Go Bananas!

I have been on a serious banana kick lately. 

For many years, I didn’t like bananas.  I think it was mostly a texture thing at first, but I didn’t like the actual fruit, I didn’t like banana flavored anything… it was no bananas at all for this girl.  When I started eating healthier though, bananas quickly became a regular item on my grocery list.  They’re cheap, easy to find, good on-the-go, and a great source of vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and potassium.

Bananas are also great for active people because they are a high-energy fruit that can help you power through your workout or replenish your blood sugar levels after physical activity, preventing dizziness and fatigue.  When you exercise, your muscles use glycogen – a type of carbohydrate – as fuel, but bananas provide your body with carbs to replenish the tank.  When you work out, you also lose a lot of potassium through your sweat, leading to cramping, but bananas can help bring your levels back to normal, decreasing discomfort. 

I guess these little guys are on to something!

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I feel like I can never have enough bananas so I pretty much buy a bundle of them every single week.  When I work out first thing in the morning and am not ready for a full breakfast right away, I usually have a banana right before or after I hit the gym.  If I don’t eat them before they are about to go bad, they get frozen to use in homemade sorbet or smoothies, or I use them to make pancakes, banana bread, cookies, muffins, and other baked goods.  I don’t think I’ve ever thrown one away!

Last week, I saw that someone on Instagram made Paleo-friendly banana scones, and I instantly wanted them.  It was right before my trip, and I had a couple of bananas to use up, so I figured I’d give it a try.

In the food processor, I threw 2 bananas, 1 egg, a couple tablespoons of almond flour, 1 tablespoon of coconut flour, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a bunch of cinnamon.  When it started to get a little thicker, I poured it in a bowl and stirred in a few chopped strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. 

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I was hoping they’d hold up a little better, but they were kind of soft, so I just went with it and plopped them on a cookie sheet. 

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After about 25 minutes in the oven at 375*F, they came out like soft little mounds of goodness.  I brought them on my trip with me and my coworker asked what they were called and I quickly spit out… ‘mookies?’

Cookies… muffins… I’m not sure what they should technically be called but they were certainly tasty! 

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(One thing I do know is that they were nothing like a scone.  But I am definitely making these ASAP. Holy YUM.) 

Over the weekend, I made another variation on my banana pancakes too: banana waffles.

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I used the usual ingredients – 1 banana, 2 eggs, cinnamon, and a bit of almond flour – but I threw the batter into my waffle maker instead of onto a griddle.  I topped them with strawberries, blueberries, and mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips, with maple syrup and bacon on the side. 

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It was quite the decadent meal for a Sunday morning and I enjoyed every bite of it. I don’t know what other banana treats will come out of my kitchen this week, but I’m sure there will be something!

Questions:

Do you like bananas?

What’s your favorite way to use/eat them?


It’s Monday Already?

This weekend was a little bit backwards from how my weekends normally go – mostly because of the weather.  Saturday started off cloudy and rainy, and I had to go into work for a few hours in the morning, so I decided to get all my weekly chores out of the way right off the bat.

After work, I headed straight to the gym to get in one more workout for the week.  Being at the Y on a Saturday morning between 9 and 11 is really not fun to me because of how crowded it gets, but luckily by the time I was finishing up, it was clearing out.

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Despite the crowds, I do love Saturday workouts because they often mean I can spend as long as I want in the gym.  I can move slower, spend more time on things I want to work on, and practically get as much in as I feel like with nothing pressing to rush off to.  That’s definitely how it went this weekend, and it was good to spend some extra time stretching and working on some new moves that I’ve been trying to master. 

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Here’s what my Saturday workout looked like:

  1. Warm-up + stretch
  2. Back squats:
    1. 12 @ 95#; 10 @ 105#; 8 @ 135#; 5 @ 155#
    2. 5×3: 185#; 155#; 135#; 105#; 95#
  3. 15×3 @ 35#:
    1. Shoulder press
    2. Upright rows
  4. Front squats: 5×5 @ 95#
  5. 1 Snatch + 5 Overhead squats x10 @ 55#
  6. Squat cleans: 5×5 @ 553
  7. Sumo deadlift high pulls: 5×5 @ 55#
  8. RDLs: 5×5 @ 55#
  9. Snatch drills

After my long workout, I headed home to clean my apartment and do my laundry, stopping for lunch in between.  I wanted Mexican, so I cooked up chicken and peppers in a pan on the stove with chili powder and cumin, and had some chips and salsa on the side.

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The rest of the day was spent shopping for new workout pants (found a pair at TJ Maxx) and running errands.  And while I was out… all I was thinking about was pizza.  I haven’t had pizza in quite a while, so I was thinking about stopping to pick one up, when the idea hit me: cauliflower crust pizza.  I’d been wanting to try it out for a while, and with some time to kill and a craving for pizza, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.  It came out absolutely wonderful too, so I’ll definitely be sharing the recipe later this week.

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I woke up early on Sunday and started the day off with a big batch of extra-green spinach banana pancakes with syrup, berries, and bacon.  I’m not quite sure what went wrong this time, but they all stuck to the pan and it was rather devastating.  Luckily they were still delicious (even if they weren’t that pretty), but I think it might be time to buy a new, non-burnt pan…

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After breakfast, I hurried off to meet up with a couple friends to hike Mt. Monadnock.  It was the absolute perfect day for a hike – sunny and warm but not brutally hot. 

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Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea as we did because the parking lot was packed, but luckily the trail didn’t feel crowded at all.  We took a trail I’d never done before, which seemed far less-traveled than the main one, and we only passed by a few other groups the entire time. 

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The clear skies made for picturesque views all around, and I took it all in from the top.  I’m severely directionally-challenged, but on a clear day, they say you can see Boston from the summit. 

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How lucky am I to live in such a beautiful place?!  (The correct answer would be: pretty dang lucky.)  I absolutely love it here. 

Once we made it back to the base, I headed home and spent a couple hours out lounging by the pool at my apartment.  It wasn’t quite warm enough for me to want to take a dip, but it was nice to get a little sun.

And the last stop of the day was the kitchen for some meal prep.  Since I did groceries on Friday, my fridge is absolutely filled to the brim with food… Chicken, steak, eggs, fruits, and veggies galore!

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This week, I decided to take the easy route and make one batch of meatloaf filling and turn it into two different types of meals.  Sometimes I make a meatloaf that lasts me practically an entire week, but I’m so sick of it after a few days that I’m shoving it in just to keep from wasting it. 

To avoid that, I combined a pound of ground turkey, two plum tomatoes, one green pepper, one egg, about 1/4 cup of almond flour, and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste (ingredients: tomatoes), to make the base.  Then, I put half of it into a loaf pan and topped it with bacon, and made half of it into meatballs.  I baked both in the oven, cooked up some green beans to go with the meatloaf, and peppers to go with the meatballs (I’ll probably add fresh spinach when I actually eat them), and voila – two very different meals. 

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I don’t usually add tomato paste to my meatloaf, but I tried it out for dinner last night, and I think it was a great choice.  I had it leftover from Saturday’s pizza, and it definitely gave the meatloaf an extra kick and made it nice and moist. 

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I also had quite a few bananas laying around, so I made a batch of banana bread muffins using three bananas, six eggs, about 1/3 cup (maybe?) of almond flour, a big tablespoon of coconut flower, a pinch of baking soda and baking powder, four teaspoons of coconut oil, and a crapload of cinnamon.  (I’m so precise, I know.)  Since the loaf pan was occupied with the meatloaf, I used my individual brownie pan, and they came out wonderful.  It made six pretty large muffins, which would be perfect for either breakfast or dessert!

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So between working and spending too much time at the gym and shopping and cooking and hiking and napping by the pool… this weekend certainly flew by.  Sometimes though – like in this case – that’s the sign of a really good weekend, so you won’t hear me complaining.  We’ve only got so many summer weekends to enjoy, and I think I’m off to a good start!

Questions:

What did you meal prep for this week?

What did you do this weekend?

Do you like hiking?


Stuff, Lately.

I’ve been meaning to share this picture for a full week now, so here:

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I got that meal at a chain restaurant that I went to with my coworkers and was a little nervous about not being able to find anything on the menu at. (The 99, to be exact.)

Maybe I was just being negative, but when I placed my order, I was a little nervous that I would be slapped with a greasy piece of chicken and some freezer-burned veggies. Boy, was I wrong. What came out was a perfectly grilled, tender piece of lemon rosemary chicken breast drizzled with a balsamic glaze and a whole bunch of super-fresh grilled broccoli, tomatoes, and asparagus. It’s nice to know you can still get a good meal for cheap these days!

This week in the gym, I decided to resurrect my quickly forgotten dream of becoming a pull-up queen. I planned to end every day this week with 25 pull-ups, but unfortunately, I forgot about that plan by the second day. That’s what happens at 6am, I guess!

Here’s what Tuesday’s workout looked like, with the pull-ups:

  1. Warm-up: 5-10 minute walk on treadmill
  2. Shoulder presses:
    1. 15 @ 45lbs
    2. 10 @ 55lbs
    3. {5 @ 75#} x5
  3. Thrusters: {5 @ 75#} x5
  4. Workout (7x):
    1. 15 Wall balls
    2. Walking lunges one length of track
    3. 10 Push-ups
    4. Run rest of lap
  5. 100 Jump ropes
  6. 100 Swiss ball crunches
  7. 100 Weighted side bends
  8. 25 Assisted pulls-ups @ 50#
  9. Cool-down: 5-10 minute walk

And here’s what Wednesday’s looked like, without:

  1. Warm-up: 10 minute walk
  2. 150 Wall balls
  3. Deadlifts:
    1. 15 @ 95#
    2. 12 @ 105#
    3. 8 @ 135#
    4. 5 @ 155 x3
    5. 8 @ 135#
  4. Workout (6x):
    1. Run 2 laps
    2. 15 OH squats @ 40#
    3. 10 KB swings @ 25#
  5. 100 Crunches
  6. Cool-down: 10 minute walk

The good news is that I was back at them today!

Other than that one standout above, food has been pretty standard around here lately, as I polish off my prepped meals

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And go with some old favorites.

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I’ve also been snacking on lots of fruits + nuts as usual…

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But one downside has been this new yogurt. It’s a local, grass-fed plain yogurt I found at the Co-op, so I was excited to try it, but I have to admit that I was let down. Maybe I’m just used to thicker, Greek style yogurt, but this was thin and runny, which is so not my thing. Beyond that, it has more sugar, more fat, and less protein than my beloved plain Chobani… not exactly what I was going for. I need to finish it up though, so I threw some cinnamon and berries in it for breakfast the other day, and I’m making my way through it. At least now I know that the grass isn’t always greener…

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This banana loaf has certainly been a bright spot this week though. At first I was nervous about the recipe, but I actually really love how it came out. It’s just sweet enough to be the perfect dessert alongside a whole slew of berries and cherries.

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And finally, this is my “I planned on going running but I just spent 45 minutes on the couch taking weird pictures of myself instead” face. It’s a mix of confusion, thoughtfulness, and surprise. I know, I’m deep.

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Happy Thursday! Winking smile


Super-Moist Banana Bread

So I have a new recipe for you, but I feel I have to caution you because I’m not sure that everyone will like it as much as I did.  I was going for a regular banana bread, but what I ended up with was an overly-moist, banana mush in loaf-form that could probably be considered “bread” only if you think liberally about the term. 

So, yeah.  Consider that my formal PSA.

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But if you’re adventurous with food, like me (I say that with just a tinge of sarcasm because I’m really only “adventurous” with the foods I already know I like, and I’m not sure that counts), you might want to give this one a try.  The ingredients are all pretty wholesome, and despite the texture being a little bit mushier than your average banana bread, the taste is still really great.  Warm, it almost reminded me of my strawberry chocolate chip baked oatmeal, which is definitely one of my favorites, and cold, it did take on more of that traditional banana bread feel.  

I served it up on Memorial Day Monday with a particularly patriotic assortment of fruits, and it made for a seriously delicious breakfast. 

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Ingredients:

  • 4 medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 bananas (the more ripe, the better)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond flour

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Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F.
  2. Pit the dates and put them in the food processor, blending until they are fully chopped and form a ball.
  3. Add the peeled bananas, eggs, and yogurt and process until fully blended. 
  4. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and blend fully, then do the same with the dry ingredients. 
  5. Grease a loaf pan with butter or cooking spray (or use a non-stick pan) and pour in the batter.
  6. Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  The outside will get golden brown but the inside will still be pretty moist.
  7. Let cool and serve (or eat warm!).

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I picked up that new grass-fed yogurt at the Co-Op this weekend, so I really wanted to start using it right away, but you might want to forego the yogurt if you’re going to try for a less-moist version.  Next time, I might also try using more almond flour, or subbing it out altogether for coconut flour, which absorbs moisture much better and might give it a more bread-like texture.

Like I said, this one’s a little different… but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.  I was a little skeptical about how moist it looked at first, but the taste is really delicious, so I don’t have any complaints whatsoever.  It may not be exactly like every other banana bread I’ve tried, but hey, it’s good to switch things up every once in a while!


Keeping It Interesting

One of the best ways to keep life interesting when it comes to food is to mix things up.  I often use many of the same basic ingredients and use spices to change the flavors of certain dishes, but alternating what kinds of meats, vegetables, and textures you use are also great ways to create variety. 

Because I’m still trying to figure out my new schedule, this week was full of repeats for me, but it wasn’t boring at all.  At the beginning of the week, I made some spinach turkey meatballs, chicken, roasted vegetables, and cauliflower rice to have on hand as a base of foods, but the rest of the stuff I just whipped up as the week went along and I figured out what I specifically wanted each day. 

A few of my breakfasts this week consisted of plain Chobani with cinnamon and berries mixed in, but other variations on these ingredients could be overnight oats, smoothies, or yogurt mixed with other kinds of fruits, like pineapple, pears, apples, peaches, or plums.

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Another common breakfast this week was egg scrambles, like this one made with red peppers and spinach, with pineapple on the side.  Customization options for egg breakfasts are endless, including egg sandwiches, fried eggs, omelets, or egg scrambles filled with any of your favorite vegetables.  My favorite things to add to egg scrambles are tomatoes, peppers, and spinach, but you might also like onions, mushrooms, ham, bacon, or cheese.

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I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of the cauliflower rice, but I used it a couple of times this week, and I was absolutely thrilled with the addition. 

Here, I sautéed zucchini, tomatoes, chicken, and spices ahead of time and stored it in the fridge.  When I was ready to eat it, I threw it all back into a pan with some olive oil and the cauliflower rice and let it cook together for a few minutes.  The cauliflower was almost like a couscous, and I thought it was a fantastic change.  The texture added a whole new dimension to the usual chicken, tomatoes, and zucchini that I eat frequently, and I was very pleased. 

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Another day, I cooked up some peppers and then tossed them, a few spinach turkey meatballs, some sliced tomatoes, and spinach in a pan to heat it all up.  It was good, but I’d been-there-done-that before.

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So on another day, I tossed meatballs, tomatoes, and peppers in a pan with the cauliflower rice and a bit of olive oil like before, and then threw it all over a handful of spinach.  Again, the rice added a really great texture change, and even though I ate meatballs with spinach, peppers, and tomatoes three times this week, this time felt totally different!

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Like with my food, I really try to switch up my workouts in order to keep them interesting too.  You’ve probably caught on to my basic template by now (unless you just skip over the workout parts of my posts, which is totally fine too), but here’s what it generally looks like:

  1. Warm-up
  2. Strength
  3. Workout
  4. Other random stuff – Legs/arms/skill/mobility/etc.
  5. Core
  6. Cool-down

So even though the format – or the basic ingredients – are pretty much the same each day, what keeps it fun and interesting are the little changes I’m constantly making. 

Here’s what some of the variety has looked like this week:

Wednesday:

  1. Warm-up
  2. Deadlifts:
    1. 15 @ 85#, 12 @ 105#, 8 @ 125#, 5 @ 145#
    2. {5 @ 165#} x3, 5 @ 145#
  3. Workout (10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1): @ 55#
    1. Squat clean, Shoulder press, OH squats
  4. Run 1 mile
  5. 100 Crunches
  6. Cool-down

  Thursday:

  1. Warm-up 
  2. Front squats:
    1. Warm-up
    2. 5 @ 135, 3 @ 155, 1 @ 175, 2 @ 155, 5 @ 135
    3. {7 @ 95} x5
  3. Workout: Prowler pushes to opposite wall between each of the following exercises:
    1. 25 Push-ups; 25 Ball slams; 25 Crunches; 25 DB swings; 25 Air squats; 25 Box jumps
  4. 200 Jump ropes
  5. @ 35lbs:
    1. 20-15-10-5 Shoulder presses + Bent over rows
    2. 20-15-10-5 RDLs + Upright rows
    3. 50 Back squats
  6. 100 Swiss ball crunches; 100 Weighted side bends
  7. Cool down

Friday:

  1. Warm-up
  2. Strength:
    1. 12×4 Bent over rows + 12 Bench presses @ 55lbs
    2. 12×4 Back extensions @ 10lbs + 20 Obliques
    3. 12×4 Bent over front raises + 12 Upright rows @ 35lbs
    4. 12×4 Chest flies + Close-grip bench presses @ 20lbs
  3. Workout (15min AMRAP – 8 rounds @ 35lbs):
    1. 10 Thrusters
    2. 15 Front box jump overs
  4. 100 Crunches
  5. Cool-down: 5-10 minute walk

As you can see, it’s constantly varying!  And in a life where things seem to always be the same (eat, sleep, work, gym, repeat), it’s the little things that keep it interesting. 

Questions:

What little things do you do to keep life from becoming too routine?

How do you spice up your meals and workouts?


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