John and Elana Talk About Food

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.

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.