October 24, 2014

The alternative peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Pretty much every year for forever, the kids have had someone in their school class with a peanut butter allergy. And with me being a kind-of-embarrassed-to-admit-that-i-only-cook-when-necessary mom, pb&js are a staple in this house. When I was pregnant with the twins and would get nauseated just looking at food coupons (not a joke), I set up a pb&j survival station in our kitchen so that the older two kids could make their own and live through nine months of me not being able to walk into the kitchen.

So what do you do when for an entire school year, you cannot pack your standard go-to sandwich? You think of an alternative.

Here are some things we tried that the kids didn't go for:
  • Just a jelly sandwich. Not a winner with my bunch.
  • A cream cheese sandwich. Turns out they only enjoy cream cheese when it is an ingredient in cake frosting.
  • A couple of plain pieces of cinnamon raisin bread stacked together to fake being a sandwich. Yup, they noticed that it wasn't. So no. 

Something that worked that I didn't feel great about feeding them: 
  • Nutella sandwiches. These were a hit, but without even looking at the ingredients, I can tell you that anything that tastes that addictive cannot be good for you. Look away from the Nutella. 

I know what you're thinking (or at least what I'm thinking), but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches aren't that healthy for your kid either. But they at least cover some of the bases, like protein and sugar-coated fruit. We all have to draw the line somewhere. I draw the line at is this easy enough that a six year old can do it and does it have regular ole processed sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. See? Standards are important.

So I came up with the chia seed and jelly sandwich. Yes, it warrants the giant font. 


We all know chia seeds are magic because we read about it in Born to Run, which btw if you have not read, get on it! Just throw the words Aztec superfood around a few times, and bam, people are crazy go nuts for chia seeds.

But here are the facts.


Versus peanut butter.


The chia sees don't have as much protein or potassium as peanut butter, but they have more fiber, magnesium, calcium and iron. So it's a good swap for us. 

We buy chia seeds in bulk and store them in jars. So when it's time to make the sandwich, I just scoop out a tablespoon and carefully pour it onto a slice of bread, and then I scoop out jelly on top of it and slowly mix the seeds into the jelly. I say carefully because chia seeds can easily roll off and make a giant mess. It would be smart to premix the jelly and chia seeds before making the sandwich, but I haven't made it that far yet. 


So what do the kids think? They love it. Really, they have not complained once that they are tired of Aztec superfoods, and we packed this sandwich for lunch every day this week.

Artwork created under the influence of chia seed and jelly sandwiches.

Do you or your kids pack a lunch? 

What is your go-to lunchbox food? 

October 16, 2014

Crusher Ridge, Nashville Half, and a new dog

When life throws you a hundred frisbees at once, you're going to drop some of them. You can guess at least one of the ones I dropped by my sporadic posting on el blog.

One of those frisbees (which I am hopefully not dropping) is the planning for Crusher Ridge 5K/21K/42K, wrapping up with race day in a week and a half. Go here to sign up or check out the competition. There will be prizes for the top men and women and a post-race raffle of Oiselle awesomeness and other Alabama Outdoors goodies.

Part of planning a race is exploring the race course. Which is always more fun with friends!




With a couple miles to go, we accidentally irritated some hornets. I got stung once on the leg, and I think it tried to sting my calf. But I was wearing my compression socks, and they blocked the sting. Take that, hornets. Well, sort of, except one week later, this is the size of the sting on the back of my leg. It was super itchy, on the same I-want-to-claw-my-skin-off level as poison ivy itchiness. Somehow, this was my first ever trail running stinging insect run-in. 


And on the not-race-planning side of things, I picked up this book from the Bell Center fundraiser at Resolute Running. Local artists donated their goods for auction, with all proceeds going to help the kids who use the Bell Center, an early intervention center for kids who are at risk for developmental delays. Trail Magic is a memoir, written by a Birmingham author/graphic artist, about an epic, 3K-mile bike ride. There is a possibility that by the end of the first chapter I was dreaming about a bike riding adventure. Between that and hiking the Appalachian Trail, my dreams are getting pretty booked.


And when I wasn't reading, running, dreaming up ridiculous adventures, and kitchen renovating (we are so close to being done!), I was spending time with family. 

Date night!

Grandpa visit in Kentucky

Aunt visit in Alabama

Pumpkin carving with the relatives!

And we are now the caretakers of a new-to-us dog. Our cousins found the sweetest dog in the woods by their farm. After trying unsuccessfully to locate the original owner (no tag, no chip, and no one contacting the Humane Society), they let us give him a new home. We don't know what type of dog he is, although some guesses are that he is a yorkie poo or a bichon frise. He is about four years old (vet estimate) and not fixed (don't worry, Bob Barker, he is now!), which is a little strange unless he was being bred by someone.


Gorki Chine Chocolate (Gorki for short) is pretty much the opposite of our last dog, calm and happy and doesn't like to attack our friends. My husband thinks he's too much like a cat, which is exactly what I like about him! 

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On the running front, I have a 17-mile trail race this weekend at Oak Mountain State Park. I'm just in it to enjoy it, so no crazy expectations. And after all of the racing in November and October, I'm taking a long desired and awaited break. Not from exercise in general, but from racing.

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Remember the giveaway that I hosted for the Women's Running Series Nashville Half. Our winner completed the course, a success for a hot day! Here's an excerpt from her race report:

Two things I would change about this race are 1) the horrid electrolyte drink served and 2) a race bib that was simply too large - large enough to be in the way. But, there was so many more positives.  We had plenty of water stops and tons of crowd support. TONS.  Every street was closed. No one-laners for us.  Sweet. [Think about those logistics in a big tourist city.] The support we received was truly spectacular. Never having been to Nashville, this was a great way to see the city.



For her full report, check out her blog at hohoruns.blogspot.com!

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How is your fall race schedule shaping up? Are you winding up or winding down? I really need this wind down time.

Ever been stung while out running? (don't try it!)

Are you a dog or cat family? Or a fish family? Or none of the above? We were a fish family after we lost our previous dog a few years ago. But hopefully we can merge seamlessly back into being a dog family.

October 3, 2014

I'm directing my first race (!!!) -- plus Red Mountain Xterra 9 Miler results/recap

I looked up, and suddenly, it's been two weeks since I've posted here. In the meantime, the following sliver of life has been happening, plus so much more (like ten million piles of laundry) that is not picture worthy.

1. Testing new headphones that I bought with some Life Time bucks (basically like free money you get for doing things like referring your friends to the gym -- which BTW, if you have Life Time in your area and are interested, I have a joining discount code for you if you message me!!). Pros: love the cloth cord and that they stay in my ear. Sound is decent to good, not as good as my last Klipsch headphones that got destroyed in the washing machine. And the yurbuds are waterproof, so no more death by washing machine. Cons: no volume/music controls on the headphones themselves. I think other models have that feature. 


2. Slowly freaking out less and less each time a foot or drop of food touches our new kitchen floors. Who here is so nervous for about two weeks that you have anything new? Then inevitably someone accidentally partially destroys it on day two, and you can relax knowing that it probably won't get any worse.



3. Still freaking out, but in a good way, for all my friends who are nailing their fall(ish) races. This lady set something like a 15-minute marathon PR. That's not messing around!


4. "Happily" standing in line dressed as pirates in exchange for free doughnuts. Four dozen free doughnut secured, and it took less than 12 hours to eat them all. That was not with permission, by the way. All four children claimed they had eaten two, but somehow four dozen were gone. The mysterious life of a pirate. Argghh!




5. Etch-a-sketching at church.


6. Finding out live at the party what your kids wrapped as presents for their little cousin's birthday. Random assortments picked from their own toy pile are the sweetest kid presents. 


7. Discovering great local art at the Bell Center fundraiser at Resolute Running. Loved all of the Alabama Theater art! Equally excited to be going there to see St. Paul & The Broken Bones there next month. 


8. Directing a race. This is the craziest of all the goings ons. My friend Mary and I just stepped up randomly to help with a great race that needed a little last-minute guidance this year, and suddenly, we are the race directors. Note to self: that's what happens when you open your saucy mouth with opinions. The race is Crusher Ridge 5K/21K/42K on October 26th. My favorite part so far is that we're partnering with the Exceptional Foundation whose participants are making custom medals for the race. 



Basically, we just love this race and Ruffner Mountain (the race location), and we want to see this race carry on long into the future. So go sign up here to run!

9. And of course, I have been racing!! My wobbly legs and insatiable appetite can vouch for that. This weekend was the three-day stage race (more on that in the next post), but before that, I decided to throw in another last-minute race at Red Mountain, the Xterra 9 Mile


I drove over expecting it to be a small, quiet affair, but the parking lot was packed from the moment I pulled in. 




You could choose between a 4.5 miler and a 9 miler. With the stage race coming up, which included a day at the same mountain, I decided to get in some distance with the 9-er.

The race started off fast down a mile-long, flat jeep road before you wind up onto the trail and into some elevation. The course was well marked with two aid stations per 4.5-mile loop. The first loop went around the outside of the park, where the trails are wider and easier to spread out on. After the shorter distance folks peeled off to finish, we doubled around to the interior loop of the park, aka Ike, aka the trail with the sign that reads "most difficult." The second loop was definitely more challenging than the first, but I was super happy that the long course wasn't just two identical loops and that they made use of more trails at the park.


I was in second place after the first loop, but on that long straight road, two girls passed me. Looks like I need to work on my flat-road-running game. Or just on my game in general. Because I knew those girls weren't too far in front of me and another lady was right behind me, I pushed myself pretty hard in the second half. I was full-on trail sprinting (not as fast as normal sprinting) the last mile. The whole time I tried to channel all the power I could from recent speedwork sessions. Move, legs, move. I ended up with 1:27:20 and in 4th place for the ladies, with another girl finishing about a minute ahead of me and one more finishing about 30 seconds behind me. Pretty tight finish times make for fun races!

Here's all of the race swag (minus the shirt!).




Run this race if: you want a mix of wide and single track trails with plenty of aid stations and enough elevation change to make it interesting. You'll get to compete against a relatively large field for a trail race, and the Dirty Spokes/Xterra race director, Tim, does a great job keeping things moving and on schedule!