Monday, October 31, 2011

SPOTLIGHT ON: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins by Janel

One of my dietitian colleagues, who resides all the way on the east coast, produced a quick, easy, and delicious recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I made them yesterday and loved the taste...and especially loved how easy it was to make them. What caught my attention in Janel's blog was that she mentioned it was vegan.  I am not vegan, but I'm always open to trying new things that are good for you and taste good all at the same time. Janel's recipe won't disappoint you. 

I'm embarrassed, because my picture does not do justice to Janel's recipe.  Pictures on her blog look much better.  I'm sure this is because she used a mixer that it gave the muffins a smoother, fluffier look versus me just hand-mixing mine, but the taste is still delicious!  For Janel's recipe, CLICK HERE .

Janel Ovrut Funk works in corporate wellness, is an adjunct professor for Boston Conservatory, and has been quoted in media including Shape, Prevention, Today's Dietitian, Chicago Tribune, and FITNESS Magazine. Please visit Janel's blog at as well as her website at

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Mexican Grande Avocados from my tree.

Many patients have told me over the years that they try to stay away from avocados, because it is "fattening".  Well, the truth is, the fruit itself does not make anyone fat. The honest truth is that avocados do contain a high amount of fat. The good news is that the type of fat this fruit contains is mostly monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat is the heart healthy fat that does help in lowering our bad cholesterol. Therefore, no need to fear eating avocados JUST as long as it is consumed in moderation. (You'll notice that "moderation" is a word I love to use in talking about food.)

Another important nutrient avocados contain is potassium. Avocados contain a good amount of this important nutrient.  Potassium is involved in muscle activity. We lose potassium through producing sweat from running for more than an hour doing other prolonged aerobic activities.

For a post meal after those long runs, include avocados in small pieces in your salad.  Although avocado is considered a fruit, because it doesn't taste sweet, it lends itself to tasting more like a vegetable. Avocados also do taste delicious in a sandwich. Don't be afraid of the avocados!  Your heart will be thankful you had some. One more thing, there are a wide variety of avocados out there, so explore the wonderful world of avocados if you haven't already.

What is your favorite way of enjoying avocados?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


One of the many blessings of life is being able to go on long runs with friends. The camaraderie is always heartwarming.  Also, it is a wonderful feeling to share your passion with friends when you are running together.

On the other hand, I also cherish my short runs in which I run by myself.  In reality though, I am not running by myself on those short runs.  Christ said in Hebrews 13:5, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you".  So, there you have it.  Jesus is right there beside us even on when we are running with no other human being next to us. This is the time I also love talking to God. (I don't like listening to music when I run. I enjoy soaking in the peace and quiet.) There are times I don't even want to discuss anything with Him, but just thank Him over and over again for the endless blessings He always gives. It is also the time when I just praise Him for who He is.  What a great feeling to know that my number One Best Friend is always with me wherever I go.

It varies for all of us when we talk to God.  When are the times you're able to talk to Him in your day?

Monday, October 24, 2011

MY FAVORITE THINGS: PowerBar Energy Blasts

For those runs that last more than an hour, replacing sodium and potassium, lost through sweating, will help anyone feel better and last longer.  (This of course is in addition to replenishing with water and carbohydrates during a run.) Many of us then oblige to this replacement requirement with the newest "sports products" out there. 

I used to take sport gels with me on my runs, but found out really soon what a sticky mess I am always left in.  Some people don't mind the stickiness of gels.  I could live with it if that's all I had. Then there are also sports jelly beans.  They're alright. Definitely not sticky. However, what I learned to love, love, love on my long runs are one of two chews.  In this post, I will talk about the first chew that I encountered first. 

I really like the taste of PowerBar Energy Blasts.  Not sticky at all even though the center is filled with gel. One pouch contains nine chews, which provides about 45 gms of carbohydrate.  Experts recommend that endurance aerobic activities lasting for more than an hour should entail consuming 30 to 60 gms of carbohydrate per hour, so having one pouch will provide that need.  In addition, the chews provide reasonable amounts sodium and potassium.  However, they may feel a little bulky at first in your running pack, but then of course, it whittles down. They come with caffeine or no caffeine. I always choose the no caffeine choice, because caffeine makes my heart beat faster. This is definitely a feeling I don't need on a run!  The flavor that doesn't have caffeine is raspberry, and it is delicious.  This is one of my favorite things that has made my long runs much more enjoyable!


What sports gel, jelly bean, or chews do you prefer to use on your long runs and why?                        

Friday, October 21, 2011

RECIPE: Cashew Pita Pizza

Here goes my first original recipe for this blog!  This "pizza" does not take long to put together.  If you can make your own home made basil pesto sauce ahead of time, that would be best. Buying basil pesto from the store is very high in sodium, so if you are using store bought pesto sauce, please use a very thin layer. Otherwise, you will have a pizza tasting too salty. 

This recipe is for one 
pita pizza using a six inch pita bread, which may be enough for one person depending on other food items eaten in the meal.  However, others may want to consume two. Therefore, just multiply the recipe as needed.

Preheat oven at 415 degrees.


  • 1 Whole wheat pita bread
  • 1 Tbsp of basil pesto sauce (if store bought, use only 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp Pepperjack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cashews, chopped
  • 1 tsp Onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp Cilantro, chopped

Place the pita bread on a cookie sheet.  Spread the pesto sauce onto the pita bread.  Sprinkle the pepperjack cheese, cashews, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro on top of the pesto sauce layer.  Bake in the oven for 7 minutes or until cheese has melted.

This would be ideal to be included as part of a recovery meal after a long run.  The pita pizza a good amount of complex carbohydrates and protein.

What has your experience been using other nuts on your home-made pizza?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: Our Bodies, the Temple Of God

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:18 and 19 "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's".  This passage in the Bible tells us that God lives in us.  As a result of what this passage says, I have always been encouraged to take care of myself not only to maintain good health, but because God bought me with a price.  He suffered so much for me, so that I can one day live eternally with Him.  Part of taking care of my body is to make healthy, nutritious choices of what I put into my body and to make sure exercise, such as running, is part of my regular regimen.  Honoring God in our lives is definitely a priority worth striving for.

How do you honor God in your life?

PRODUCT REVIEW: Another Sandwich Spread Option

Mayonnaise has always been an American favorite on sandwiches.  This is a condiment that is not on the skinny side, but is full of fat.  However, when mayonnaise is spread on a sandwich as a very thin layer, then this situation is fine contributing minimal calories and fat giving flavor and moisture to the sandwich.

Another tasty option to try is Vegenaise (Soy-free version).  It is made of pea protein with no dairy or egg products.  Vegenaise looks and spreads like mayonnaise, but does not melt like mayonnaise.  The flavor is delicious and similar to mayonnaise, but not exactly the same.  As far as calories is concerned though, it has almost twice as many calories compared to mayonnaise per tablespoon.  Fat content and saturated fat content is not  drastically different.  The same goes for sodium content.  Sodium content is comparable.  Regardless whether it is Vegenaise or mayonnaise, the sodium content is low per serving.

Therefore, if you just want to try a different spread for a post-long run sandwich, I suggest giving Vegenaise a chance.

If you have tried any Vegenaise products, what are your thoughts?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cycling Helps Running

Zanja Trail

My friend, Naara, and I have always loved mountain biking.  However, we placed mountain biking in the back burner when we started running more and then when we trained for our first full marathon.  The smartest thing we should have done was to keep sticking in the mountain biking rides in between our short and long runs.

After our full marathon this past June, we resumed our mountain and road biking, but of course, still running.  It is so true what they say about cross training.  Cross training does enable strengthening other muscles that do not get used as much when you're focusing on just one sport.  I feel that I'm a better runner now with stronger muscles, because we have been consistent with the mountain biking.   

Although we'll be resuming getting ready for our upcoming half and full marathons next year, we will for sure keep the mountain biking in as part of our training regimen!


What does your cross training regimen consist of?

Friday, October 7, 2011

PRODUCT REVIEW: Daiya Cheese Alternative

We can run as much as we want, but just because we run on a regular basis, does it mean that we automatically have healthy hearts with clean arteries?  Our unhealthy food choices can clog up our arteries and affect our hearts despite all our efforts to run faithfully.  This is why it is important for us to cut corners wherever we can when it comes to food that are high in saturated fat.  Saturated fat, which is found in animal products and coconut, is the culprit that elevates our bad cholesterol.  If our bad cholesterol levels remain elevated, that can possibly lead to heart disease and eventually a heart attack.

I love cheese! It is loaded with saturated fat.  I won't deprive myself of it though.  However, whenever I can at home, I try to use products that are lower in saturated fat, so that when I do go out to eat every now and then, I can enjoy the real deal in moderation.

I first tried, Daiya, a cheese alternative, at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo a couple weeks ago in San Diego.  I was impressed with it from the first bite.  The next week, I bought some at Clark's Natural Food Market.  I placed some on a piece of pita bread topped with my favorite toppings, and I was pleased.  It tasted just as good as it did at the food show.  The Daiya cheese alternative does melt, not exactly like real cheese, but it does melt.  It is not a low fat food item; however, the saturated fat content in Daiya is much lower than regular cheese.  This is a plus!

The only drawback with Daiya is that it is higher in sodium than regular cheese.  If your blood pressure is high, this may not be the best choice for you.  On the other hand, if you do choose to have it, use a small portion of it.  However, for an endurance runner, after a good long run losing electrolytes, this wouldn't be a bad option for you to include in a recovery meal.   

For those who are vegetarian and are allergic to soy, this is a good product to have on board.  For those who are vegan, there is no dairy product added in Daiya cheese alternatives.  Just remember, it is much higher in sodium, but just like everything else, consume on a moderation basis.


If you have tried any Daiya products, what are your thoughts on it?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

PB & J Sandwich Tip

I am thankful numerous friends shared their first marathon tips with me.  I went ahead and followed one of the nutrition tips that sounded reasonable to me.  It sure helped me.  Who knows.  Maybe this tip can help you too.  Cheers!


What first marathon tips have been given to you by either family or friends?

Saturday, October 1, 2011


In my daily walk with God, I see how important it is to spend time with Him every day.  He told the woman at the well that the water He provides gives us life. This story can be found in the fourth chapter of John.  Spending time in God's word, by reading the Bible daily and talking to Him, results in me receiving the water of life from Him.  As a result, my days are manageable, because I have Him living inside of me.

Just like we need to be watered daily with God's water of life through His word, we need to drink adequate amounts of physical water daily.  Regular water intake circulates oxygen through our bodies decreasing the chances of our bodies feeling lethargic and having headaches.  Daily adequate water consumption also aides in helping us run better. If you have an early morning run and head out the door without drinking anything, you will be in trouble resulting in dehydration during your long run.  Set the alarm for a couple hours before you run.  Drink two cups of water. You won't regret doing this.

Drink daily of God's word and drink daily of the best beverage that is out there to drink...water.

How do you spend time with God?