Gluten-Free Brownies

I LOVE snow days like these 🙂 .. Nom Nom Nom

casajos

I rarely bake. But once in a while I get a hankering for something sweet and only a freshly baked  treat will satisfy the craving. Having a gluten-free pantry forces a bit of digging for recipes that deliver results that are worth the effort. This recipe delivers! Taken from a new recipe book, Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich, these brownies are easy to make and they are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth (and impress your friends).

browniedessert2

Preheat the oven to 350 F and position a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Prepare a 9 inch square or round pan by coating the inside (side and bottom) with butter. I used a spring form cheesecake pan to enable easy extraction.

  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into squares
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 3/4 cup teff flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 3 large eggs, cold

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5 things every runner gets wrong

5 things every runner gets wrong
Although running is so straightforward in so many ways, some runners fall into the trap of making it extremely complicated for themselves with some basic running mistakes. The tendency to cut corners, or conversely to over-cook training, are just some of the potential pitfalls that lie in wait for the experienced and brand new runner.

Over-training
This is a classic mistake made by runners old and new to the sport. Having decided to run a certain distance/race, they fling themselves head first into a training plan, that they either don’t read properly, or even worse, do read properly, but simply ignore. The plans work for a reason and that reason is because they build up gradually towards a certain goal. Trying to do too much too quickly is a classic form of over-training, but there are others. Following a training plan with too much intensity will lead to burnout, while too many miles in the pursuit of your holy grail will also leave you worn out, injured and de-motivated. The classic signs of over-training are lethargy, aching joints and muscles, heavy legs and an elevated heart rate. So try to avoid it; it rarely takes you where you want to go.

Getting the pace wrong
This simple sentence covers a multitude of training sins that runners often make. For runners who join a group aimed at achieving a certain race/distance goal, it is tempting to try and be the quickest through the first mile (1.6 km). But a fast start will invariably lead to a slow finish and you will increase your chances of burnout/injury if you start your hard workout/tempo run within 3 strides of your session. Always run at your own pace and don’t be afraid to let everyone else do the same. Even if they leave you behind, you’ll probably catch them by the end.
That said, some runners can be notoriously stubborn for the wrong reasons, because they train at the same pace all the time. The secret of running success lies in a mixture of training sessions, including speed intervals, tempo running and endurance running. If you ignore all of that variety, your capabilities will lack variety and you’ll struggle to progress. So don’t set a monotonous, repeated pace on your training runs. Mix it up and think speed. Your PB will thank you for it.

Self sabotage
Ask any runner about their biggest enemy and most will admit it’s actually the enemy within. There are so many ways a runner can undermine their own potential. From succumbing to a paralysing bout of pre-race nerves that prompts them to make a colossal mistake, to refusing to accept that a plan isn’t working because it’s not right for them. Or even demonstrating an immovable resistance to the blindingly obvious, like continuing to stick to what they see as a tried and trusted formula, when the desperate need for change is staring them in the face. Perspective is a wonderful skill in a runner, along with a philosophical pragmatism that will go an awfully long way and take you with it.

Ignoring injuries
Being able to differentiate between an ache and a genuine injury is something that comes with experience. But running on blindly when your ankle is broken is not an ideal way to get miles under your belt. Get to know your body and you will be able to distinguish between a sore achilles and a snapped tendon. You will also begin to recognise when that voice in your head is telling you something hurts, when it really doesn’t.

Race madness
Getting races wrong is one of the most frustrating experiences it is possible to have for the runner who, for instance, has devoted six months of their life to a marathon. But a mistake made in the blink of an eye can inflict hours of misery on the day and have repercussions for weeks and months afterwards. From going out too fast in a blaze of ill-judged adrenaline, to ignoring water stations, wearing new blister-inducing running shoes or trying a new sports gel with catastrophic tummy-related consequences, the list is as long as the proverbial arm. Why spend weeks or months of your life training for a specific race, only to throw it all away with a stupid mistake? As with all things practice makes perfect and sometimes it’s only by getting things spectacularly wrong, that we come to understand what we should have done in the first place.
Try to remember that the kind of preparation you have obsessed about in the weeks leading up to your race, needs to be applied to race day itself. Never try anything new on the day, never change your routine at the last minute and never allow yourself to be persuaded that someone else’s warm up looks better than yours. Never ever start the race like a 100m sprinter and don’t treat the event like an extended fartlek session. Just follow your pace plan and always run your own race. It really is that simple.

5 things every runner gets wrong | World Running | feature image by coach Joe English

Gluten-free Quesadillas

I was so Happy my lovely wife surprised me with this treat! Gluten Free Quesadillas – AMAZING!

casajos

I thought that quesadillas were a thing of my past since my husband was diagnosed with Celiac several years ago and we transitioned our kitchen to a 100% GF environment. Many of my favourite recipes took a lot of trial and error to get just right using GF alternatives to more traditional and readily available ingredients including pizza dough, bread, and pasta. But during this experimental phase I never attempted one of my favourite snacks and I am not sure why. Perhaps it is because I have yet to find a gluten-free tortilla that can withstand even the slightest amount of moisture when in contact with vegetables and meat.

Until now.

These quesadillas were a huge success providing a quick delicious meal with the bonus of finally pulling my much-loved Panini Press out of storage since the switch.

QuesReady

Serve 2 as a meal or 4 as an appetizer.

Heat a panini press while preparing ingredients.

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How to run faster: a complete guide to fartlek training

As a runner you probably often hear the word Fartlek banded around but what does it actually mean? To help you, expert coaches at Runningwithus explain what it is and how to use it to increase your speed and overall pace.

What is Fartlek?
Fartlek is actually the Scandinavian word for ‘speed play’, a training technique used to increase speed and improve pace by adding small bursts of faster running but at varied paces into an average run.

For example: running faster from bench to lamppost or running faster for a 2 minute block then running easily followed by a 30 second burst at an even faster burst of running and so on.

How does it work?
If you are someone who feels they are a ‘one paced,’ as many runners do (you are not alone) then Fartlek could be ideal to help you understand the various paces you have.

  • You can have an idea of what speed play session you are intending on doing
  • OR you can, as traditionally intended keep the pace and duration of each interval random and spontaneous which is perfect for the runner who gets intimidated or overwhelmed by the idea of a pre-structured interval session.

Fartlek is a really great way of training on your own and making those weekly same routes interesting!

To incorporate Fartlek into your running try these:

‘3min, 2min, 1min’
If you want to prove to yourself that you do have more than one pace then give this mixed pace session ago.

After you’ve warmed up by running for 10-15 minutes easily Run the 3 minute block at your half marathon race effort, run the 2 minute block faster at your 10k race effort, then the 1 minute faster still and your 5k race effort. In-between each block jogs easily for 1minute to recover. Repeat two, three or four times through depending upon experience.
You will discover your various paces whilst working on speed!
Keep the blocks random
Your aim is to run a 45 minute run including between 6 to 10 spontaneous ‘pick ups’ depending upon experience. Keep these blocks varied in pace and judge them by time or landmark.
Ensure you don’t get into simply doing fast 10 second bursts. 2 minute or 3 minute blocks are essential to working on speed endurance as a runner so some of these random pickups must be longer!
Vary the terrain
Complete your fartlek session on a hilly, undulating and off road route in order to maximize strength, your conditioning and reduce the impact of running on tarmac or treadmill.
Cross training
You can complete very successful ‘speed play’ session on the static gym bike or x trainer by varying the level, effort and which you work and resistance. This builds fitness without the impact of running and makes that weekly cross training session more interesting!
Important things to remember
Fartlek really doesn’t need to be complicated and can be successfully achieved if you stick to these golden fartlek rules

  • Keep the recoveries as easy jogging rather than walking
    Ensure you vary your paces and challenge different energy systems.
  • Don’t keep each block the same length – variety of duration is key.
  • Avoid using a GPS and run to effort. Fartlek is meant to teach you how varying efforts feel.
  • Track of your session by using thebugmiles app or sync yourRunKeeper or Strava sessions with bugmiles
    Click here for more training tips or for more advice and information, get in touch with Nick Anderson at RunningWithUs.

More from The Running Bug
How to run faster: a complete guide to fartlek training – Training Tips – The Running Bug

Strength Training for New Marathoners

Strength Training for New Marathoners

How to incorporate strength exercises into training for your first marathon.

Hi Susan-
I will be training for Big Sur, my first marathon, this spring. I want to add strength training twice a week to my running routine. Are there any specific exercises you would recommend? I do not belong to a gym, but I have plenty of weights and things at home I will use. In addition to strength training, I was thinking of also adding cycling on Mondays, Wednesdays, and maybe Sundays. What do you think?
Melanie

Dear Melanie-
Great selection on your first marathon! This will be a very memorable first marathon. Kudos for thinking ahead and wanting to prepare adequately for a demanding race!

Strength training is a great idea for all runners, period. But, given a challenging marathon course, it’s even more important. In addition, cross-training can be an effective training tool as well, especially if you are following a three or four day-a-week running plan.

Just one word of caution though, know that you have taken on a lot of training for your first marathon, so please make certain you have adequate recovery time scheduled into your training too!

First of all, hills are a great form of strength training so your training plan should include plenty of hill runs. Start by checking out the course profile of Big Sur and see if it is possible to find any hills in your area that are of similar incline and/or length.

Next, create a good hill route that you can use frequently to train on, meaning at least once every one to two weeks. If there are no hills for you to use, resort to the treadmill, bridges, and parking garages to simulate the incline.

Here are two hill workouts for you to consider adding to your run plan.
Hill Repeats – Include a 1- to 2-mile warm up and then hit your chosen hill. Run up the hill and focus on your form by picking up your knees and pumping your arms. At the top, relax, shake out your arms, breath deep, and use the downhill portion as an easy recovery run. Turn around and tackle the hill again. Do several repeats and gradually increase the number of repeats you are able to run each time.
Downhill training – It’s also important to work the downhill portion of a hill too. Descending feels easier, because it is easier on our heart and lungs, but the downhill portion is much harder on our muscles. Running downhill requires eccentric contractions of the lower body muscles. Eccentric contractions mean the muscle lengthens while under great tension.

This causes small micro-tears in the muscle tissue. In proper doses, this results in making the muscle stronger but it does leave us sore afterwards until we adapt.

For a downhill workout, look for a hill with no more than an 8 percent slope. Too steep of a slope increases your risk of injury, so start easy! Relax on the way up the hill, keeping the pace easy as you climb, and then work it on the way down. Downhill running form is important too. Keep an upright posture, lean slightly forward, keeping your upper body over your hips. Avoid the tendency to lean backwards and slow down. Shorten your stride to keep your hips under you, and quicken your cadence. Try to land more mid-foot and avoid using your heel as a brake. Keep your knee slightly bent on your landing leg to minimize the impact. Keep your eyes on the road, just ahead of your feet.

For weight training, I prefer lifting on the same day as a run. For example, during the week, if you run Tuesday and Thursday, lift weights on those days too. This way, you will be able to plan for recovery. If you alternate running days with weights, every other day, there is no down time for your legs between workouts. It’s best to run first, then lift weights after the run. You can lift weights right after your run or opt to do weights at the end of the day. The fatigue from running before lifting will probably mean you use lighter weight but that’s ok. Doubling up will help make you stronger.
For specific exercises, target movements that engage the large muscles of the lower body, like the gluteal muscles, lower back, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, and hip flexors.

Try Squats, lunges, walking lunges, step ups, and calf raises, which are all good lower body exercises. These exercises can easily be done at home with dumbbells too.

Strengthen your upper body too because a strong upper body helps maintain good posture and running form during the marathon. Upper body exercises that you can do at home with dumbbells include lateral raises, overhead press, chest press, one-arm rows, and biceps and triceps.
And, of course, include core exercises too! Planks, side planks, sit ups, reverse curls, and abdominal curls will help improve your running form, reduce your risk of injury, and make running hills easier. They are also very easy to do at home!
Cross-training can be beneficial to runners too, especially when combined with a 3 or 4 day-a-week running plan.

If running 3 or 4 days a week, include aerobic cross-training two days a week at an easy to moderate intensity level. Please make sure you are including at least one day a week completely off for recovery though. Start by adding 1 day a week of cycling and note how your legs feel when running the next day. It’s important to make sure you have adequate recovery time before adding a second day of cycling.

If you feel fatigued, burned out, experience heavy legs, notice aches and pains, or your running suffers, cut back the cross-training.

Quality is more important than quantity.

All the best to you!
Susan S. Paul, MS

***
Susan Paul has coached more than 2,000 runners and is an exercise physiologist and program director for the Orlando Track Shack Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.trackshack.com.
Have a question for our beginners experts? Submit your question in the beginners forum here.

Strength Training for New Marathoners | Runner’s World – feature Image by Women Fitness

Protein Timing for Runners

The Power of Protein Timing – the three windows to refuel the runner.

It’s critical for runners to keep track of how much protein is in their diets, but it’s also important to eat it at the appropriate times to maximize performance benefits. Here’s when to chow on this key nutrient for muscle recovery and become a stronger runner.

 

RISE AND SHINE, PROTEIN TIME

Start your day with protein to ensure you’re properly fueling all that training. Sports performance nutritionist Krista Austin, who has a doctorate in exercise physiology and sports nutrition and has consulted with the Oregon Project, says that runners who front-load their day with more protein set themselves up for a more stable supply of energy, wind up feeling more satiated throughout the rest of the day, and enhance their moods. The goal is to keep pace with your energy demands, never letting your body go into a deficit. Match your protein percentage intake to the type of training you have planned for the day. All of her recommendations are based on a 120-pound runner. On easy days, eat 35 percent protein, 45 percent carbs. (For a 500-calorie breakfast, get 43 grams of protein; scale for your recommended caloric intake.) On days when you’re going hard or long, make it 25 percent protein and 60 percent carbs (31 grams of protein in a 500-calorie breakfast). Austin says that overall, runners need to increase their protein intake for breakfast on most training days.

Suggestions:

article-0-0B8A7FDD00000578-696_468x489Four-egg omelet with spinach and tomato, two soy sausage links, and fruit = 520 calories/34 grams protein

 

 

 

Image via http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

protein-pancake-recipes-4Protein Pancakes (1 serving, adding 25 grams protein powder to the mix) and two-egg omelet with spinach and tomato = 540 calories/44 grams protein

Image via http://www.bodybuilding.com/

 

THE POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY WINDOW

Protein is imperative for muscle repair and growth. Runners need to time protein intake to hit the 30-minute post-workout recovery window. Austin recommends that this meal or snack contain 25–30 grams of protein. Scale proportionately to your weight. Chris Winter, a Canadian steeplechaser at the 2013 world track championships, is a big fan of fish for go-to recovery. “I’ll spend the few bucks extra to get that little better cut of meat or piece of fish,” he says. “I find that in doing so I stay healthier, leaner, and generally have more energy. A plate of fresh salmon, quinoa, and a salad is my idea of a perfect recovery meal.”

Suggestions:

P7140076Apple and 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese = 280 calories/25 grams protein

 

 

 

Image via www.ouremptynest.net

 

TunaMelt2-500x375

 

Tuna melt: 3 ounces tuna, 1 ounce cheese, one English muffin = 340 calories/27 grams protein

 

 

Image via https://www.healthforthewholeself.com 

 

 

And now for the controversy..  

DAIRY PROTEIN BEFORE BED

snacks-under-100-calories-17-pg-full

image via http://www.everydayhealth.com/

Contrary to conventional wisdom, eating before bed will not add  unwanted pounds. While some studies have linked weight gain and late-night eating patterns, an extensive review by the British Medical Journal showed that this correlation only exists if you are eating too much or making poor food choices. In fact, eating a protein-stocked snack before hitting the pillow will do your training a favor–it’s a bonus recovery window to stimulate muscle repair and growth. A 120-pound runner should ingest 20–25 grams of protein, and to increase the benefits of this window, opt for a dairy source: The special enzymes from dairy enhance the benefits of this nightly protein. Skim chocolate milk, the ever-popular recovery drink, mixed with some protein powder, is the perfect combination of dairy, protein and sugar to aid restoration. Drink it right before going to bed to make tomorrow’s workout more productive.

Suggestions:

16 ounces skim chocolate milk = 200 calories/16 grams protein

Add protein powder of choice = 10 grams protein

So let the comments begin.

I agree even for me the dairy and protein at night continues to be disputed (well at least in our household), even in this latest scientific study it seems to show that timing of protein makes no difference?!? However if you read enough of the study you will also see the following statement:

“Since causality cannot be directly drawn from our analysis, however, we must acknowledge the possibility that protein timing was in fact responsible for producing a positive effect and that the associated increase in protein intake is merely coincidental.”

Quoted from “The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis” By: Brad Jon Schoenfeld, Alan Albert Aragon and James W Krieger

(See main site for comments section for additional thoughts and disputes)

My final thought is maybe this isn’t for everyone but I can state one thing with conviction… dairy and protein before bed continues to work well for me (even if my wife disagrees). 😉

via Protein Timing for Runners | Running Times.

feature image via http://akmalrusyd.blogspot.ca/

How to Fuel Your Training and Avoid Illness During Winter

During cold and flu season, it’s especially important for endurance athletes in training to take extra care to avoid getting sick. Heavy exertion—think brick workouts and long runs and rides—can impair your immune system for up to 72 hours post-workout, according to a study published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology. The study authors wrote:

“Infection risk may be amplified when other factors related to immune function are present, including exposure to novel pathogens … lack of sleep, severe mental stress, malnutrition or weight loss,”

The common-sense advice your mom dispensed applies here: Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, ears, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean, get as much rest as possible and eat well. Here are eight additional ideas to keep you healthy when you’re pushing your body to the limit.

Boost Your Immunity With Mushrooms

mushroomsMushrooms are known to help support the immune system, but the ones with the greatest impact are medicinal mushrooms such as maitake, reishi, coriolus, agaracus, and shiitake. These mushrooms contain powerful compounds called beta-glucans, which are proven to help activate the immune system

Cold-Weather Hydration Needs

drink waterFailing to drink enough fluids is a major problem among winter athletes. Cold blunts the thirst mechanism; you’ll feel less thirsty despite significant sweat loss (if you overdress), to say nothing of respiratory fluid loss. Winter athletes need to consciously consume fluids to replace the water that gets lost via breathing. When you breathe in cold, dry air, your body warms and humidifies that air. As you exhale, you lose significant amounts of water

Use Garlic to Ward Off Colds

Garlic is part of a phytonutrient sub-category known as allylic sulfides. garlicIt is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, immune boosting and cancer-fighting. It is truly a superfood.
For cold and flu prevention, chop up a clove of garlic and swallow the pieces without chewing. You may do this daily or several times a day, as needed. Not chewing prevents the garlic from making your breath smell, although it still burns the tongue a little on contact so swallow quickly. Garlic works immediately to kick start your immune system, both for cold prevention and a quick recovery

Not-so-Fishy Flu Prevention

fishySalmon, mackerel, herring and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which increase activity of phagocytes cells that fight flu by eating up bacteria, according to a study by Britain’s Institute of Human Nutrition and School of Medicine. They also contain selenium, which helps white blood cells produce cytokines, proteins that help clear viruses. Other research shows that omega-3s increase airflow and protect lungs from colds and respiratory infections.

Do You Burn More Calories in the Cold?

When the temperature is 32 degrees F or lower, it can increase your calorie needs if it’s cold enough to elicit the shivering response.
In colder temperatures, calorie needs are greater due to the increased work of thermogenesis, the body’s temperature regulation. Shivering can increase metabolic heat production 2 to 5 times above your resting metabolic rate, increasing your calorie needs.

Bacteria That Can Keep You Healthy

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that promote higher levels of the natural virus-fighter, interferon, which is often lacking in fatigued athletes. Ever notice how some endurance athletes are sick more often then “less healthy” individuals who don’t exercise nearly as much?With endurance training, many athletes cross the line from improving health with exercise to hurting it, in some areas anyway.Boost

One area of suppression is the immune system and specifically interferons, which are proteins made and released by cells in response to the presence of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, parasites and tumor cells. Studies have shown an increase in interferons in fatigued athletes with the supplementation of healthy bacteria. You can get probiotics from a good-quality yogurt, kefir, kombucha, fermented foods and drinks, probiotic-fortified foods and supplements

Warm Up Post-Workout With Hot Chocolate

hot chocolateAvoid pre-packaged hot chocolate mixes, which may contain artificial ingredients and excessive amounts of sugar. Instead, make your hot chocolate from scratch with low-fat milk and melted dark chocolate, as recommended by Penny L. Wilson, a registered dietician and owner of Eating for Performance. The caffeine in chocolate acts as a vasodilator to widen and relax the blood vessels so oxygenated blood can more easily flow through and restore your muscles.

Don’t Forget About This Vitamin During Wintercheese

Sunlight is one of the most abundant sources of vitamin D (our bodies make the nutrient by absorbing UVB rays). Researchers have long known vitamin D is important for bone health and that a deficiency can lead to serious (if rare) bone diseases such as rickets. But new research points to broader health benefits of getting adequate D, including lower risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as increased athletic performance.

There are almost no symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, so one of the only ways to know you’re getting an adequate amount is with an expensive blood test. Runners who live in the northern half of the United States and all of Canada and Europe, where winter sun isn’t strong enough to make vitamin D, are more at risk than others.

via How to Fuel Your Training and Avoid Illness During Winter | ACTIVE.