Chocolate covered blueberries

I came up with this idea of making chocolate covered blueberries while craving for something sweet that I would not feel bad about eating. I thought, if one can make chocolate covered strawberries why not blueberries?! The key is to pick a dark chocolate with at least 65% cacao. Both dark chocolate and blueberries are an excellent source of anti-oxidants along with other benefits.

This is quick and easy…

Brake the chocolate bar into several pieces and place then in a glass container. Place in microwave for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Stir until completely melted.

Pour previously washed blueberries into the melted chocolate. Stir until blueberries are completely covered in chocolate.

With teaspoon scoop out several blueberries and place them on a lined pan. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens.

Keep leftover refrigerated.

Banana bread

Delicious banana bread made with whole wheat flour and ground flax seeds make a healthy and tasty treat! Here’s the recipe I tried…

Ingredients:
1 1/2  cups  mashed ripe banana
1/3  cup  plain fat-free yogurt
5  tablespoons  butter, melted
2  large eggs
1/2  cup  granulated sugar (splenda)
1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
6.75  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups) or wheat flour
1/4  cup  ground flaxseed
3/4  teaspoon  baking soda
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/8  teaspoon  ground allspice
Cooking spray

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until combined.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through ground allspice). Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool completely.  Buen provecho!!

Got toe nails?

As I continue with training and put on miles comfort becomes a big issue. One starts to realize the importance of a good pair of shoes and socks. Before I started running I was uneducated about the right fit of running shoes. I went to a specialized store where I was measured and tested on my running (video taped while running on treadmill) in order to get me the perfect fit for my type of feet and running style. Once I put those shoes on I noticed the difference, specially because I learned I had been buying my shoes too small!

Now that I have learned that I need neutral running shoes with cushioning my feet are much happier. The next step are the socks. I have also learned that socks make a big difference for my blister problems. Already having lost toe nails, I now only wear certain socks to workout. But hey, I have read that black or loosing a toe nail are badges of honor in the running world. Definitely not attractive but I am thankful for nail polish!! 😉

The best pair of socks I have found are these pictured here. The Thorlo Experia pad socks. They provide extra cushioning and come in different colors. They are dry fit which is an important factor when preventing blisters. That way my feet stay dry as much as possible. Just look at the label of any sock and make sure they are NOT made out of cotton.

The last trick I have learned about is Vaseline or generic petroleum jelly. I rub vaseline on my toes every time I workout whether running or not. This helps prevent any friction between toes therefore no blisters! The combination of good sneakers, dry fit socks and vaseline has worked wonders for me. Now let’s hope this continues when I run more each week. I’m up to 14 miles and counting…

“The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare.” – Juma Ikangaa

Papaya Sorbet

This tropical fruit is one of my favorite. This is sorbet is great to have by itself or with cottage cheese or with greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
8 cups peeled, seeded and diced ripe papaya, (about 1 very large)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup of splenda
1/4 cup “lite” coconut milk, divided
2 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 teaspoon lime zest, divided
2 pinches of salt


Line a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Arrange diced papaya in a single layer and freeze overnight.
Combine water and splenda in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, until the splenda is completely dissolved and transparent, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the papaya from the freezer to defrost for about 5 minutes.
Transfer half the frozen papaya to a food processor. Add half the splenda in water, 2 tablespoons coconut milk, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest and a pinch of salt. Pulse two or three times then process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides and stir as necessary. Transfer the sorbet to a large serving bowl. Repeat with the remaining ingredients; add to the serving bowl. Serve immediately or freeze until ready to use.

Weekend Homework

While grocery shopping I saw this magazine and could not resist from buying it! I love anything pumpkin and this picture looks amazing!! Inside they have different versions on how to make the bread. I will buy all my ingredients to make the peanut butter pumpkin bread…yumm! Will be posting final product next week. This magazine is being sold now if you want to grab a copy. Also please feel free to let me know what kind of recipes you would like to see. So far I’m trying things catered to my taste but I can take suggestions! 😉

Black Bean Brownies

I stumbled upon this recipe and it immediately caught my attention due to the ingredients used in it. I did it and to my surprise I could not taste the beans at all. I made it just like this but next time I will try it without the coffee. The consistency of the brownies were just like any other. Be adventurous and give this recipe a try!

Ingredients:4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well (canned is fine)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute (or instant coffee, for gluten-sensitive)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan with parchment paper and lightly oil with canola oil spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)

106 days to go…

As time gets closer to the ING Marathon it is time for some planning. I will need to become very familiar with this map of the course. I will need to plan my stops and the emergency use of a port-a-potty in which I will try to avoid as much as possible.

I’m thinking of dividing the full in two halves. The first half I plan to take it a bit slower trying save some energy towards the end. It has been my experience that I always feel better when my body is completely warmed up and have been running for about 45 minutes. I want to use that to my advantage and try to keep pace if I just take it slow at the beginning.

Fuel is very important when running for so long. Keeping hydrated is key to a good performance. After experimenting with different types I have found GU gels to be my favorite. I will also need to plan when and how often I will be taking these.

The big challenge lies on the Rickenbacker bridge which will be at mile 23. At this point I will not be too hard on myself and take a walking break if needed going up the bridge. I must know every turn and every bridge in order to plan and be prepared as much as possible.

This week my friend Monica posted this quote on my wall and it reminded me once again why I am doing this. “I’ve learned that finishing a Marathon isn’t about just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible”.- John Hanc

Have you seen these?

At one of my races I received this quinoa and almond bar. I always look at the nutritional facts to make sure these bars have protein to calm my hunger when eating them as a snack. To my surprise these were not bad at all. A good source of carbs and protein but with low sugar! I only eat these when I want something different for a snack and also only when I know I’m running as they are high in carbs. Here’s the bad news… I searched for them online to know where I can buy more and found out they do not sell the in the U.S.!!! I’m so sad! On their website it does say they are coming soon. Keep an out for them as it was a great and tasty option.

My only thought was, why in the world would they give them out at a race when one can’t buy them??? Hehehe… Oh well maybe I can do some research on making my own quinoa bar!

Pumpkin Cream Cupcakes

Nothing says fall more than smell of pumpkin cupcakes baking in the oven! I love anything pumpkin and these cupcakes that seem more like muffins came out delicious! As part of the recipe it has a cream topping, feel free to cut some calories by leaving this out. The cupcakes come out so good that it’s not necessary. I hope you guys enjoy this and for the ones who actually make it, please share your opinion. =)

Ingredients:

1 pkg. (2-layer size) spice cake mix – use egg whites when making mix
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) Jell-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding sugar-free
1 cup canned organic pumpkin
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese fat-free, softened
1/4 cup Splenda
1 egg

HEAT oven to 350ºF.
PREPARE cake batter as directed on package. Add dry pudding mix and pumpkin; mix well. Spoon into 24 paper-lined muffin cups.
BEAT cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Blend in splenda and egg; spoon over batter.
BAKE 18 to 21 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 5 min.; remove to wire racks. Cool completely.

Surprise Surprise!

Today was my weekend session with my bootcamp family and all I can say is Wow!!! We met at my favorite weekend location, South Beach! I was expecting some running and maybe a mix of upper body exercises to go with an insane amount of bear crawls on the sand as we usually do when at SoBe. But today I was wrong!

Before starting our work out we gathered around and were told we would be running 10 miles. I immediately thought, “that’s supposed to be my run tomorrow”! However I was happy to be running with a change of scenery. We started out on South Pointe Dr and headed to the McArthur causeway leaving the beach. It was a beautiful morning. Sunny, breezy and maybe in the mid 70s. For Miami, it was great weather to be outdoors.

We continued our run on the McArthur bridge and into downtown until we got to the steps of the American Airline Arena where we made a U-turn and did it all over again back to South Pointe Dr. I felt good half way, even picked up my pace on the way back. I made decent timing for 10 miles and still felt great when finished; boy was I glad because we still had push ups to do!…… Now all I need to do is figure out what I’m doing for my Sunday workout.

What I do know is that I have bought all my ingredients to make two different types of healthy desserts. Sweets are my weakness so I’m always thinking of ways I can make healthier versions of desserts I enjoy.

I will be making pumpkin cupcakes and believe or not, black bean brownies!! So stay tuned…..

Here’s my kindergarten map of our course today! 🙂