Banana Quinoa Muffins

Adapted from Peas and Thank you Banana Chocolate Chip Millet Muffins.

Sometimes I want something cake-like in the morning and most of the muffins that I make are too dense or fall apart easily. Bring in these muffins which are very moist and fluffy, low in sugar, decent in protein & fiber, and delicious!  The calories were more than I would have thought - here is for the whole recipe. I think it made about 18 mini ones.
1 Mini Muffin
Calories - 90(HIGH!), Fat - 2.3g, Saturated Fat  - 1.4, Sodium - 5mg, Carb - 15g, Fiber - 2g, Protein - 3g

I switched quinoa in for millet, reduced the sugar and used coconut oil instead of canola oil.  I also did a version of peanut butter chocolate chip so check out the substitutions for that version too!


2/3 c quinoa flour (toasted ground quinoa)
1/2 c oat flour (ground oatmeal)
1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 bananas, mashed
2 T maple syrup
2 T coconut oil  (replace with 2 T peanut butter for pb muffins)
1 T flaxseed
1/2 c almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
blueberries - optional (replace with chocolate chips)

In a large bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, soda and cinnamon. In a small bowl, add the maple syrup, coconut oil, flaxseed and vanilla. Microwave 30 seconds and let sit. Mash the bananas and add to the maple syrup mixture.  With the almond milk, add the wet to the dry. Stir to combine. Put in sprayed muffin tins. I used a mini muffin tin and donut pan and cooked for 12-15 min. Just check on them and make sure they are a little browned and set. These rose so nicely and were delicious!!

I learned from Sarah's book that if you use frozen blueberries you have to just drop them into the mixture. You cannot mix them or the muffins will turn gray. It's happened to me before!



I have this tugging...

And it's not one of my kids grabbing onto me. I walked in the door from an early bike ride this morning and within 5 seconds Kara was holding on to my leg and crying for me.  I'm so lucky to have my dad come over one day a week so I can do a longer workout day. As soon as I open that door, I have to be ready to be back in mom mode.  I think my shower was about 30 seconds long with Kara trying to pull herself up on the glass and whining at me.  But back to the tugging.

Over the past few months, I have been feeling like I have to get into something else. Being a mom is amazing! but I miss my identity as a teacher, team player, and hard worker. The 1-3 hours a day that I get to myself are just not enough for me, and I feel like I need to pursue another path.  Walking out the door with food all over my shirt, my hair never done and feeling like I look like crap 90% of the time is kind of dehumanizing. Add to that reasoning with a 2-year old why it is time to leave. I don't have the energy.  I want more. I need my own thing- my own success. Athletic training - training for running and triathlons now- is my outlet and I love it  - but it's not enough. Tutoring on the side is great - but I don't do it enough.  The nights that I get to tutor and get out of bedtime - I feel totally refreshed! I love using my brain and I even get paid for getting out of bedtime, it is a great feeling!   I just have had 1-2 kids over the past few school years and need to somehow spread the word and get more kids.

I love how some of the blogs I read have created their own business. I thought about doing that for a while with some kind of baked product but let's be realistic - I'll never follow through. And where do these people find the time? I seriously have a guaranteed 2 hours to myself throughout the day (not including 5-7am because let's face it, that's when people sleep and that is my workout time. So maybe 4 hours, but I don't count that). When I was home with just Nick, I looked into pursuing my PhD. However, again, with 2 small kids now, that is not happening.  I always wanted the option to teach at the college level.  Unfortunately, I recently found out that I need a Masters in Math, not Education, in order to teach any college level courses in math. My latest thinking is to go get that Masters in Math - but on whose dime? It's not cheap. It was stupid to get a masters in Education/ Curriculum &Instruction- what the heck am I going to do with it? At the time, I just wanted to move along on the pay scale (for teachers) and it was easy to do and convenient (classes about 5 min from my home). But now that I know I can't teach (only education courses which are impossible to find jobs in) math, I wish I had gone another route - had I only known.

I've been thinking about going back to work more in the past 6 months than in the past 1.5 years.  I had a similar thing going on with Nick, but having 2 kids with their age difference, is a real challenge for me I guess?  Nick's 2 year old state combined with Kara's dependence on me for everything and demand for attention 24/7 is tiring me out. However, I know that a 5 day teaching week with work that I'd be bringing home would land me in the loony bin (head spinning) or miserable very quickly.  Part of me wants to try it out and quit if it doesn't work out, but the other part of me knows myself well enough to know that I will be feeling absolutely guilty and missing my kids and like a subpar teacher and mom.  Also, I want to raise my kids. Not someone else.  Each time I have gone for a part-day of work on a few things I still have going on at school, I've missed the kids and felt sick driving there, but totally become immersed in the work to the point that it felt good. But - I've never done consecutive days or a full day of teaching.  Next April I will have to decide if I return in September '12.  Another thing is that I want 2 more kids.   I can't even handle 2 kids well, haha! So I might have to rethink this, but I think the first years are tough and I have always wanted 4 kids.

I am just so confused at what direction I want my life to go in at this point besides that I know that I want to raise my kids myself in the short time that they are at home with me before they go off to school then college and leave forever... but I am missing something and not feeling 100% happy being home everyday all day.  I need something else. 

So big regrets - 

I was 4 months away from my 3rd year in the same school and public school system - so tenure when I went out on maternity with Nick. I wish that I had planned out having Nick after I had the tenure (which maybe really doesn't even matter, but I'd like to be tenured).  I can go back to work to get this, but only at the same position.

Had I known, I would have obtained my Masters in Math and established myself already with a part-time college position that I could continue into motherhood.

Looking ahead thoughts- 

My happy medium/ideal - I think would be to teach 1-2 classes either at a college or local school. My job is 30 minutes away.   I think I would enjoy going back to private school - I still keep in touch with my students from my first 3 years at a private all girls school- great experience but the pay sucks and there are expectations for  extra time - after school meetings, night meetings, etc - without pay.  I don't even think I'd care about the pay, it's just finding a part-time teaching job right now- not easy.

I would love to hear from other moms!


Things I want to know and I've learned about ironman


* You can't just sign up for an ironman like a few months beforehand. Ha. What is the plan for that, a year ahead of time?

* Um - they cost ALOT of money!!  Wait can I pay to swim, bike and run for 1/2 of a day??

* I want to be an ironman and I think I will do one eventually.  But since I'm planning on having more kids?? I don't know if this is going to happen in the very near future.

Want to know:

How long does it take to train? How many hours a week do you train?

Where did you find assistance to know how to train?

How can you get sponsored for one of these things? Can someone pay your entry? Ha!



Mmm.. if you want a good start to the day, try these pancakes. I pureed the topping and omitted the oatmeal/granola.

Also for dinner I tried this recipe  for meatloaf muffins. I used a small muffin pan and a normal size one. They are cute - and tasty!

I looked into the half IM distance and saw the price... now I'm not so sure!   I might have to get a job to support the triathlon habit!


Training, Recipes and IM

My second week of training saw some more running mileage and after doing 20 or less miles a week for many weeks, I was back up to 27 this past week. It's definitely becoming more challenging to fit everything in, but way more exciting to have the variety than just running.  Here's what the training looked like:

WEEK 2 of training
Monday: Swim 4200 yd
Tuesday: Easy Run 5.2 miles, Easy Bike 12.9 miles
Wednesday: Easy Run 5 miles, Swim 3550 yd
Thursday: Long 8.8 miles
Friday: Run 4.6 miles, Bike 20 miles outside
Saturday: Swim 3000 yd, spin class 23 miles, run 3.5 miles (my own mini triathlon)
Sunday: OFF

Run 27.1 miles, Swim 6.1 miles, Bike 55.9 miles

I've been enjoying the outside bike rides and hope that I'm improving! I was thinking about signing up for another triathlon in between now and Nation's Tri in September but decided to just work hard leading up to the race instead.  However, I now feel like I'm doing alot of training and don't think I'd have to add too much more into it except biking to train for a half iron.  I'm swimming more than I need to, building up to marathon training and would just need to do longer bike rides - I think?  So I'm toying with the idea of doing a half iron before the marathon. I'm not sure how good of an idea that is, it would be about 3-4 weeks before.  Any thoughts?

I've come across some recipes lately and have been trying to meal plan each week. This weekend I made Kate's strawberry rhubarb bars. I'll have to make them again to give you my recipe but it turned out great! Here are my estimations below.

for the jam:
12 oz organic strawberries
1-3 stalks rhubarb ( I only had one)
1 T raw cane sugar
1 T chia seeds
for the bars:
2 c oats
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 c maple syrup
1 T chia or flax + 4 tbsp warm water
2 T c coconut oil, melted
1/2 c almond milk

Directions: Add strawberries and rhubarb to a saucepan over medium heat with 1 T sugar, bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken, stir in 1 T chia seeds and simmer a few more minutes, remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl combine 1 T chia seed with water to form an “egg” set aside stirring every few minutes to thicken. In a large bowl combine oats, flour, maple syrup and baking soda. In another bowl combine coconut oil with almond milk, and maple syrup, add wet to dry and stir until just combined. Using 3/4 of the mixture press into a greased baking dish (8 x 8 seemed too big and didn't fill it), top with the cooled jam mixture and sprinkle the remaining topping. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and then cool another 30-60 minutes before slicing!

And this was Bill's birthday cake. I think I will call it Peanut Butter Dough Ball Chocolate BOMB Ice Cream Cake. Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter!

So it's Trader Joe's Joe O's with melted butter and coconut oil (didn't measure) to form the crust. I froze the crust for hours to let it set then added in some Breyers Chocolate Ice cream and Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream and chunks of the dough balls - raw ones. YUMMMMMM.


New Balance Running Shoes Review

I had the opportunity to get a new pair of New Balance running shoes to review from Online ShoesThese babies came just in time as my other running shoes were getting old.  I choose these because they were a neutral shoe and I love the silver/lavender combination. 

I used to run in New Balance a long time ago. I found them to be reasonable, loved that they have WIDE shoes, and am a big fan of the "N" on the shoe since it's the first letter of my name.  For the WR1080LS (Lavendar), it is a neutral shoe. There is good padding and support and for a wide shoe there is a nice amount of space in the toe box.  I like the look of the shoe with the silver and lavendar and find them to be lightweight and sleek.  Overall,  a nice shoe with good style and support.

What shoe do you run in?   What has been your experience with New Balance?  I also have used online shoes before. I won a gift certificate and ordered shoes a while back. They came in the wrong size and it was really easy to send them back and get the right size. Highly recommend!

 New Balance is also launching the MINIMUS as they break into the world of barefoot running.  Barefoot runner? Check out the reviews! 
Enter to win a $500 New Balance shopping spree - Like ONLINE SHOES on FACEBOOK !


Training, Coaching and Eating

I am really enjoying the training for triathlons. Even though I'm sort of training for a marathon too, I'm just starting to build up the mileage so it's still manageable (the running portion).  Here were my stats from last week:

Run 20 miles
Swim 6.2 miles
Bike 60 miles

So the running is on the low side, this week adds 5 more miles and I haven't looked too much further ahead. One thing is that I feel like I could do the training for a Half Ironman pretty easily but the IM distance is probably not in my immediate future! I don't know how I'd find the time right now but it's something I'd like to accomplish. I'm inspired by all of you that do them - and multiple #s of them in that!

I have a coach that I'm working with and when I signed up for it, it was for running. He was kind enough to add in the triathlon work. I'm working with his intern and I have to say, it's not so much what I expected. The day I wanted to start the training, my schedule wasn't posted yet.  He was aware of my start date for a while - I was holding off to start the training because of my motivation. After the first week, I filled in all my workouts and I didn't hear anything back. Isn't that kind of weird? I emailed him and let him know that doing "endurance pace" workouts 3 times a week is pretty repetitive and boring and that the same exact bike and swim key workout every week is also pretty boring.  Can ya change it up a little bit?  His response was to stick with the schedule and it will get harder. I'm not sure I believe that. I feel like the time wasn't really spent creating variety.  I mean, it's great to have someone creating my workouts, but to me, giving and getting feedback is really the most important component. Are you a coach? What do you focus on?  Do you have a coach?  What is your experience?

Last but not least, eating for training. Do you have a website that you like to calculate how many calories you need to eat for your training? I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm working out more, starving most of the time and have gained weight that I can't get off. It's in the worst places - lower back and stomach. I hate it! And it's summer time.  I feel like I should have a 6-pack with the hours of training I put in??  What should I be eating to get one of those? : )  Oh and are there any tricks to getting bigger boobs?


Kara's Cupcake 1st Birthday Party

This past weekend was Kara's cupcake themed birthday party. I had alot of fun gathering ideas for the theme but didn't find as much as I did for Nick's airplane or train parties. Cupcakes wasn't as easy to work with but I liked the idea for the first birthday.  The planning part is fun and then when it comes down to it, I want someone else to do it all.  I realized that I am not good at making cupcakes, overbaked them, never did a trial run and they were about a 2 out of 10.   I made two cupcake cakes and expected them to be kind of huge but they were pretty tiny and not to logical for cutting and serving. All in all, it turned out to be a fun day and Kara was adorable and had a blast and that is all that matters!

Here are some of the pictures.

month by month pictures

birthday sign

up close

Kara helping me bake on Friday

made 5 batches, 2 were tossed

cupcake cookie favors

happy girl pre-party

cupcake spread

Kara's cake
Kara had a peanut butter cake with peanut butter/yogurt icing. PB and yogurt are two of her favorite things. While Nick took a bite out of his cake last year, Kara took little pieces - very ladylike.
This was the other cupcake cake that people ate.

The room/decor

favor labels



decorations and first year collage

more decorations

family photo
I took some of the recipes from the cupcake project website but just forgot to turn on the timer (!!!) and failed at mini cupcakes because they were overcooked! Kara's cake was a version of Peanut Butter Fluff Donuts that I saw on Heather's blog. I thought they turned out good.  The cookies were sugar cookies with 10x icing. On Friday I was on a sugar high because I was taste testing everything and I felt GROSS!!  For food we had "hoagies" and chips, panzanella salad, fruit salad, veggies and dip and chips and salsa. It was a nice small crowd!


Happy 1st Birthday (yesterday) to my baby girl!

The year FLEW BY! Yesterday Kara turned one. To celebrate we went to Gymboree and went to Peace a Pizza for lunch. Today is her party - cupcake theme. Pictures to follow!


Marathon training begins & lunch/dinners

Monday was the official start of my 16 week marathon training plan. I'm starting out with it and plan to do the race. My goal time is going to be determined when I see how the training goes. I got a good deal on a coach and he is also doing my triathlon training for one more Olympic distance in early September (thanks to my sis!)  So far the running isn't that much - only 20 miles this week. I'm into it.
When the long runs pop up and it's more like 35-40 miles, I'm not going to be digging it so much.

Here's this week's schedule:

It seems manageable. In order to execute this, I have one of my parents coming on Wednesday morning so I can double up and do a bike or run after swimming, and Bill is on kid duty on Sat or Sun for a long bike. Eventually I will have to fit that long bike into the week and switch to a long run (bummer!)  I went running in the humid air today and man, I was just thinking how much more enjoyable the bike is in this weather! and just overall! Crazy how you can turn the other way.

In everyday life, I am so bored of making lunches and dinners for the kids. I don't know what to make anymore. Lunch is the SAME thing every day. It is so boring and they have to be bored too - PB sandwich or PB crackers, sometimes a cheese stick, fruit, a spinach/pear/mango squeeze pack. I need ideas!!

I did cake smash #1 with Kara the other day. I'm going to do another with a legit cake. This one was a banana bread/muffin recipe that will be great for her birthday cake, but I have to make it rise a bit more.  She was very dainty about it. Ha!


Birthdays, sugar and oatmeal

This is Kara's birthday week! I'm big about birthdays here in our house, so the signs are hung, and I'm trying to make this week special for Kara. I'm going to try to take pictures of her with a cake in front of her and see how that goes.  I was talking with a woman that I swim with today and she said for her daughter's birthdays, she asked close relatives to share a recipe for her daughter each year. Then when she gets married (if she does) or turns 30, etc, she'll have like 30 recipes, dating back to when she is one. I thought that was so cute and love that idea. I'm trying to think of anything else similar that I could do.  Has anyone does anything like this?

Sugar for kids!
In the first year for both Nick & Kara, they didn't have sugar. From 1-2 it was totally limited and still is. Now, I'm not a nut job about it (at least I don't think so), we'll give Nick treats from time to time, he will eat birthday cake at celebrations, etc, but usually we don't give him his own huge helping or anything. We'll share with him or give him a small piece.  Also I'll bake sometimes and give him pieces, he'll eat homemade power bars (which have brown rice syrup) and scoops of ice cream if we are eating it. I don't want my kids to think they are being deprived from sugar and become sugar addicts (you hear those stories) but I also think he really doesn't know what he is missing, so why introduce him to having dessert at this age? I was wondering when you started giving your kids desserts and what your thoughts are on sugar!

And here is a great oatmeal casserole - perfect post workout meal:

2 c steelcut oats (or regular old fashioned)
2 1/2 c milk (I used almond)
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla
1 egg white
1 T flax seed (ground) or ground chia
1/2 cup - handful - blueberries

Spray your dish with cooking spray or coconut oil. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and bake @ 350 for approx 20 minutes or till set.


Guest Post: Food Labels

Below is a post on the latest in food labeling. I find this topic to be very interesting. While I am one to buy organic for the veggies and fruits that are said to be highest in pesticides, if someone asks me the details about organic, I wouldn't know the nitty-gritty. I think that you will find this post by James Kim to be helpful!
Food Labels: The Good and the Bad

Food labels are confusing. You’re not always sure what something means or, even worse, if it’s true or not. But never fear: once you get a handle on the basics, it can be easy to figure out what everything means so that you can efficiently do your meal planning.

The Good
OrganicOrganic food is “produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation.” In addition, it has to come from farms and processing facilities that have been approved by a government-sanctioned group. You should also be aware that organic products are labeled in different ways to show exactly what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. These different labels are “100% organic,” “organic” (95%), “made with organic ingredients” (70% or more) and “contains organic ingredients (70% or less).

Fair trade – Food that is sold according to standards that ensure that each person involved in the production receives the monetary compensation they deserve for their work. This is a measure that helps to fight poverty by making sure that small farmers aren’t cut out of the profits they deserve. FLO-CERT is the company that evaluates fair trade claims and awards the label.

Certified – You’re probably familiar with the “certified” label since it’s what you see on cuts of meat at the butcher. The definition of “certified” is hazy: the Food Safety and Inspection Service only says that it means that a product was evaluated based upon a set of “quality characteristics.” Don’t let this phase you, though, as certified meat is, indeed, of higher quality than meat that is not certified.

The Bad
Natural – At its core, the label “natural” doesn’t really mean anything important since the US Food and Drug Administration only defines it as “food [that] does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”  You can safely ignore this label and inspect the ingredients list on your own to see how natural something is (in other words, can you pronounce the entire list of ingredients?).

Local – “Local” food is thought of as food that can only be sold within 100 miles of where it was grown. This seems like a helpful label, but no one actually makes sure that the claims of “local” food are correct, so you can be easily duped. The only place you can be sure that you’re buying local at is at the closest farmer’s market where you actually deal with the people who grew the food in the first place.

In conclusion, you want to pay attention to labels like “organic,” “fair trade,” and “certified” while ignoring ones like “natural” and “local” that are only there to mislead you. If you make sure that you’re aware of what you put into your body, you’ll be rewarded for it through better health, so get on it!

James Kim is a writer for Food on the Table.  Food on the Table is a company that provides online budget meal planning services.  Their goal is to help families make better food choices and to save money.


More biking and traveling food

Workouts this week
After Sunday's long ride & run, on Monday I got in a swim and run thanks to Bill! The gym wasn't opened until 8am so I ended up heading to the pool right before lunch time then meeting up with the fam to take them swimming outside.  Later on I did some running on the treadmill. My legs are feeling TIRED lately. Tuesday I swam again and a little more running, Wednesday swam and got a group together to bike after swimming! We did about 22 miles in 1:40.  Then Thursday spin class, core and running. I was banking workouts this week to plan ahead for a wedding weekend away from home.

My legs are tired! I feel like the bike makes me starving too. I never thought it was a good workout, but maybe it is? Using all the big muscles? I don't sweat as much as running, but I feel like I'm so hungry all day. What is with that? Tell me more about the bike :)

All week I have been preparing to head out for the weekend for a wedding and packing for the kids  - (they are staying with my inlaws) - and getting the house ready is insanity! On top of that, getting ready for Kara's birthday - birthdays are big in my house! I felt like I was a basket case Tuesday and Wednesday.  I was trying to think of good foods to bring along for a hotel stay and all I came up with were nut balls, a jar of almond butter, protein powder and amazing grass, and Luna Bars. What are your easy on the go foods?

How did this happen? We are one week away from Kara's first birthday :( ! 


Clif Kid: Zbar Crispy and Longest Bike Ride!

If you haven't seen it yet, Clif has out a new item made especially for kids - Zbar Crispy! I was already a fan of the Zbar and love grabbing them on the go for myself and for the kids.  Now they have the crispy bar which is more of a granola bar and it's full of whole grains. It is super tasty and a great on-the-go snack.

From Clif: 
Zbar Crispy is an organic crispy rice snack offering 8 grams of whole grains. CLIF Kid added toasted oats to keep kids feeling fuller and more balanced. Zbar Crispy also offers more calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin D than most all-family snack bars. And it only has 110 calories.  “Kids’ growing bodies have unique nutritional needs that differ from adults,” says Tara DelloIacono-Thies, R.D. for Clif Bar & Company. “Zbar Crispy offers more calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin D than other family snack bars. These nutrients are essential for kids’ growing bodies, but are often lacking in their meals and snacks.”
There are 3 flavors - chocolate chip (my favorite), peanut butter and chocolate. I like giving Clif products to my kids because I know they are natural and contain vitamins and minerals. I don't purchase many processed foods but when I do, I feel good about giving these to my kids.

You can find these at Target and most grocery stores.

In addition, Clif has also added "Fruit punch" flavor of Twisted Fruit!
Look for it if you like Fruit Punch: it's great!

In the package with the bars was also a cute growth chart and leaves with nutrition tips to write the name and place on the tree. It came with a dry erase marker. Nick had fun getting measured and putting his leave on the tree - so cute!!

Yesterday marked my longest (time and mileage) bike ride!! 28.7 miles and 1 hour and 55 minutes. I went with 2 guys that I swim with in the morning and 1 of their neighbors. It was a gorgeous scenic route similar to the one of Friday - out in Chester County - hilly! and the time flew by. They had to wait for me when they did some speedwork on a nice section but otherwise I kept up well. I talked them into running 3 miles afterwards : ) and by the end of that I was dead! My legs were tired and I was starving the rest of the day. The bike takes a lot out of you - a whole lot more than I thought! I'm a total convert and love it! Never thought I'd see the day...


Out on the bike!

This morning I went out and biked with 2 other girls that I met through speedwork running.  This week I've been taking a look at my options for getting out on the bike. I'm into it.  It was great this morning.  I met Lexi at speedwork in Feb or March. She said the bike was her strength in the triathlon and wanted to improve on the run. We're both teachers and I knew she was doing Philly so I checked in with her to see how she did and she said she'd ride with me this week. So nice! She was teaching me sayings and helping me with gears. It was so helpful and nice of her and was a beautiful ride. I would never know where to go and loved having 2 other people to guide me. We did 21 miles in about 1:40 - slow but it was great! I swam before that and yesterday I did spin class and ran so my legs are tired. It's an off day tomorrow. I'm excited to get into the bike. : )