who would prefer to spend a little time in the kitchen on the weekend preparing in advance, and less time on week nights making the meals.
  • Short videos are available for you to watch and follow along as you cook the meals; the idea is to teach you how to cook as you go, i.e. how to dice onions, or slice chicken breasts, etc.
  • Average weekly cost of groceries is around $75 for a family of four
  • Not the best service for singles (cooking for one)
  • Cost for 3 months of meal plans is $21, 6 months $42, one year $72 (Best Value)

The Six O’Clock Scramble

  • Meals for each week, including sides and a grocery list
  • All meals should take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, and some take as little as 20 minutes.
  • Recipes and instructions are easy enough to be followed by younger members of the family, or teens at least. Or, maybe your spouse likes to cook too.
  • Recipe modifications are provided for picky eaters, and also for adventurous eaters.
  • Meals are balanced, healthy, and budget-friendly.
  • Meals can be customized to accommodate the following needs or concerns: weight loss, vegetarian, food allergies, gluten free, kosher, dairy free, and low sodium
  • Cost is $29 for 3 months, $49 for 6 months, and $97 for 2 years

No More “To Go”

  • 5 meal plans, with sides plus a bonus weekend recipe
  • A grocery list that’s sorted into categories to make shopping quick and easy
  • Tips to help you modify the meals if you have Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, or picky eaters in the family
  • A variety of different cuisines – using lots of different proteins, as well as fresh, seasonal produce and ingredients free of preservatives
  • What’s unique about No More “To Go,” is that all the meals are first taste-tested by real families (tested by all age groups – adults, teens, young kids), and only approved if they pass the “dinner table” test.
  • Cost is $7 for 1 month, $18 for 3 months, $34 for 6 months, or $64 for 12 months

Deliciously Organic

  • Recipes each week for 5 dinners, 1 or 2 desserts, and 1 snack
  • Emphasis is on organic meats, vegetables, organic dairy, healthy fats and oils, seeds, nuts, some fruits, and unprocessed sweeteners
  • Options available for Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Grain-Free
  • An organized grocery list is provided, as well as tips for getting food on the table quickly
  • Cost is $6 per month for the Classic, Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Grain-Free plans, or $8 per month for an All-Access plan which includes meal plans for all four categories.

Most of these services offer sample meal plans that you can try for a week or two before deciding to commit to a subscription or not. I tried the Fresh 20 Gluten-Free weekly sample plan and was really impressed with the quality and taste of the meals, as well as the ease involved in both shopping for the ingredients and preparing the meals. If you’re tired of stressing over dinner-time meals (what to make that’s healthy and delicious, and how to feed your family without breaking the bank), then I encourage you to try one of these meal planning services for at least a month and see if it doesn’t make a difference.

Happy Cooking!

 

 

 

 

Kids Won’t Eat Healthy Just Because You Tell Them To

Jannine Myers

I published a post recently about teenagers participating in short-term cleanses, and I advocated the advice of nutrition experts who suggested that a safer and more effective way to teach kids good nutrition habits is to model healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors. I want to expand on that concept a little further.

This summer, my younger daughter has been busy expending a ton of energy through the various sports that she’s been participating in (swim, dance, and gymnastics). In an effort to ensure that her body is being well-nourished, I’ve been including her in both the selection and preparation of our meals and snacks. Her involvement at the store and in the kitchen has made a huge difference in her willingness to try new foods and I’m convinced now that this is one of the best ways to turn a picky eater into a more health-conscious eater.

Modeling healthy eating behaviors is also important – I witnessed for example, the power of this just last week at the swimming pool. A mom was sitting beside me with her two younger daughters while her oldest was taking a swimming lesson. The two younger girls, aged approximately four and six, broke into the following conversation:

  • 6-year old: “Mom, can we have pizza tonight, I really want pizza!”
  • 4-year old: “Oh no, pizza is BAD! Mommy, don’t give us pizza.”
  • 6-year old: “But I like pizza, I want pizza!”
  • 4-year old: “No! We should eat like mommy. Mommy eats HEALTHY!”
  • 4-year old: “Mommy, you need to make us chicken, and wice, and bwoccoli!”

Role-modeling doesn’t work with every kid, but it does help to shape and influence children’s perceptions of food as they grow up, and with any luck they’ll eventually adopt healthier eating habits by the time they’re young adults.

So, two key points:

  1. Involve your kids in the food selection and preparation process
  2. Set the example

Here’s a recipe to get you and your kids started in the kitchen – it’s one that my daughter really enjoyed making and one that we all enjoyed eating:

Granola Cups

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Unsweeted Apple Sauce
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/3 Shredded Coconut
1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seed
1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds
1/4 Cup Dried Blueberries, Cranberries or other dried fruit1 cup fat free greek yogurt
Fruit of your choice for toppings: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana slices
Directions:
1. To a small sauce pan, add the coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, and salt.
Heat until all ingredients are combined. Remove from heat and stir in the apple sauce and vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl mix together the oats, coconut, flax seed, almonds and cranberries.
3. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until completely coated.
4. Place the mixture into the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool.
5. When ready to bake, grease up a muffin tin and fill each opening about 2/3 full.
Using your fingers press into the center of the hole and then work your way around the edges to form a bowl. If the dough is sticky, wet your fingers with cold water, shake them out, and proceed. Repeat as necessary.
6. Place the bowls into an oven preheated to 325 degrees. For regular sized muffin cups, cook about 20-25 minutes. For mini muffin cups, cook about 15-20 minutes.
Let cool completely before removing from the tin.
7. Store in an air tight container. When ready to eat, fill with the yogurt of your choice. Top with fresh fruit and enjoy!
Original Recipe Source here
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Making the granola cups – Step one
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The next morning: okay, so I cut her some slack and let her indulge in a few chocolate chips :)
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Delicious – and filling!

Don’t Throw Those Smooshy Over-Ripe Bananas Away!

TURN THEM INTO THESE:

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For a naturally sweetened and deliciously healthy snack that the kids will enjoy too, try this recipe.

Banana Chia Muffins (Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine ground sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup choc chips
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place your chia seeds and water in the blender and set aside to soak for about 5-7 mins.
  2. Into a large bowl, sift together flours, sea salt, baking soda and baking powder and set aside.
  3. If your coconut oil is solid, warm it in a saucepan over low heat until liquid. Add lemon juice, dates, vanilla and coconut oil to chia/water and blend until smooth.
  4. In another large bowl, mash 1 1/2 bananas with a fork. Chop the remaining 1/2 banana and set aside (you will fold in later).
  5. Add the blended chia mixture to the mashed banana. Fold in the flour mixture. Fold in nuts, choc chips, and remaining banana.
  6. Bake for 20-25 mins, or until a knife comes out clean.

Best eaten warm!

Taken from this recipe, and slightly modified.