ANZAC Biscuits

In our search to find palatable athlete snacks, sometimes we let nutrition fall through the cracks of the fence. The Dingo Fence, that is.

Yes, today's post and accompanying recipe are sponsored by Australia and our own teammate Luke, who kindly emailed me the recipe for ANZAC biscuits. What are ANZAC biscuits?

Good question. First of all, a biscuit is also a cookie. But a cookie is not necessarily a biscuit. You follow me? I didn't think so. These particular biscuits/cookies were baked by the wives of the Australia-New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) back in WWI out of concern for their soldiers' potential lack of nutrition. 

If it's nutrition you are after, these little bis-cookies are not a bad choice. They have rolled oats (a good source of slow-burning carbs) and unsweetened coconut (good fats). I substituted some spelt flour in place of regular white flour (no one noticed). Spelt is a low-gluten flour and higher in fiber. As for sugar....well... there's a lot. Mostly due to this crazy syrup that is apparently a requirement for ANZAC biscuits:

It's called Lyle's Golden Syrup, and you can find it at Fairway. It has the consistency of glue and could give Diabetes to a horse. However, it is downright delicious, and it adds a light caramel flavor to these cookies. Plus, I only used 2 tablespoons, so it's totally fine. Especially for athletes on the move! 

Which brings me to my next point. You can now celebrate ANZAC Day all year long, with this cookie recipe. Make them and bring them on your bike rides — they're the perfect long ride pick-me-up. Here's the how-to:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour - or try SPELT flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

Directions

  1. Mix oats, flour, sugar and coconut together.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the syrup and butter together. Mix the soda and the boiling water and add to the melted butter and syrup.
  3. Add butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Drop by teaspoons on greased or parchment lined cookie sheets.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Full Throttle Nutrition Line Launches!

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We at Full Throttle have a very exciting announcement: we've launched a performance nutrition line featuring an Endurance Fuel and a Whey Protein. Both of these items have been produced in conjunction with our sponsor, AgroLabs

To properly kick-start this new venture, we are hosting a Protein Shake Day at the Chelsea Piers NY Cafe, this Wednesday, February 11. We will be giving out free protein shakes from 7-10am. 

The featured shake will be "The Drew", named after our own FTE coach, Andrew Kalley. The Drew features the following ingredient combinations:

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If you'd like to create "The Drew" on your own, combine all the above ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Enjoy after your workout!

Tips:  Store banana chunks in the freezer to keep them ready. Don’t feel like brewing coffee? Mix in a tablespoon of instant espresso powder instead.

Nutritional Benefits: 
Bananas
are potassium-packed, which replenish your depleated stores of this element after a workout, rebalancing your electrolytes.

Almond butter is high in protein and won’t spike your blood sugar. It also supplies healthy (monounsaturated) fats.

Almond milk is a low-calorie drink rich in omega fatty acids and fiber. It’s a great dairy-free alternative to milk and fiber. It’s a great dairy-free alternative to milk.

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To order your FTE nutrition follow these links:

FTE Agrolabs Sport Whey Protein: http://agrolabs.com/site/100-whey-protein/
FTE Agrolabs Sport Endurance Fuel: http://agrolabs.com/site/endurance-fuel/

Spice Up Your Holiday Season

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Happy Holidays! In the spirit of the holidays, I'm keeping this post short and sweet. Very sweet, in fact.

To warm you up over the holidays, I have a special Full Throttle Hot Chocolate recipe.

Why is it special?

Because I made it.

Because it is spicy...like many of you.

Because it is mildly healthy.

So while you are all enjoying your off seasons by lolling on the couch and using water noodles in the pool (maybe that's just me...), you can guiltlessly work this hot chocolate recipe into your "recovery" diets and couch lolling. Let's proceed:

What You Need:

Serves 2

2 cups of milk (you can use any percent of fat you prefer, I like to use almond milk)
2 tablespoons of UNSWEETENED cocoa powder (if you have it CACAO powder)
2 tablespoon sugar (coconut sugar is best, but any will do)
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

What You Do:

Throw all the ingredients in a small pot at the same time (I love recipes with those instructions). Turn the heat to medium-low and stir with a wire wisk until all the ingredients are incorporated into the milk.

Let the mixture heat up - but don't let it boil.

Pour into mugs and serve immediately topped with the marshmallows.

A Building Year with Tiramisu

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Have you heard the phrase, "it's a building year"? This is sometimes applied to sports teams when they are rearranging their players because of trades, training up the rookies, and generally ironing out the kinks.

Recently this phrase was used to describe my current triathlon season. Injuries and health issues have forced me to have a different season that I wanted. Initially, I was not pleased with this description.

But time out for sports (and desserts), people. Isn't every year a building year? Is there a year when you stop and think, AH-HA! This is the one, the icing on the cake, the final layer...and after this...well, after this—what? There will be no improvements? I can just wait for the cool embrace of death?

Sorry to be blunt, but if that's the case, then I certainly hope every year is a building year.

Take for example, this tiramisu recipe. I created it for Triathlete Magazine as a healthy alternative to traditional tiramisu, which aside from being delicious, has very little nutritional value. This one does, however. It's packed with healthy proteins from almond flour, chia seeds and Greek yogurt.

But the best part of this tiramisu is the assembly. Don't be intimidated, it's a process. Layers of solid cake are stacked on top of squishy yogurt filling, unstable strawberries (anti-oxidants and vitamin C!), and rickety, toasted almonds.

Building it requires patience and a very steady hand. As soon as you place that strawberry on top, the whole thing veers to one side all Leaning Tower of Pisa-esque until—EGADS!—it's fallen over and the filling issmooshed all over the place.

This is especially awesome when you are trying to photograph it for a professional magazine. You can imagine the cursing. But don't, there might be children present.

As many times as I built it up, it fell over. I did finally get it to stand, clicked a few photos and then ate the whole thing. 

I can report that this tiramisu is just as good on it's side as standing straight up.

Which brings me back...to me. This year it's felt like every time I stack up another layer, the whole apparatus comes tumbling down. But I think I can say this: Like the tiramisu, I'm just as good lying on my side (my bike several feet away) and cursing (again, don't imagine it) as I am standing up and on a podium (only the podiums in my mind this year...).

And so are you.

So raise a fork to building years, I hope we both continue to have them. And make this recipe for HealthyTiramisu. You can follow the recipe below, but it would tickle me if you'd go check out the latest edition ofTriathlete Magazine, page 88.

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INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

4 eggs, separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites

Tbsp lemon zest, packed

1/2 cup sugar, divided 1/4 cup and 1/4 cup

1 1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar

Pinch of salt

For the filling:

½ cup almond milk

½ cup plain, non-fat greek yogurt

⅓ cup chia seeds

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

For the crunchy almond layer:

¾ cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons of water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

Extras:

3 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder dissolved in 1/3 cup hot water

¼ cup cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder if you can’t find cacao)

1 pint strawberries, sliced

cacao nibs (optional)

METHOD

First, bake the cake. I wanted a flat cake so that I could layer my tiramisu. To achieve this, I baked my cake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, so I could spread the batter thinly.

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line the bottom of a cookie sheet (preferably the kind that has sides) with parchment paper, and spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with butter.

2 In a large bowl, stir together with a wooden spoon or whisk the egg yolks, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.

3 In a separate bowl, or a food processor, blend the almond flour and baking powder.  Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat until just smooth.

4 In a very clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer. When bubbles start to form, add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of vinegar (these ingredients help the egg whites stay firm as you add sugar). As the egg whites begin to increase in volume, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, a little at a time, as you continue to beat the eggs whites.  Beat until soft peaks form. It’s important to add the sugar a little at a time, as the sugar may cause the egg whites to fall.

5 With a rubber spatula, fold the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture a little at a time.  I started with a small amount of egg whites to loosen up the almond flour mixture, which can become firm. After this, you can add the egg whites in large scoops, folding to incorporate it all.

6 Pour the batter onto the prepared cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. The edges will turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. With a sharp knife, slice the cake into serving-size rectangles, and set aside. You can make the cake ahead and freeze it for up to a week. To do this, assemble the sliced cake into layers, placing a piece of parchment paper between each layer (the paper will help the layers not stick to each other). Wrap the sets of cake with foil and store in the freezer until ready to use.

Make the filling:

1. In a small bowl add the ⅓ cup chia seeds to ½ cup almond milk. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight. You want the chia seeds to expand, creating a pudding-like consistency. (Note: you can keep this in the fridge for up to a week, stirring it into all kinds of things like oatmeal and smoothies, so feel free to make more!).

2. Once the chia seeds have expanded, add the 1 teaspoon almond extract and the tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar to the mixture and stir thoroughly.

3. Add in the ½ cup of greek yogurt, and stir to combine. Set aside (you can store this in the fridge as well).

Prepare the almonds:

1. In a skillet over medium heat, dissolve the brown sugar in the water. Add in the spices and the almonds and allow to simmer gently, stirring constantly.

2. When most of the water has absorbed, spread the almonds onto a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool and dry completely. The almonds will be sticky and they will stick together – this is ok! And tasty, too.

Assembly:

1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of instant coffee or espresso powder in ⅓ cup hot water.

2. Place one piece of cake on plate. With a pastry brush, brush the top of the cake with the coffee.

3. Place a few clusters of candied almonds on top of the cake.

4. Arrange some sliced strawberries on top of the almonds.

5. Spoon the chia seed/alomond milk/greek yogurt mixture on top of the strawberries and dust the cacao powder (I use a tea strainer loaded with cacao powder for a nice, even dusting).

6. Repeat! Challenge yourself to see how high you can stack them! Top with a few cacao nibs (optional) and a whole strawberry.

For more healthy recipes, check out John and Elana Talk About Food

Rinny's Racecakes

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 Recently, I had the great good fortune to meet two pro triathletes: Mirinda Carfrae and Tim O'Donnell. 

Chelsea Piers hosted a Q & A event with the tri-sport stars and "Rinny" and "TO" good-naturedly indulged us while we peppered them with ridiculous questions like,

"How do you stay motivated?" and, "What do you eat before a race?"

To this last question, Mirinda admitted that she eats cupcakes before her races. Cupcakes. With icing. Specifically, she liked Whole Foods' gluten-free cupcakes. She mentioned something about them being a perfect amount of calories and sugar — topping off what was hopefully a nutrient-rich diet the previous day.

Here I am eating oatmeal before I race, like a sucker, and Mirinda is chowing down on cupcakes. Later on, I questioned her privately, "You really eat cupcakes before a race?" 

"She has a food blog, she might write about this!" a bystander cautioned Mirinda before she could answer.

At this, Tim piped up and said I should make them for the blog and call them "Rinny's Racecakes".

And so, I have. All the credit goes to Rinny for the idea and TO for the name.

Now, these cakes are a little different. They are gluten-free, but they're made with beets which keeps them extra moist, and some say the Nitric Oxide in beets translates to better athletic performance...I'll try anything.

The sea salt topping is for extra electrolytes, which can't hurt on those hot summer race days.

Finally, how to get them to a race. If you're lucky enough to be eating at home beforehand, then you don't have this problem. But if you need to take your breakfast with you, you need to accomplish two things: 

1. Minimize frosting mess.

2. Prevents cupcake squish (a real phenomenon.

To solve the first problem, I sliced the cupcakes in half and frosted them sandwich style. Easy!

For issue the second, I converted a simple bottle of Smart Water into a cupcake tote. Instructions follow!

What You Need:

For the Cake:

1-1/2 cups almond meal

½ cup brown rice flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1-1/2 cups turbinado sugar

2/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

4 small red beets, roasted

3 eggs

½ cup almond milk

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Colavita)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

1-2 tablespoons of water

1 8oz package of vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya - I swear it's good)

2 1/2 tablespoons of PB2 peanut butter powder (I used the chocolate flavor)

2-3 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar (depending on your need to sweetness

For the Top:

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Process:

First, deal with the beets. I admit to being lazy and bought mine pre-roated. I've got a lot on my mind pre-race and I don't really want to bother with roasting things, whatever they are. However, if you'd like to roast, here's how to do it:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the beets in half and wrap them in aluminum foil.

Place the wrapped beets in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft when pierced through the center with a knife.

Remove the beets from the oven, allow to cool and then peel the skins off. Chop them into cubes.

Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.

Place the cooled, chopped beets in a blender with the almond milk and puree until very smooth - so smooth you could drink it.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cacao powder and turbinado sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil and vanilla extract.

Add the pureed beets to the egg mixture and mix to combine. Pour the wet beet mixture into the mixing bowl with all of the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Prepare a cupcake tin by lining with cupcake paper or greasing with non-stick baking spray.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the frosting:

Place the cream cheese, peanut butter powder, water and sugar in a medium bowl. With a hand-held mixer, beat until smooth. It's best to add just a little water at a time, so the mixture doesn't get runny. It should be the consistency of frosting.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, slice them in half cross-wise with a sharp knife and sandwich in some frosting on the bottom half. Place the top back on and garnish the top with the pink Himalayan sea salt (extra electrolytes!).

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How to make the water bottle carrier:

What You Need:

1 bottle of Smart Water (drink the water first, you'll need to be hydrated anyway if you're racing)

1 exacto knife

Parchment paper for lining in between the cupcakes

What to Do:

With the exacto, slice the bottle of water around the middle so you have two same-sized pieces. 

On the top half, make a small vertical cut, like the tails of a suit jacket. This will allow you to fit the top half into the bottom half.

Place a finished cupcake in the bottom half of the bottle. 

Place a piece of parchment on top of the cupcake.

Keep stacking cupcakes and parchment alternately until it seems unwise to continue.

Secure the top half of the bottle over the bottom. 

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Race breakky to go!

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Get Back Up Again with Farro

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I've had a few biking "incidents" lately. These things happen. And luckily, they haven't been too serious. However, they don't really make you feel excited, or happy, or all, "woooo TIGER BLOOD, I'm WINNING!!"

No. They sorta make you feel slow. And slightly stupid. And owchy. And couldn't Johnson & Johnson make the bandaid size that you need (tarp-sized, please), instead of 1,298 sizes that won't work??

Just a suggestion.

And here's another suggestion: taxed muscles, whether from training or from a fall need some recovery and repair. Nutritionally speaking, a good way to get that is through protein. This month, I was featured in Triathlete Magazine's June issue with two sneaky protein-rich recipes.

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Sneaky? Yes, they're sneaky because they don't contain meat or fancy protein powders. They contain farro. Farro is a grain that is very high in protein (about 6 grams per 1/2 cup of cooked farro). And you can use it to make any number of things, like the Coconut Farro Oatmeal or Fig Cookies with farro crust.

The recipe for the Coconut Farro Oatmeal is below. For the fig cookies, go check out Triathlete Magazine!

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 cup farro

2 cups coconut milk (not the condensed stuff, the other kind) plus additional for serving

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

2 rounded tablespoons of ground flax seeds

¼ cup dried cranberries

½ cup fresh blueberries

¼ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened preferred, but you can use either)

Instructions:

Measure out the farro, ground flax seeds and coconut milk and pour them into a medium pot. Heat on medium-low on your stovetop adding in the seasonings and sweetener: maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg.

Simmer until tender and liquid is absorbed - about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat your oven (or toaster oven) to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the shredded coconut and almond slivers onto the baking sheet. Toast for about 5-8 minutes, keeping a constant watch on the progress as the nuts will toast quite quickly. Feel free to toss halfway through the baking process to ensure an even browning.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Scoop the cooked farro into serving bowls. Top with a little extra coconut milk, fresh blueberries and dried cranberries. Sprinkle with the toasted almond and coconut mixture.

A special note of thanks to all my Full Throttle teammates who have been so nice and supportive as I continually fell off my bicycle in the past week. Thanks for delivering medical supplies, making me dinner, checking in, checking in again, enduring chatter about my sprained groin...the list goes on. You guys are the best.

For more recipes from the Triathlete Kitchen, click here!

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C'Mon, Muffin!

As the weather (very) gradually warms, I'm getting outside on my bike again. I rode to Piermont, New York, recently with a teammate of mine, Bobby. As per usual, rides to Piermont involve a stop at Bunbury's Coffee Shop for a quick pick-me-up, whether in the form of caffeinated beverage or carbohydrate-filled treat. And by the latter, I refer to muffins.

The Carrot Raisin muffins at Bunbury's seemed like a good option for a half-way point snack. I usually eat only half, and store the other half in my jersey pocket for later use.

Bobby, however, ate the whole thing. I'm not calling him out on it, it's just important to the story.

A rather steep hill awaits riders almost immediately on the return trip to New York City. As we were ascending this hill, I heard Bobby exclaim forcefully, "C'mon, muffin!!"

He was not talking to me.

Rather, he was demanding of his recently ingested carrot and raisin concoction to do it's job already: get those calories in motion and get him up the hill!

Now, in my time on the Full Throttle triathlon team, I have heard teammates call upon the baby Jesus in the manger, the BVM, random assorted saints (and sinners), their parents and relations, and even OTHER people's parents and relations in an effort to make their legs move faster, express their workout-related frustration, or for no reason at all, just to make conversation.

But the idea of calling up your not yet digested food was new. And, in my opinion, quite appropriate.

So after I returned to my apartment and ate the other half of my Bunbury's muffin (along with a lot of other things), I vowed to create some biking-friendly muffins.

The following muffins are loosely based on my mom's banana bread recipe. I made it healthier, and even incorporated the Bunbury's-inspired carrots. So, c'mon, muffin – let's get baking. And biking.

Banana Carrot Pecan Muffins

What You Need:

3 overripe bananas (you can actually freeze ripe bananas for a few days, let them defrost for an hour on your counter top, and violá - you have over-ripe bananas).

1/2 package of baby golden carrots, roasted until soft (instructions below). NOTE: You can use orange carrots, I was just trying to be color-palette consistent.

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. If using a muffin tin, line with muffin wrappers, or grease the tin with cooking spray or butter.

Pour the 1/4 almond milk into a small bowl and add in the chia seeds. Allow the chia seeds to expand and get gummy. Chia seeds have essential fatty acids, omega 3's and 6's,  and the coolest of all...the word "CHIA" comes from the Mayan language and means "STRONG." Perfect for biking.

Meanwhile, roast the carrots. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until soft.

In a food processor, blend together the butter, sugar and eggs. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the bananas, roasted carrots, almond and vanilla extracts. Blend well, making sure to break up all those carrots.

Finally, add in the pecans and chocolate chips, blending just to incorporate.

Fill the muffin tins 3/4 of the way full, and top with a few more broken pecan pieces (it makes them look nice).

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife piercing the center of the muffins comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely, then stuff them in your cycling jersey and get riding!

Get more triathlete-friendly recipes at John and Elana Talk About Food.

St. Patty's Pesto

Happy St. Patrick's Day! As an Italian girl, I never got into wearing green, or sporting decorative shamrocks. So what do I to celebrate this holiday? I like to jump on board in a way that suits me...because I have many Irish friends, and I love them like an Italian girl loves...pesto.

Pesto? Yes, pesto. I choose to eat green, instead of wearing it. So today, I'm bringing you three (yes three - like a shamrock!) pesto recipes: a traditional Basil and Pine Nut, an Arugula and Pistachio (my favorite) and an unlikely Parsley and Walnut (mild and nutty).

And for a healthier version, you can leave out the Parmesan cheese, as you don't really need it. Taste as you go, however, Parmesan is a salty cheese so by leaving it out, you may want to add a bit more salt.

Let's get started:

 

Basil and Pine Nut Pesto

What you Need:

1 large bunch fresh basil
2 cloves garlic (optional, unless you feel like breathing fire for the day)
Extra Virgin olive oil - about a half a cup, but you might want to use more or less
Grated Parmesan cheese - about 3/4 cup
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts

What To Do:
Place the basil, garlic (if using) and half the olive oil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to process finely. Check the consistency. You will most likely need to add a bit more oil (throw in the rest). Now, add the cheese (if using), pine nuts, salt and pepper. Give it a few more twirls in the processor and check both the consistency and taste. Is it dry? If so, add more oil. You can also add more salt, pepper or cheese if you feel it's necessary. 

Scoop the entire mixture into a bowl and drizzle a blanket of olive oil over the top. You can either serve immediately on some toasted bread or you can stick it in the fridge and save it for later.

Arugula and Pistachio Pesto

What You Need:

1 package arugula
Extra Virgin olive oil - about a half a cup, but you might want to use more or less
Grated Parmesan cheese - about 3/4 cup (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pistachios (shelled and unsalted)

What To Do:
Place the arugula, and half the olive oil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to process finely. Check the consistency. You will most likely need to add a bit more oil (throw in the rest). Now, add the cheese (if using), pistachios, salt and pepper. Give it a few more twirls in the processor and check both the consistency and taste. Is it dry? If so, add more oil. You can also add more salt, pepper or cheese if you feel it's necessary. 

Scoop the entire mixture into a bowl and drizzle a blanket of olive oil over the top. You can either serve immediately on some toasted bread or you can stick it in the fridge and save it for later.

Parsley and Walnut Pesto

What You Need:

1 large bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley (as opposed to the curly kind)
Extra Virgin olive oil - about a half a cup, but you might want to use more or less
Grated Parmesan cheese - about 3/4 cup (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup walnuts

What To Do:
Place the parsley, and half the olive oil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to process finely. Check the consistency. You will most likely need to add a bit more oil (throw in the rest). Now, add the cheese (if using), walnuts, salt and pepper. Give it a few more twirls in the processor and check both the consistency and taste. Is it dry? If so, add more oil. You can also add more salt, pepper or cheese if you feel it's necessary. 

Scoop the entire mixture into a bowl and drizzle a blanket of olive oil over the top. You can either serve immediately on some toasted bread or you can stick it in the fridge and save it for later.

 

Now, you may be thinking, what do I do with all this pesto? It's a fair question. Here are my suggestions:

1. Top a breakfast pizza with it, like this one.

2. Add to pasta with roasted tomatoes for dinner.

3. Scramble your morning eggs with it, along with some sun dried tomatoes.

 

4. Slather it on some toasted bread (we like to call this "bruschetta").

5. Bathroom tile caulking*

6. Face mask*

7. Wet suit lube*

* Numbers 5, 6, 7 are not really recommended uses, but give them a shot and let me know what happens...

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Chocolate Almond Butter Healthier Hearts

Lately, my kitchen experiments have been focused on remaking recipes to be more healthy. However, in the name of Valentine's Day, I think it's acceptable to be slightly indulgent, even for those of us who spend our mornings doing some combination of swimming, biking and running.

I mean, let's have a cookie. A chocolate one.

The following recipe is one of my mother's favorites that I redesigned (you can read about the original here). I used mostly whole wheat flour, and not too much butter or sugar. The trick here is the cinnamon and nutmeg which make these cookies taste like hot chocolate. Cookies that taste like hot chocolate just seem like a good idea. Especially on Valentine's Day.

So, let's get to it: Chocolate Almond Butter Healthier Hearts

What You Need:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup almond butter

1 large egg

For the Chocolate tips:

8 oz semi sweet chocolate

What To Do:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.

Beat together the butter and brown sugar in either a food processor or a stand mixer.  Beat until well incorporated.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  Add the egg.  Beat on medium speed until mixture is glossy and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the almond butter and mix to combine.

Stop mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once.  Mix on low speed until all of the flour is incorporated  Stop mixer and finish incorporating ingredients with a spatula.  Spoon batter out onto a sheet of waxed paper, and form loosely into a log.  You can roll it up and chill it in the fridge for an hour to make it easier to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Once the dough is chilled, divide it in half and place one half on a lightly floured counter surface. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Break out your cookie cutters, cut out cookies and place them on the prepared baking sheet. 

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven, allow to rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

To give them fancy, chocolate tips, melt the semi sweet chocolate in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 15-20 seconds at a time, stirring between each heating. Once the chocolate is melted, dip the cooled cookies into the chocolate and place on parchment paper to dry.

Cookies will last, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to five days.

If chocolate isn't your thing, you can always go with pizza...yes, yes, I'm fairly predictable in my culinary selections. HOWEVER, your heart will love this pizza recipe: whole wheat crust topped with beet chips and spinach. Here's a glimpse below, and you can read the full recipe here.

Coconut Blueberry Smoothie

Coconut Blueberry Smoothie

This is the first installment of what I hope to be a regular column - FTEats: Recipes for Training and Racing. This is Elana, and I'm a member of the Full Throttle Team. I am neither a nutritionist or a chef, so please regard all these recipes with suspicion and approach with caution! However, these recipes DO have the best of intentions and I think they're pretty tasty, too.

Going forward, I'd be happy to take submissions, so feel free to send me your favorites and I'll see what I can do in between swimming, biking and running. But first, the Coconut and Blueberry Smoothie. I've been downing these every day after practice, which is apparently the best time for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs. I'm usually not thinking clearly at that point though, as I'm so hungry I might start hitting people. Thus, the smoothie. Here we go:

What You Need:

1 cup Almond Milk

1 scoop (or serving) natural flavor protein powder. I'm using this one right now.

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1 tablespoon Chia seeds

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup shredded coconut (you can use sweetened or unsweetened)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Dash of ground nutmeg

*Feel free to add a scoop or two of your favorite protein powder!

What To Do:

Throw all this stuff in a blender and BLEND like the Dickens. 

Drink immediately OR pour it into a spare water bottle and stick it in the fridge. Tote it with you to the gym the next morning and enjoy post workout.

Feel free to check out the original post on John and Elana Talk About Food here.