Sunday, March 2, 2014

Updated Banana Bread Recipe

I have been using an updated banana bread recipe that I thought I'd share. I make this every Sunday morning as a higher protein option before church.

Gluten Free Banana Bread
2 eggs
3 Ripe Bananas
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup maple syrup, honey or sugar
1 tablespoon Baking Powder (I mix my own)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 cup Jarrow Formulas Brown Rice Protein or more buckwheat flour
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional: I use these chips or these chunks )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make my life easy, I put the eggs, water, and bananas in a blender and blend them thoroughly. I dump that into a bowl. If you don't have a blender, you can just mash the bananas with a fork and beat the eggs with a fork.

I measure 1/4 cup oil and then 1/4 cup maple syrup in the same 1/4 cup measure. The oil lines the cup and the maple syrup comes out easily. Mix briefly.

Add dry ingredients and mix well. Dump into an 8-inch round pan that has been greased. Bake about 40 minutes.

I also started using my bread machine when we were living in a hotel last year. I still use the blender, dump the blender stuff into the bread machine pan, add the rest of the ingredients except the chips, and let the machine do the work. There is a 2-hour quick bread setting (this will vary based on your machine). I add the chips 1 minute before it stops stirring (again, will vary). The above picture was made in the bread machine.

Another side note - one reason I like using buckwheat flour is because it does not require an additional gum to hold together.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Whole30 Challenge

Hello to my blog readers!

I am doing the Whole30 Challenge and realized a lot of my recipes already fit the criteria.

If you've not heard of the Whole30 challenge, you can read about it here. Basically you commit to 30 days of whole, non-inflammatory foods like meat, veggies, fruit and nuts.

I know I have lots of people who come here and look for recipes and figured I'd start compiling the recipes for Whole30 in one place.

More posts to come!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Baltimore Marathon 2013: Marathon #2

Last year, I registered to run the Baltimore Marathon to raise money and awareness concerning child sex trafficking. We were in the process of a move to the area - a move that did not happen as quickly as anticipated.

I ran Hartford Marathon instead and deferred Baltimore - just in case.

I did not plan on running a marathon this year. As of August, my longest training run was 13 miles, and that was in May. Not exactly stellar training.

I met a woman in my running club who was running Baltimore. I thought maybe we could run in together. We did a training run together in September: 16.5 miles. And then I did a solo 20 miler.

Ready for a marathon? Just really sure - but I was going to do it!

The week of the marathon, she decided to go all out and try and hit a personal goal of hers which was out of my range. I thought I'd try and run with the pace group aiming for a 4:30 marathon.

Can I just stop and say I loved this marathon? The whole thing is basically in the city (here is the course map). Over the course of 26.2 miles, you travel through beautiful parks with lakes and rundown neighborhoods with boarded-up buildings. I loved that. I loved the homeless guy who ran a couple blocks with us and the street preacher who warned us about the end of the world. I loved the people taking iPad videos of us out their apartment windows. The crowd support was consistent throughout, more so than any other race I've done. It was just an all-around great race.

Back to my race :) I ran with the 4:30 pace group for 11 miles, but lost them after a pit stop. 

This marathon is hilly. It was painful. I swore I'd never do it again. Did I mention it was hilly? My quads hated me for days after. The last 6.2 miles felt like 10+. My stomach did OK, with some painful cramps around mile 14, but the salt pills seemed to help. I also kept fueling simple: water, a LaraBar and organic jelly beans (not sports beans - actual jelly beans).

I eventually settled with the 4:45 pace group and finished just ahead of them for a final time of 4:45:12 (I started in front of them - hence the difference).

This was a 13 minute PR from Hartford.

Here I am, smiling at my family as I crossed the finish line.

Trying desperately to smile at the end, blue lips and all:

The Medal

And now I surf the web for other local marathons to run......I seemed to have caught the bug :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's Fermenting Season!

Some of my favorite fermenting options are in season right now, and that means it's time to ferment!

We were in upstate NY this weekend for my father's celebration of life service, and I popped into a little unmanned farmstand to see what was available.

Cukes were 4/$1 and blueberries were $3/pint. I also snagged a bag of dragon beans for $3 and a bunch of large patty pan squash for 2/$1. I did not buy any summer squash because I didn't know if it was GMO (it's a common GMO item).

Using a combination of items from my CSA, from a little farmstand in upstate NY, our garden, and a couple of items from the store, I came up with this:

Store items:
Organic carrots: $.65
Organic dill: $2.99 (I used all of it, but I went a bit overboard!)

CSA items:
2 heads garlic

Garden items:
2 red peppers

Cucumbers: $2
Beans: $3 (didn't use them all)

Miscellaneous items:
Sea salt

Not too bad for under $10! 

We didn't try to grow much in our garden this season, but I'll be doing a jar of pickles from our garden as well soon! That's if Chuckie the pilferer doesn't get them first! He seems more interested in tomatoes. 

Have you been fermenting this season?

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Open My Hands" by Sara Groves

"Open My Hands"
by Sara Groves

I believe in a blessing I don't understand
I’ve seen rain fall on wicked and the just
Rain is no measure of His faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain
That broken find healing in love
Pain is no measure of His faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I will open my hands, 
will open my heart
I will open my hands, 
will open my heart
I am nodding my head
an emphatic "yes"
To all that You have for me

I believe in a fountain
that will never dry
Though I've thirsted
and didn't have enough
Thirst is no measure of His faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us

I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic "yes"
To all that You have for me

No good thing from us
No good thing from us
He withholds no good thing from us

I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic "yes"
To all that You have for me

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Perseverance and Patience

Life is hectic, friends. New job, training for that job, a very heavy semester at grad school - everything else has to be minimized and/or pushed to the side.

Like running. And writing.

I desperately miss both.

Life feels hard right now. Maybe it's grief (my father passed away November 9th), or the move, or the location change, or the classes I chose this semester.

But I'm drained. And tired. That kind of fatigue that creeps into your bones and lingers.

Running is therapeutic for me. Something happens on my long runs of 13+ miles. At a certain point, my mind completely clears. Nothing matters anymore. Nothing seems too difficult. Life becomes manageable.

I have not experienced that feeling since September. That was my last training run of 13+ miles. The farthest I've gone since the marathon is 12 miles.

I've shared before that I've been having some trouble with my legs for some time now. I remember exactly when it started. March 16th, driving home from an early St. Patrick's Day breakfast. It began as excruciating pain in my right hip and inner knee. My husband said he'd never seen me in such pain (which is saying a lot, considering we saw me through an unmedicated homebirth).

Through several rounds of PT, visits to the doctor, and rest days galore, the pain moved from my hip to behind my knees. It's stayed there. Sometimes coming around front, but mostly hanging out in the back of the knee(s).

So, I've been doing cross-training. Spin class, interval training, walking, elliptical, and most recently Piloxing (a combo of Pilates and boxing). One of my strength training teachers told me that due to my legs being different lengths and my severe hip weakness, running is setting me up to need hip replacement.

Not really what a runner wants to hear.

Yet I cannot escape the fact that I am a runner. I will likely never place in a race (unless I'm 80). I'll always be a mid-to-back-of-the-packer.

But I'm still a runner. I've become one. Through and through.

The day after I was told I'll likely eventually need hip replacement, I ran 8 speedy miles with friends. One mile was 8:28. The cross-training is making me stronger; for that, I'm thankful. But it's difficult to avoid discouragement.

I'm going to try some new things. A new strength and stretching routine. A training plan with less running that is more concentrated. Some dietary tweaks. We'll see if anything helps.

Despite the challenges, I have had some beautiful runs. Just a bit shorter :) I'm enjoying running in new territory, making new routes, learning new places.

See the deer?

I'd love prayers as well. I've experienced miraculous healing before. I'm certainly open to God doing that again.

More than anything, as always, I deeply desire that God be glorified.

My psalm this year is Psalm 25. Verses 4 & 5 are literally carrying me these days. I encourage you to read them out loud with me.

Show me your ways, O Lord,
    teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

All day long, Lord. All day long.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Cost of Homemade vs Store-bought Sauerkraut

I have been without a food processor since our move here to Virginia.  Ours was acting up in Boston in that it would turn on all by itself (dangerous!), so we left it behind.

Since we lived for over a month in a hotel with limited food and kitchen options, I decided it was imperative that we eat quality, raw, fermented vegetables to keep our gut flora active and healthy.

This meant I needed to buy them from the store.

Thankfully, the Wegmans here has an amazing natural food section, including whole food gluten-free options and raw fermented foods.

We absolutely fell in love with this Wild Brine Madras Curry Cauliflower Sauerkraut Salad. It is amazing! We also had already had Bubbies Sauerkraut several time, and knew it was quality.

Cost? $6.99 for each, both jars less than a quart.


For Christmas, I received a new food processor (yes!), and decided to do a cost comparison of the money saved by making my own sauerkraut, as I made a batch recently.

Supplies I purchased for this batch of sauerkraut:
2 pounds of red cabbage
7 pounds of green cabbage
4 carrots
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic

Stuff I had on hand:
Sea Salt
Yellow curry
Caraway seeds

JJ thinks fermenting is fun!

Here is the per cup cost of the store-bought kraut:
$2.54/cup for Organic Curry Cauliflower Sauerkraut (2 3/4 cups @ $6.99)
$2.09/cup for Bubbies Sauerkraut (3 1/3 cups @ $6.99)

Here is what I purchased to make my kraut:
Red Cabbage: $1.50 (all @ $.79/pound)
Green Cabbage: $5.60 (1 1/3 heads @ $.79/pound)
Organic Carrots: $.46 (4 carrots out of a package of 20 @ $2.29)
Onion: $.15 (1/2 onion, 10 onions in 3 lb bag @ $2.99)
Garlic: $.13 (about 4 cloves)
Spices: $1.50 (4 T curry: $.50, 10 T sea salt: $.50, 2 t dill $.25, 1 T caraway seeds: $.25)

Total cost: $9.34

Wow. This made 5 1/2 quarts.

"Take my picture again!"
Per cup cost for the homemade kraut? 42 cents.

A couple of things to factor in:
Spices: The cost of spices is approximate. If you had to buy the individual spices, the cost would be more (Wegmans has small containers of spices in the natural foods section for $1.99/spice). You could also just make plain kraut with sea salt which would cut down the cost of spices and ingredients.

Organic Vs. Conventional: I wanted to do this experiment with organic cabbage, cauliflower, etc., but I do not have a Whole Foods close enough to get them.  The cabbage used in the curry kraut by Wild Brine was organic, but all the other ingredients were conventional. I did buy organic carrots (a preference of mine), but given that cabbage is on the Clean 15 list (conventional produce that is the "cleanest" after washing in terms of pesticide residue), I'm not too concerned about it.

Tools: My new food processor is fairly typical and cost about $100. Our last one cost about $50 and lasted 10 years. If you don't have a food processor, a typical cheese grater would work fine. That would cost you about $10 at or Walmart. The jars cost about $1.50 a piece this time of year, but you can get them for less than $1 during canning season.

Time: Some people might factor in time. If you're super busy or don't enjoy projects like this, you may ask, is it worthwhile for me to spend the time making this myself?  This might take about an hour to make, up to an hour and a half. It depends on how many varieties you are making (I made 4 different types of kraut).

Still, is it worth it to make your own sauerkraut, if you have the time and the resources? Absolutely. Even if you have to purchase tools to make it happen, you can easily make up the difference within a couple of years, if that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Life After A Marathon

On October 13th, I completed my first marathon.

I trampled on child sex trafficking by raising (to date) $3371.85 for Happy Horizons Children's Ranch in the Philippines. I trained for over 4 months for that marathon, with about a year of training before that.

I wanted to share some issues I've faced since the big race and before.

Maintaining Injury-free Fitness
In March, I started having severe pain in my right leg (mostly a burning in my hip). I went to the doc, to a physical therapist, to another doctor, to a different physical therapist with no relief.  I did find out there is nothing structurally wrong with me: no bursitis or anything like that.

I knew before I completed the marathon that something in my fitness routine needed to change.  I did start cross-training, doing some spin classes and using the elliptical.  I also lowered my mileage. Despite this, the pain increased, move down my leg to knee and a bit in my shin.

I can run through the pain.  I'm not really getting too much faster, but it's not really affected my speed.  But as I told someone last week, I want to still be able to run when I'm 60 (or 90 if I'm still kicking!). I don't want to just power through it and end up unable to run.

I have taken my sweet time getting back into running post-marathon. We left for Virginia 5 days post-marathon and have been staying in a hotel.  After a week of no running (except for that day when I almost missed the train), I've been slowly easing back into both the elliptical, treadmill running, and trail-running (W & OD, baby!). The feet platforms of the hotel elliptical seem a bit awkwardly placed.  I'm realizing they hurt my knee as well.

So until I can get to a sports medicine doctor, I plan on being very consistent in doing my stretches and strengthening exercises.

Weight Maintenance
Racing makes me gain weight, and I'm up almost 8 lbs from my weight a couple of months ago.  8 lbs is not a ton, but it's enough to make even my looser pants tights.

I am feeling out of shape. Living in a hotel with limited cooking facilities does not help! They also provide meals that aren't always healthy. But I can't use that as an excuse.

When I went back to Boston last week, I returned with my Blendtec (yay!) and bread machine.  I also brought back my bathroom scale and my Weight Watchers food scale.

You all know I am a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers.  I'm also an employee.  I know what to do to get back on track. It's simply a matter of putting what I know into practice during an emotionally challenging time.

What's Next?
The last thing I've been pondering is: what's next?  What does one do after completing a marathon? What's my next goal?

I don't race much.  Over the past year, I've only raced 1 10K (I'm not counting fun runs) and 3 half marathons.  I think I'm going to try and run some 5K and 10K's, starting (hopefully!) with a Thanksgiving 10K I ran last year.  I think living so close to the amazing W & OD trail will help me train in that regard.

Today's Green Smoothie

I'm getting down to business, people!  Who's with me?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

ING Hartford Marathon Race Recap: Trample On for the Kids!

This is the ING Hartford Marathon Race Recap.

I decided to run this marathon in order to raise funds and awareness concerning child sex trafficking.  On race morning, we had almost hit our 2nd goal of $3275 ($125/mile run) over at

I found out on Friday morning that the weather was likely going to be about 34 degrees at race time.  Training all summer for a fall marathon had not prepared me for this.  I ran to the basement to try and dig up some winter running clothes.  I also made my family go pick me up some $1 gloves while I was at a speaking engagement Friday morning.

After the engagement, we went to the XL Center in Hartford to pick up my race packet.

It was nice to see LaraBar and Food Should Taste Good there, as well as Navitas Natural (all things my kids can eat!).  We then went and stayed at a friend's house about 30 minutes from Hartford.

I woke up early on race morning to have breakfast and get ready.  I wanted to read something, but wasn't sure what.  I remembered that my friend Heather had suggested, about a week before when I was feeling discouraged about something not marathon-related, I might find Psalm 56 helpful. This is what I read in the translation I had open on my Bible app:

Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me. 
My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?

I cried.  I didn't even know the term "trampling" was in the Bible! And yet, I choose "Trample On" to be my theme for fundraising.  I thought, This is why I run today, that those whose lives have been trampled on by man can find hope. Jesus, be my strength.

We got there early and parked, and after several port-a-potty stops, it was time to line up.

I decided to take a screen shot of the weather on my phone before I handed it over (I didn't run with the phone).


Ready to go!

Kids not all that happy about getting up in the dark before 6 AM!

Am I yawning already?

I hung out with the 4:20 pace group (that's total running time, about a 10-minute mile), since the race predictor had me at 4:13.  I hoped to do between 4:20 & 4:30 if nothing went wrong.

And we were off!

As I've said before, running is almost always hard for me.  Even with tapering and barely running for the last 3 weeks, it felt hard from the beginning.

My family caught a glimpse of me at mile 5.  I was SO happy to see them!

I was already hurting, so it was great to see familiar faces.

This is what my kids did for at least 2 hours of the race:

They slept :) Understandable since we dragged them out of bed so early.

Around mile 7, I decided to try and take off the long-sleeve shirt I was wearing under my Trample On tank.  I ran for about a mile like that, but it was too cold.  In this process, I lost the pace group.  I tried to catch back up, but it felt like too much.

I reminded myself, This is my race. Not the pace guy's race, not any of my running club friends' race.  It's my race, and if I need to slow down, I will.

Everything in my body started to really hurt.  Not only did my legs hurt, it was so cold I kept coughing very painful coughs, as if my lungs and throat had freezer burn. I was dehydrated, even though I had my water belt and was taking 1-2 cups of water at every water stop.

I desperately wanted to stop.

I thought of the kids, and I convinced myself to keep running until mile 10.  Then the stomach upset began. I decided to look for a port-a-potty around mile 12-13.

They say running is mostly mental.  They are right.

I had done all I knew to prepare.  And yet the running was torture.  This is part of why I wanted to try & run with a pace group.  If I allow myself to run too slow, it's actually harder than pushing myself to run a faster pace.  I kept just talking myself into going another mile.

I was so happy to cross the halfway mark (13.1 miles) at about 2:16.  Even though I was in pain and my stomach was upset, crossing the halfway point made me feel as if I could really do it.  I remember happily jumping over the chip timer (though not too high), knowing my family would be getting a message that I was still on my marathon journey.

At mile 15, I started experiencing shortness of breath. I wasn't sure what to do.   One of my secret fears was that something would happen to me while running.  I did have an eating disorder and had some trouble with my heart at one point.  I thought of the Schiebers. I do not know these people (they are friends of friends), but Sarah lost her husband and the father of her 3 kids Chad when he died running the 2007 Chicago Marathon.

I did not want to quit.  I wanted to finish - for the kids.  But I also was scared.

I decided to walk.

I decided I could walk 11.2 miles if that's what needed to happen.  I knew I could do that.  My health was not worth trying to get to the finish line at a specific time.

So I walked for a while.  I started running again slowly.  I would run through the chorus of a song playing on the iPod, and then I'd walk again.  After a while, I felt as if I could take a full breath again, so I challenged myself to try and run a mile.

After this point, I'd run a mile and then run/walk the next mile.  I was starving, so I focused on consuming a gel and some more of my energy chews, as well as chugging water every chance I got.

I got to mile 20 - another moment of joy!  Only a 10 K left! You can see my pace, which was 10:26 at the half, was now 10:57.  I didn't even care.  My stomach was getting more upset from the chews/gel and the water (this is within the realm of normal for me), so I found another pit stop.  I continued to run a mile and run/walk the next mile.

I did this until mile 23, at which point I saw the 5:00 pace team.  I decided I would try and run the final 3.2 with them, since I hoped to run the last 2.2 anyway.

We ran on some roads and eventually got to the bridge back into Hartford, which we ran over out of town toward the beginning of the race.

Oh, what a beautiful sight the city was!

Then the shortness of breath came back full force.  I was less than 2/3rds of a mile from the end (I asked the pace leader).

I decided, once again, to walk.

I watched the pace team take off in front of me.  Honestly, I didn't care that much.  My pride wanted to run the whole thing anyway, so that I could say I did, but clearly, my body was not up for it.  I continued to walk for a little while, and then alternate running and walking as I had before.

When I got a bit closer to the end, I decided I could handle a continuous slow jog.  I really wanted to run across the finish line.  I turned the corner, saw the end, saw the clock said 5:00:08.  Then I stopped looking at the clock and started to look for my fan club :)

I saw Olivia, cheering for me!  She took this picture.

There I am, trampling on child sex trafficking as I crossed the finish line of the Hartford Marathon, giving all the glory to God.

For the kids!!!!

I was so happy!

Someone wrapped me in a wrap thingie that they give you at the end.  Someone else gave me a ING Hartford water bottle.  I was looking around for my family, feeling a bit confused.  I walked almost to the exit, and decided instead to turn around and go to the medical tent.

I just wanted to be safe.

They gave me chicken broth (yummy warm goodness!), took my pulse (the guy couldn't find it and used the machine - very high, of course), blood pressure (also high, especially for me), oxygen saturation (100%), listened to my heart, listened to me breath, and said I was fine, that I probably just got freezer burn of the lungs and throat.  I still couldn't inhale fully, but I was released to go.

I exited the tent and went to find the actual exit from the race.  Then I saw the people with the medals! I had completely forgotten that I hadn't received my medal yet!

It took me a while to find my fan club because we forgot to make a plan about meeting.  Plus, I had no phone and no way to tell them I was going to the med tent, so they were a bit frantic, trying to locate me.

But they found me!  And Olivia gave me a wreath she made for me!

Yes, I felt as bad as I looked.  This is the next shot of me and my glorious finish.

At a certain point, I realized the clock at the finish line was the time from start of the race, not my chip time from when I actually crossed the start (several minutes difference).  So I thought, Maybe I did cross in under 5 hours!

So we went to see if we could find my actual time.

And there it is!

4:58:18! Not fast, not glamorous, not what I hoped for, but not bad at all for the first time out!

The lady with the times asked if we wanted a family picture.

I learned a lot this race, which I will save for another post :)  Most of all, I finished the race - for the kids!

OK, and now to make a long post even longer :)

I want to thank Pastor Craig Burns for inspiring me to run for God's glory! He started running ultra marathons (distances over 26.2 miles) in his 50's after being diagnosed with lymphoma.  He often raises money for causes while racing, and he tends to be a "back-of-the-packer" like me :)  I started attending his church in Virginia in 2000 during a visit to my dad's because it was the only church with the service time in the yellow pages.

Also want to thank Colleen, Heather & Damian for challenging me that day last March in TGI Fridays after the Half of Quincy to consider running a marathon.

I'm forever thankful for all my friends and family who supported me in so many ways in running this race, especially Roy, Bear, JJ & Olivia!

And I will forever be inspired by my wonderful father, Jack, who has fought the good fight with courage and perseverance.  Dad, you make me aspire to goodness.  I love you so much. I could not have asked for a more amazing father.

I added my marathon bracelet next to my LIVESTRONG bracelet that he gave me, which I never take off.

Thanks, everyone! You inspire me to live my amazing!

There is still an opportunity to give, if your heart is moved to do so.  The kids & I thank you!

Posted at imperfect prose on 1/9/13

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Marathon Training: 18th & Final Week

Week 18.

Physical marathon training ends. 

Let the mental and emotional and spiritual training continue.

I run for the kids.

I met my goal of raising $100/mile and have set a new goal: $125 per mile.  

I need $558 more to hit that goal.

Have you given yet?  For the kids?

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 3.46 miles
Thursday: 4.2 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 2.5 mile walk

I traveled 10.16 miles this week.

Hartford*, here I come. 2 short days away.

For the kids.

*I was originally going to run the Baltimore Marathon, but because we haven't moved yet, I signed up for Hartford.