You Can Run Pain Free

Jannine Myers

I’ve never before posted a book review on a book I’ve never read, so this is a first! The book You Can Run Pain Free, by Australian Physiotherapist Brad Beer, is an Amazon best-seller, and it’s on my “must-buy” book list. After hearing two separate interviews with Brad Beer, I am convinced that his book contains information that I’ll most likely be interested in reading.

You may have noticed that I’ve been focusing quite a bit lately on injury prevention; that’s because I’m getting older and aches and pains seem to be much more prevalent. I confess, that for the longest time I was content to just do my training runs and not give any time or attention to other supposedly necessary aspects of training, such as proper warm-ups and cool-downs, stretch sessions, or run-specific strength routines. As of late however, I’m determined to include all of those things, as well as educate myself on self-care techniques that seem to work well for others. So when I heard that Brad Beer has helped many recreational and professional runners recover from injuries and vastly improve their running by staying injury-free, I was eager to hear what he had to say.

Beer advocates a 5-step guide to running faster and without pain, and I’ll quickly touch on each:

1.Understand your running body

There are, according to Beer, three types of running bodies, at least in terms of genetic mobility:

  • Floppys – these are the runners who tend to have a lot of elasticity around their joints, and hence a much wider range of motion than the average person. When they run however, the increased movement in and around their joints may create greater instability and therefore a higher risk of injury.
  • Stiffys – no need to tell you who the stiffys are; you’ll know if you are one! Beer suggests that stiffys spend more time stretching than strengthening. Some strength exercises are obviously important, but the greater focus should be on regular stretching.
  • Flippys – and then there are the runners who are “normal” I guess; neither too floppy nor too stiff. You’ll need to read the book to see what Beer says about this group (he didn’t really talk about them, probably because they’re “normal”).

Once you understand your running body, says Beer, you’ll better understand how to maximize your time and focus on the specific exercises and preventative measures best suited for you.

2. Run with great technique 

Beer believes that running with great form and technique is a learned skill, and one that most runners are unaware of. It’s not until a runner actually sees him or herself running – on video, for example – that a more realistic perception of their running form is realized. The first step then, is to start with a video analysis.

A video analysis can reveal things like body posture while running, foot placement when landing, as well as cadence (number of times your foot strikes the ground per minute). These are all very important since running places such a huge load on the lower limbs. Take an hour-long run for example; at approximately 90 steps per minute per foot, that’s 5400 single leg hops!

The main things to keep in mind when attempting to run with great technique are the following:

  • Maintain a slightly forward lean; sounds obvious but a lot of runners tend to lean backwards as in the image below (from Beer’s website pogophysio). A backward lean is typically seen in runners who over-stride and end up with their foot landing in front of their body. The problem with over-striding is that it places the body in a position that goes against gravity, thereby slowing the runner down. Worse still, it creates a foot-strike with braking impact that over time can lead to injury (less than 90 steps per minute per foot is over-striding, so count your foot-strikes the next time you go out to run).

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  • Project body upwards and look straight ahead versus down at the ground (I made a conscious effort to practice this on my run yesterday and was surprised at how difficult it actually was).
  • Try to aim for a mid-foot landing; the best way to achieve a mid-to-forefoot landing is to get your cadence right, i.e. 90 steps per minute (you can read Brad’s explanation here)

3. Run in the best shoes for you!

It’s not really possible to identify which shoes are best for you without first establishing your body type and how your running technique is; do these things first and then seek advice from a shoe specialist.

4. Importance of hip stability

Hip stability has much to do with core stability and ensuring that all the muscles and rotators around the hips are nice and strong. Unfortunately, that is not the case with many runners, and hip instability is one of the most common contributing factors to running injuries. As runners bounce from side to side and eventually become fatigued, their pelvis collapses, creating an adverse effect down the entire length of the lower limbs.

The fire hydrant is a great starting point for building hip strength and stability; aim for 3 sets of 12 repetitions on each leg, and progress to 36 repetitions as competency is achieved.

5. Power of rest

Running tends to attract A-Type personalities, which means that there are lots of runners out there with “run-more-do-more” mentalities. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to work hard to achieve goals, but when rest is sacrificed there’s a greater risk of injury or illness occurring. The best way to reduce that risk is to follow training programs that include deliberate and planned recovery workouts between hard sessions, and if necessary, days of complete rest.

If you practice all five of these preventative measures, and apply the same level of dedication to them as you do to your running, Beer believes you will be able to enjoy pain-free and faster running.

To get your copy of Brad Beer’s book and learn more about his 5-step method, visit the Amazon store here.

 

Massage Track Review

Jannine Myers

I was recently asked to review a product by MassageTrack.com; they sell a full-body self-massage kit that includes what physical therapists might refer to as “self-myofascial release tools.” My initial images of the product, without seeing any pictures or reading a full description, were of rolling pins or sticks – much like the foam rollers and running sticks already out there on the market. But the Massage Track kit is quite unlike anything I have seen, and after viewing a couple of videos and reading other reviews, I was keen to try it.

The package arrived with the following components:

– Neck Track, Body Track, 8 Balls, Netted bags for storage, and a Demonstration Video

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I’ll go ahead and say right off the bat that what I have to say about it is mostly positive, with the exception of one negative, but let me first list all of the pros:

  • The Massage Track is cost-efficient and will save you money in the long-run. It will set you back around $125, but when you consider how much it costs to visit your local massage therapist, you’ll clearly make your money back in no time. It’s nicer of course to have a massage therapist work out all the knots for you, but its also nice to know that in between appointments you can relieve any muscle pain yourself.
  • As a constant sufferer of tight and achy muscles, this product could potentially be the best thing that’s happened to me. I never liked the foam roller I used to own; I was never able to master control over it and figure out how to use it in a way that felt like I was getting results. But with the Massage Track, I can easily position any achy part of my body directly over the massage balls – held securely in place by the body track – and apply exactly the amount of pressure that’s needed; it allows for a preciseness that’s lacking in foam rollers and running sticks.
  • The kit comes with four sets of two balls each, and each set differs in weight allowing for a graduated progression of therapy. In other words, as a beginner, you start with the lightest balls and the least amount of pressure, and slowly work your way up to the heavier balls that provide a deeper and more intense treatment. A greater amount of relief is experienced, since you are required to hold and apply pressure for a certain length of time, as opposed to “rolling” over the area.
  • It’s portable!!! You can take it anywhere; it packs up easily into the netted bags and takes up little room.

With all that said, I have been using the Massage Track all week to reduce pain in my right upper back and shoulder area and also in my right hip and lower back area. I have been doing the recommended 12 second “beginner” holds, and will eventually extend the length of hold time to 60 seconds. For now, 12 seconds is about all I can tolerate, yet it’s all I need to get some temporary but immediate relief. I feel confident that if I can get myself into the habit of using the Massage Track daily, and if I can train myself to become proficient in using it, that it really will make a difference in my overall performance, recovery, and general well-being.

And that leads me to the one negative I mentioned earlier; the only fault I could find with the Massage Track (and it’s not really a product fault, but more of a human fault), is that it may not appeal to athletes like myself who dislike spending additional time on preventative training and therapies. I have a real aversion to stretching, foam rolling, yoga, dynamic warm-ups and cool-downs, and basically anything that forces me to slow down and restore my body; I can’t explain why except that I just don’t enjoy those things the way I enjoy actual training and working out.

However, I do believe that this product will absolutely benefit anyone who, as the website states, wishes to “get great relief from generic aches and pains, treat repetitive strain injury, and accelerate workout recovery.”

For more information on the Massage Track, and where to purchase from, visit their website here. And for a quick video demo, check out this one below that shows how to relieve pain in the upper and lower back:

 

 

 

Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Jacket Review

Jannine Myers

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My latest piece of trail running apparel is the new Ultimate Direction Women’s Ultra Jacket, and I love it! Designed to withstand harsh wet and cold weather conditions, it’s perfect for any mountain ultra race or for day-to-day use during the winter and rainy months. Check out my review below:

For further information, go to Ultimate Directions website and search their Wearable Gear.

With regards to the military discount, here is the reply I received from one of the members of the Customer Support Team: “If any members of your group work in outdoor retail or an emergency/military/firefighter profession we do offer pro-deals. The application for those can be found at the bottom of our website.”

As mentioned in the video above, don’t delay in buying this jacket if you think it’s a piece of trail gear you’d like to own. Ultimate Direction currently has a low volume of inventory and I’m not sure if they will be replacing the jackets once they’re all sold.

Meb’s Strength Exercises – Part I

Jannine Myers

I read Meb Keflezighi’s book a few months ago; it’s called Meb For Mortals, and it covers what Meb believes are the key components of successful marathon training. One of the chapters is devoted to strength training and Meb shares why he believes it’s one of the most important things a runner should do. Like Meb, I also believe that strength training is critical, and especially for females since we are more prone to osteoporosis than men.

I think one of the main reasons that many female runners don’t do much strength training is because they’re reluctant to spend additional time – outside of running – working out at the gym. That’s why I like Meb’s approach to strength training; he chooses to do exercises that a) are most beneficial for running efficiency, injury and age prevention, and fat loss, b) can be done at home, in minimal time, and c) require minimal, if any, equipment. Strength training for runners does not have to involve pushing multiple sets of heavy weights; on the contrary, a few daily calisthenic-type exercises is all that’s needed.

To demonstrate what a “brief” daily strength routine might look like, I’ll show you some of Meb’s exercises in the videos below; keep in mind that you would need to do at least 10 to 20 repetitions of each exercise shown.

Check out next week’s post for Meb’s Strength Exercises – Part II

Book Recommendation: We Run Up!

Jannine Myers

I’ve noticed lately that when I head out to run, I often start to visualize the hills on my route; I see them in my mind before I literally see them. I count them all out, and assess the degree of difficulty of each one. Then, as each hill comes into sight, I start a little mental dialog in hopes of producing a strong and steady surge upwards. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

A book I read recently made me realize however, that my mental approach to tackling the hills is all wrong. For one, I spend way too much time thinking about and anticipating the hills ahead of me; that not only cheats me of a relaxing and enjoyable run but it also makes me vulnerable. Second, I need to embrace the hills and look forward to seeing them; the idea of them may at times be intimidating or unappealing, but I should focus instead on the physical (and non-tangible) rewards that they offer.

We Run Up, written by father and daughter Dennis Reeder and Andrea Sayers, is a fantastic compilation of lessons learned from their weekly hill runs together. I highly recommend this book if you think your thought process – while running – could use a little positive redirection, or if you’d simply enjoy a fresh perspective on the value of hill running, and running in general. Without giving too much away, here are a few excerpts and quotes (my thoughts in blue):

  • “Focus on this moment, this round, and let the other hills take their turn, when it is their turn.” – I love this because I tend to saturate my thoughts with all the hills ahead of me, which is far more overwhelming than focusing on just one hill – or one section of a hill – at a time.
  • The life lesson: “…when you feel crushed under the weight of numerous problems, remember that all these things viewed as a whole can feel very daunting, but when separated out and focused on individually, they will be more manageable and less overwhelming. Problems filled your plate one at a time and can be most effectively removed in the same manner.”

 

  • “Belief is the catalyst that gets us started and the motor that keeps us moving.” – this is a prime example of how my thought patterns can influence either a successful hill run or one that fails. Allowing even a little doubt to enter my mind can significantly impact my performance. If hills are not new to me, and if I know I am capable of running them, then the only belief I should confidently uphold is that my legs and lungs are strong and hills don’t scare me.
  • The life lesson: “Only my belief can produce the drive and persevering power I need to achieve my dreams…..if we do not believe our dream can come true, then we will not waste our time acting on it. It is when we start acting on our dream or dreams that our belief is demonstrated and things start moving.”

 

  • “What we overcome is often more important than what we accomplish. It is in the patient struggle of the seed pushing through the soil that makes breaking through a triumph.” – this makes me think of hill repeats, and how I focus solely on the countdown. All I can think about is that final repeat, and being done with the workout; I want it over with, NOW! Maybe I need learn to what it is to be patient and persevering, and to enjoy the discomfort of each aspect of the workout, since the true reward comes not from completing the workout, but from pushing through, repeat after repeat.
  • The life lesson: “Do not let accomplishment become a ‘Holy Grail.'” – joy can be felt throughout life, not just at the moments when accomplishments are achieved. It’s up to us whether we choose to revel in the process, or miss the joy because we’re too focused on getting to the end.

 

  • “If we always do what we have always done; we will always get what we have always gotten.” – we can’t expect the hills to produce results for us if we run the same hills, with the same strength and speed, week after week after week. 
  • The life lesson: “Like a boat drifting with the current, it is easy to go through life on autopilot, reactively moving through our hills and valleys without realizing that we are drifting off course from our goals. We may find ourselves falling into old conditioned patterns because that is what feels comfortable. Success in life (as in running), comes with focused effort. Where your focus goes, your energy flows – where your energy flows determines your direction. Your direction determines your destination. Your destination determines your quality of life.”

we run up

Great stories and life lessons, as well as beautiful photography throughout! Get your copy now from Amazon.com

Book Review: Running For Health And Happiness

Jannine Myers

jason fitzgerald

 

Like other resource books for runners – such as “Runners World Complete Book of Running,” and “Marathon:The Ultimate Training Guide” – this is a book that aims to provide new runners with everything they need to know about taking safe and progressive steps towards their running goals.

 

With a focus on improved running performance and injury-prevention, Fitzgerald attempts to identify common mistakes that runners make as they try to get stronger and faster. He claims for example, that the reason so many runners get hurt is that they fail to recognize that metabolic changes take place faster than structural changes. Hence a runner’s improved level of fitness may be stunted by a weaker structural system. Fitzgerald explains how such imbalances can be corrected by incorporating short dynamic warm-up and cool-down routines, as well as specific injury-prevention exercises, all of which can be found either in his book or on his website.

 

Another point heavily emphasized in this book, is the idea that the “10% increase” rule is too limiting for most runners. Fitzgerald believes that a far more effective approach to improving both endurance and speed is to focus instead on consistently running the same mileage over a period of time, and then adding, for example, an additional day of running – even if that means more than a 10% increase in overall mileage.

 

Other viewpoints expressed in this book are well justified and explained, and backed up by testimonials of runners who have experienced pain-free and faster running as a result of following Fitzgerald’s advice. Fitzgerald himself, suffered a serious ITB injury in 2008, after finishing the New York marathon in 2:44. A subsequent six month absence from the running world forced him to question his views on previous training methods, and thus his current training philosophy was birthed from that period of reflection. Since developing the Strength Running program in 2010 and applying it to his own training routine, Fitzgerald has only had one injury, and he also ran a 5+minute PR of 2:39:32 at the Philadelphia Marathon in 2011.

 

In reading the promotional excerpts about this book, one gets the sense that readers will be able to acquire the kind of information that cuts to the chase of what beginner runners really want to know about faster and pain-free running. For new runners, I would certainly recommend this book; it will take away a lot of the guesswork for you in terms of how to set safe and realistic goals. For more experienced runners, I’d suggest that you give this book a try; I have a feeling you’ll be as surprised as I was and you may even find yourself pulling out pen and paper to scribble down a note or two.

 

[Fitzgerald is also a USA Track and Field certified coach, co-founder of Run Your BQ, and contributor to various publications such as Active, Competitor Magazine, and Daily Burn]

Book Review: The Way Of The Wellbeing

Jannine Myers

We run, and we train hard, but attempting to become stronger and faster runners also requires that we take care of ourselves when we’re not running. I read a book recently (written actually, by a New Zealander who I am acquainted with via a mutual Facebook group), that aims to guide readers towards a lifestyle of “wellness.”

Delivered from a completely holistic perspective, The Way of the Wellbeing, by Tricia Alach, addresses the obstacles to achieving health and happiness in a modern and busy world. Alach labels those who have already learned to integrate health and happiness into their lives as Wellbeings, explaining that they are different because the intentions behind their actions, not the actions themselves, set them apart.

For example, some of the characteristics that Wellbeings have in common, and which make me want to be a Wellbeing, include the following:

  • They have little emotional attachment to outcomes; they are happy regardless of their achievements, not because of them.
  • They integrate good health into their lifestyles, rather than separate it; they believe that health and happiness is the foundation upon which all other things can be built.
  • They trust their instincts over intellect.
  • They honor their bodies, minds, and spirits, making sure not to devote time to one while neglecting the others.

What I love about this book, is that it comes with not only well-expressed views and reasons, based on both professional and personal experience, but also practical tips that could really help a person make the lifestyle changes they’ve always wanted to make, but never have.

People want to make positive changes, implies Alach, but too often they become overwhelmed by the scope of what they ultimately hope to accomplish. In such cases, most give up because they failed to line their thoughts up with their actions. The first and most important step, says Alach, is the one that takes place in the mind.

While I really enjoyed reading Alach’s book, there were some sections that I skimmed over because they either didn’t apply to my own personal circumstances, or because I had slightly different views. But that’s what’s so great about this book; Alach recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and happiness, and she encourages readers to select and utilize only the information and strategies that they feel is relevant to their personalities and situations.

I recommend this short, but insightful book, to anyone who wants to improve their quality of life, and I love a quote that Alach shared, which I believe sums up the essence of her message:

  • If you do not change, you may end up in the direction you’re going – Lao Tzu

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Want to read this book for free?

Tricia Alach is making it available to download for FREE next Tuesday 7th April as part of World Health Day (midnight to midnight Pacific time). In return, she’d appreciate you leaving a review on Amazon, even if it’s not 5 stars :)

 

Review Of The Buddy Pouch

Jannine Myers

Several weeks ago one of my former clients asked me about the possibility of reviewing a product that she had seen at a race expo, a product called the Buddy Pouch. My first thought, when I saw pictures of it, was that it was similar to the various types of running belts that are sold with zip-up pouches, and since I am not a fan of running belts I wasn’t impressed. Upon closer inspection however, I realized that the pouch had no belt attached, and so I agreed to test the product and write up a review on it.

I contacted the company that sells the Buddy Pouches – therunningbuddy.com – and they generously agreed to send me their medium size pouch to test and review (thank you Katey Warren). Below is a summary of the pouch specifications, and my thoughts after running with it:

  • Dimensions: 6” L x 4” W
  • Water-resistant inner pocket
  • Made with dri-fit material; keeps everything dry and sweat-free
  • Made to fit most popular phones, including the iPhone 6™ and Samsung Galaxy S V™
  • Available in Black, Black/Yellow, and Black/Pink

The Buddy Pouch has a back flap, which slides down the backside of your waistband, while the pouch sits on the front side and secures itself with powerful magnets that are built into the material. Since it has no belt or band, it should, in theory, not bounce.

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The morning I ran with my pouch, I decided to load it up with my phone (yes, that is an old-school flip phone you see; I’ll upgrade one day………), two Hammer gels, my ID card, and my house key.

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The pouch, stocked with several items, felt a little heavy and bulky at first, and my immediate assumption was that even if it didn’t bounce it would still feel uncomfortable. To be honest, it did feel uncomfortable when I first started running, but that was because I realized that the magnets were not aligned on one side of the pouch. Once I readjusted the pouch so that all the magnets were aligned, it felt much more secure – though still not entirely comfortable.

I started my run downhill and although there was no bouncing, I was initially bothered by the bulky feeling – that is, until I settled into a steady pace and actually forgot that I was wearing it at all. A couple of miles into my run, I reached a hill and proceeded to do a series of hill repeats, all the while still unbothered by the pouch sitting on my waistband.

After completing my hill repeats I made my way back home, and ironically, my cellphone started ringing. I never take my phone with me on runs (since I have no way of carrying it), and even though I only took it with me that morning for the sole purpose of testing my new Buddy Pouch, I did not anticipate anyone calling me at 7am in the morning. As it turned out, the call was relatively urgent, so my Buddy Pouch earned itself a bonus rating point!

All in all, I’d say the Buddy Pouch is a reasonable product that would suit runners who don’t want to carry their items in a belt bag, but who would prefer a storage option that’s larger than clothing and other accessory-type pockets. The Buddy Pouch is also very versatile, in that it can be adapted to other non-running functions and activities (cycling, walking, gardening, shopping, traveling, etc.), and it comes in two other sizes. Compared to other similar products, the price is competitive and shipping to Stateside addresses is fast and free.

Check out all of the Running Buddy’s products here, and leave a comment if you already own a Buddy Pouch.

Review of the S-Lab Exo Twinskin Skort

One of our many awesome WOOT runners, Corinne, came in first at Kunigami trail race in December. One of the sponsors is Salomon and the cool thing about winning, is you get stuff from the sponsors. She wrote up the following review on the running skirt or skort she received as part of her winnings. Congratulations, Corinne and thanks for the review!

Review of the S-Lab Exo Twinskin Skort

WOOT Runner #1

WOOT Runner #1

I desperately wanted to love this skirt! For 3 months I had been hinting to my husband that this is would be the perfect Christmas present.  At $150 this should be the ultimate skirt, but the problems with it just kept multiplying. 
skirt review
The size I received was a medium. I usually wear a small or medium. The first problem that I noticed is that the center seam is situated perfectly up the center line, giving a nice camel-toe effect. Which is fine as long as the skirt doesn’t fly up. Also, I would have preferred the waistline to come up a half-an-inch higher. As a woman who has had a child, I have a bit of extra skin that makes a little pooch that I’d like to tuck in a higher waistline, or at least have a lower waistline the does not highlight this pooch. But, this skirt is high in the back and lower in the front, exposing a bit more belly than I like. Another design flaw is the color. White inner lining in white shorts of a very thin fabric! I planned on wearing this skort during an 85k trail race in the forests of New Zealand. I don’t want to stress out the whole time about being a gross mess by the end! And, God forbid, what if I were start my period out on a long run!
Loved the compression skirt while running in it! I wore it (the one and only time) on a New Year’s Eve Marathon with friends. The compression shorts hugged my thighs and derriere very nicely. The posture control was surprisingly supportive. The fabric was light weight and oh, so comfortable. Luckily, the skirt never blew up revealing anything inappropriate. 
After the run, I washed the skirt by itself on cold in washing machine on gentle cycle, then air dried it. The dirt came out very nicely and the shorts were bright white again. But, the final complaint was the stitching. With one wash the stitching already started to unravel! 
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coming undone after first wash!

For the price, this should have been the greatest running skirt ever! But, there were one too many design flaws, so it had to be sent back before it just ended up at the back of my dresser drawers.

Nicciola For Nutella Junkies

Jannine Myers

Are you a Nutella junkie? And a runner? If you answered yes to both these questions, keep reading. You’ll be pleased to know that your favorite combination of Hazelnut and Chocolate has been mindfully put together in a Hammer gel formula that will not only give you all the endurance you need, but also the same amazing taste experience as a huge spoonful of Nutella.

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Some of you may be wondering, “Why not go straight for the Nutella?” Surely it has similar nutrition components, or at least enough sugar to provide a decent burst of energy. You’re right – it has plenty of sugar. In fact, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a leading obesity expert and physician at the University of Ottawa and Bariatric Medical Institute, explains that two tablespoons of Nutella (one serving size), has approximately 5.5 teaspoons of sugar. That converts to around 22g of sugar, and that’s in addition to the 21g of sugar that is already naturally present in Nutella. Compare that with just 25g total sugar in Hammer’s new Hazelnut gel (called Nocciola – pronounced “No-CHO-la”).

Here’s two more comparisons:

  • Nutella fat content 12g (per serving) versus 2.5g fat in Nicciola
  • Nutella sodium content 15mg (per serving) versus 40mg sodium in Nicciola

Interested in trying Nicciola? Buy now from Hammer and get your supply before Christmas! And, as an added bonus, try using Nicciola in other creative ways, such as these – suggested by other athletes:

  • a pancake or waffle syrup
  • an ice cream topping
  • over bacon
  • with a banana
  • an oatmeal sweetener

Or, do what I did and make a hazelnut granola:

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup “extra dark” cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, ginger, and cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 packets Hammer Hazelnut-Chocolate gel (Nicciola)
  • 2 tbsps agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor until roughly chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended. Spoon mixture onto a baking tray and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Let cool, then store in an airtight container. Serve with organic yogurt and fresh or frozen berries.