Sheryl Jesin


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Half Marathon Nutrition

As part of marathon week, today I will be writing about how I tackle the half marathon from a nutrition standpoint. I remember when I first started running, I was very confused about what to eat before and after a run. The night before my first 5k, I ate a huge salad and the morning of I had a big green smoothie. While healthy,this combination led to a very upset tummy before the race. That being said, some runners might find that the above mentioned foods are fine before a race. The key with race nutrition is to try everything out many, many times during training – especially before long runs. Through trial and error, I’ve learned a lot about what agrees with my stomach and what does not.

The day before the race

Before my half marathon, I ate lot throughout the whole day. I focused on carbs, and tried to avoid greasy foods. Breakfast was a big bowl of oatmeal with fruit. Lunch was hummus on rice cakes with cut up veggies. Dinner was a big bowl of gluten free pasta with tomato sauce and beans. Snacks were fruits such as apples and bananas, and some gluten free dairy free muffins. I was sure to drink a lot of water the day before. In fact, I drank lot of water the whole week before the race so that I was adequately hydrated.

Morning of the race

My breakfast on race day was Oh She Glow’s overnight oats. I ate this two hours before the start of the race, so that it had time to properly digest. I also drank 500mL of Vega Sport Electrolyte hydrator when I woke up, and tried to finish it one hour before the race. I was feeling a bit hungry before the start of the race and ate two medjool dates.

During the race

I carried a fuel belt with me during the race. In it were three 8oz bottles. Two of these bottles contained Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator and one contained water. I also carried with me two Vega Sport Gels.

My plan was to drink one bottle of the hydrator at 5k and one at 10k. My plan was to eat one gel at 8k and the other at 16k. I followed this plan, but found that I didn’t really want the second gel at 16k. I had about half of it and then threw the rest on the ground. I also had sips of water at each water station along the way.

I know that a lot of people don’t like to be weighed down by a fuel belt in a race. For me, it is comforting to know that I have my own electrolyte drinks and gels, and water, so that I can drink when I am thirsty and refuel with gel when I’m feeling like I need a boost of energy. Gatorade, which is provided at aid stations along the way – grosses me out. It is full of artificial coloring and flavors and sugar, and is not something I want to put in my body. I love the Vega Sport products – they were developed by a vegan triathlete, Brendan Brazier. They are plant based, all natural and made with whole foods. I find them very easy to digest. I’ve practiced with them all through my training and I know that my body reacts well to them.

After the race

After my first half marathon in the spring, I did not eat or drink adequately and ended up with a horrible headache for the rest of the day. I was determined not to let this happen again. I had a banana and apple right after I crossed the finish line. I had a Vega Smoothie Infusion (chocolate flavoured, yum!) during the car ride home. I sipped on water for the whole day. I also ate a lot of food, starting with a huge smoothie as soon as I got home. I managed to avoid the-post race headache and actually felt quite good for the remainder of the day.


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Meal Plan Monday

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a meal plan.  Truthfully, it’s been a while since I’ve written out a meal plan.  I know that our week is so much smoother when I take the five minutes to write out a plan, yet sometimes I still don’t do it.  Why?  Why do we know that things are good for us, and still don’t do them?  If I only knew the answer to that!

Anyways, here goes!

Monday – Dinner at my mother-in-law’s house

Tuesday – Curried chickpeas from Choosing Raw (I made this in advance and tasted it already, and they are SO GOOD!!!  You must try this recipe if you like curry and chickpeas.  So easy and so delicious).  Leftovers from my MIL’s (quinoa salad, beet salad).  Roasted asparagus.

Wednesday – Brown rice pasta with lentils and tomato sauce.  Broccoli.

Thursday – Leftover pasta.  Homemade veggie burgers (based on this recipe from Oh She Glows, but with lentils instead of black beans).  Cauliflower.

Friday – dinner at my parents’.

What are you cooking this week?


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Recipe – Baked Oatmeal with Apple and Banana

Had a bit of fun again in the kitchen last night, this time with baked oatmeal.  I’ve been wanting to try a baked oatmeal dish for a while.  I thought it would be a good late night snack and a quick and easy breakfast before Dylan heads off to school in the morning.  (The La Leche League leader in me also thinks that baked oatmeal would be a great dish for a new mom – can be made ahead of time and easily warmed up for a quick breakfast.  Plus, oatmeal is supposed to boost milk supply.)

I was perusing through Angela’s Oh She Glows blog and came across a great recipe  – Fruity Baked Oatmeal with Crunchy Almond Topping.  I decided to give it a try, and made a few changes based on what I had on hand at home.  I am truly amazed at how amazingly delicious it turned out!  (Although I shouldn’t be surprised – Angela’s recipes are all outstanding!!)  It is creamy, yet dairy free.  It is satisfying, comforting and so delicious!  I just may have a new favorite breakfast recipe…

Recipe – Baked Oatmeal with Apple and Banana (Vegan, can be gluten free with GF oats, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 and 2/3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup Ruth’s Chia Goodness (I used chocolate because I had some extra on hand.  You can substitute with plain chia seeds if you like!)

2 large bananas, sliced

2 apples, chopped

2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of sea salt

3 1/2 cups water

4 tbsp maple syrup

1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

Topping:

1/2 cup raw walnuts

4 tbsp rolled oats

2 tbsp coconut sugar

2 tsp maple syrup

1 tbsp Earth Balance (can substitute with coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or water)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together oats, Chia Goodness, banana, apple, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.  Add water, maple syrup and vanilla.  Stir well.  Pour into a 2L baking dish.  Set aside.

Chop walnuts.  Add in oats, coconut sugar, maple syrup and Earth Balance.  Mix well.  Sprinkle over oatmeal mixture in baking dish.

Bake for 25-30 mins.  It will be done when the water has been absorbed and topping is golden brown.  Serve warm, and ENJOY!  Makes 8 servings.

I had three (small) bowls of this immediately after I took it out of the oven.  I figured why not – it is full of wholesome ingredients, and I with the half-marathon training I am doing, I can use the extra carbs!

Have you ever tried making baked oatmeal?  What are some of your favorite oatmeal toppings?


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How to make juice using a blender

I love smoothies.  I really do.  I tend to have one every day for breakfast.   They are an easy way to get in tons of fruits and veggies first thing in the morning and when I add in all my extras like protein powder, almond milk, chia seeds and more, they are very filling and keep me going til lunch.

However, sometimes I’m looking for something that will give me a big punch of nutrition without filling me up.  This usually happens in the afternoon – my energy levels are low and I need a little boost.  This is where juice enters!  And I’m not talking the kind of juice you buy in the supermarket that is basically just sugar water.  I’m talking about home made juice.  (No – I’m not exaggerating over store bought juice – the kind in bottles and the refridgerated brands like Tropicana too.  When they are made, they are heated so high during the pasteurization process that basically all flavour and nutritional value are lost.  Manufacturers then add in “natural flavour” and vitamin C.  Click here for more info.  I absolutely refuse to buy store bought juice.  My kids do have it on occasion when we are at someone’s house, but NEVER at home.  We just don’t buy it!)

OK – so back to juice making – I really want a juicer and it is on the wish list of things I want for my kitchen. Until then, my trusty Vitamix is my juicer!

When making juice, it is best to use a whole bunch of veggies and just enough fruit to make it palatable.  When you make juice, you remove the fibre from the fruits and veggies.  This is no big deal – I know I get tons of fibre throughout my day.  However, when you eat fruit, the fibre in them helps to balance out the sugar, which prevents spikes in your blood sugar level.  That’s why I just put a bit of fruit in my juices, and mainly concentrate on the veggies.    You can never get enough veggies in your diet!

Here’s a picture of the veggies and fruit I used in today’s juice – a big chunk of cabbage, 5 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 apple, 1 small cucumber, half a lemon and a chunk of ginger.

Ready to be juiced

I began the process by putting a bit of water in the blender to get things going – perhaps a scant 1/4 cup.   Then I added the celery and cucumber and blended til smooth.  Then I added each item and blended.  It’s easier to add things slowly then trying to cram everything in there at once.

Once everything was blended and smooth, I strained the mixture.  We have a very fine sieve that I use for this process.  You could also use a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or even an old t-shirt!  I held the sieve over a bowl and poured the mixture in.  Then I pressed it down using a spoon to fully get all the juice out.  Here’s what that looks like:

Straining the mixture

Isn’t it such a beautiful purple color?   The cabbage really makes it so pretty!  Once I was done straining, I poured the delicious juice into a glass.  Here is the final product:

The final product
Top view

The whole process probably took me 15 minutes.  The most time consuming part is pressing down the mixture with a spoon to get all the juice out.  I managed to do this with my toddler grabbing on to my leg and my 4 year old talking my head off about Lego.  A bonus with using the Vitamix for juicing is that the clean up is super quick.  (I’ve heard the conventional juicers are a pain to clean).

I thought the final product was delicious.  I might have added a bit more ginger, but otherwise the combination of veggies with the apple was perfect.  I should add that my 4 year old wouldn’t drink it, but my 1 year old loved it.  Perhaps my four year old would have liked it with less ginger and another apple!

Have you ever used your blender to make juice?  Also, do you have any favorite juice combinations?


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Recipe – Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I’ve been avoiding cow’s milk dairy for the past few months for a variety of different reasons.  Does that mean I have to give up ice cream?  Nope!

I discovered an amazing brand of vegan, soy free ice cream called Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss.   It is made with coconut milk and it is truly blissful!  It is creamy and delicious and even if you eat dairy, you should give it a try.   Why?  It’s made from amazing ingredients – in particular, coconut milk.   Coconut milk is is super creamy and delicious but its fats are actually good for you!  Unlike the cholesterol-laden artery-clogging fats in cream, coconut fats are high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).   These MCTs are identical to those fats found in human breast milk, and contain similar antimicrobial and heart protective qualities.   The breastfeeding advocate in me just loves this!!

Fat in coconut is used differently by your body than other fats.  MCTs don’t need to be broken down – instead they can be used by your body immediately as energy.  In fact, coconut fat provides easily digestible energy that is ideal to consume before physical activity such as running, cycling or hiking.   Coconut fat stimulates your metabolism!

I buy Luna and Larry’s at Whole Foods or Noah’s Natural Foods here in Toronto and I definitely recommend that you try it.   If you can’t find it in a store near you,  I recently discovered that it is pretty simple to make your own coconut milk ice cream using the Vitamix.

Recipe – Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Ingredients:

One 14oz or 400 ml can of coconut milk – (I used full fat, not the light versions)

Sweetener – maple syrup, agave syrup or honey to taste

Vanilla to taste

Mix your coconut milk, sweetener of choice and vanilla in a bowl.  I didn’t list amounts because the amount you use is really personal preference.   Start with 1 tablespoon of sweetener and 1/2 tsp of vanilla.   Give it a taste and add more if necessary.

Pour the mixture into an ice cube tray.   Freeze for a few hours until solid.

Place the frozen ice cube mixture into your Vitamix and blend!   It will become creamy and delicious and take on an ice cream texture within seconds.   Serve right away and ENJOY!


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Recipe – Chocolate chip coconut oatmeal cookies

Yesterday I discovered a delicious blog – Chocolate Covered Katie.   Katie blogs about vegan healthy desserts.   Can you say right up my alley?  How have I not heard of her site until now?

I like to eat healthy, but there is still room for dessert made from satisfying and nutritious whole foods.   Katie’s blog has so many creative dessert recipes that I just can’t wait to try.

This afternoon, I was inspired by Katie’s Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies.   I took her recipe and changed it up a bit.   Here’s what I came up with:

Recipe – Chocolate Chip Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

(Gluten free – if using GF oats, soy free, vegan)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. coconut sugar

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. water

1 tbsp. agave syrup

1 tbsp. almond butter

2 tbsp chocolate chips

Mix oats, baking soda, salt and coconut sugar in a magic bullet or food processor until oats are broken down into an almost flour like powder.  Place in medium sized bowl.   Stir in olive oil, water, almond butter and agave.  Mix well.  Mixture should be moist but still crumbly.  If you pinch the batter, crumbs should stick together.   If not, add a tiny bit more olive oil.  Add in chocolate chips and form batter into 6-8 small cookies.

Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes.

These taste absolutely divine warm out of the oven!  Don’t fret if you don’t have coconut sugar – brown sugar will work too, as per Katie’s original recipe!  (Although I personally love the coconut-y flavour of the coconut sugar).  Or you could try 2 tbsp of agave or other liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey) and cut out the water.   I think they would also be amazing with raisins instead of chocolate chips.  Or sunflower seed butter instead of the almond butter.   The possibilities really are endless!  I may have to whip up another batch later…


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Recipe – Almond butter tahini oat cookies

I was recently given a lovely assortment of Mum’s Original products to test out from the friendly and passionate team at Borden Communications.  I truly felt like I hit the jackpot when I picked up my package!  It contained:  hemp hearts, chia, goji berries, oats, cacao powder, cacao nibs, coconut flour, coconut sugar, banana powder, rock salt, and quinoa.  Yup – pretty much all of my favorite super foods.

I was in the mood to test out a few of the products, and found a recipe online for Teff Almond Butter cookies.   I decided to swap out a few ingredients with some of the Mum’s Original products I had on hand, and the following recipe was born:

Recipe – Almond butter tahini oat cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 1/2 tsp. Mum’s Original chia meal

1 cup Mum’s Original oat flour

1/2 cup Mum’s Original coconut flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinammon

1/8 tsp. Mum’s Original Himalayan rock salt

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 cup almond butter

1/3 cup tahini

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees celcius.

Mix apple sauce and chia in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Combine flours, salt, and baking powder in another medium sized bowl, and set aside.

Warm the almond butter and tahini for about 25 seconds in the microwave.  Add to apple sauce mixture.   Stir in honey, and vanilla.

Make a well in the dry ingredients.   Add in the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Scoop out a small amount of dough with a small spoon and roll into a ball using your hands.   Place on a prepared cookie sheet.  Flatten the ball with the tines of a fork.  Bake for about 10-13 minutes, until set.

The recipe will make approximately 24 cookies.

Delish!

I decided to stir in some Mum’s Original coconut cacao nibs to half of the dough.  It added a bit of a crunchy texture and some delicious chocolatey flavour!

These cookies will satisfy your sweet tooth, and will also fill you up, since they are full of protein, fibre and healthy fats.   I found that the cookies had a fudge like texture, and a delicate flavour, similar to halvah.

I highly recommend that you hop to the store, pick up some Mum’s Original products and try this recipe out.   You won’t be disappointed!