Fueling with Island Boost

Its not secret on the blog — or to anyone in my life really — that I have had an insane amount of stomach issues while running.  Back in July it killed my dreams of a 42-43 minute race at Wharf to Wharf (which I just realized I never recapped…), and in February it dashed by dreams of a close-to or attempt at a sub 1:40 half marathon at the San Diego Women’s Half Marathon.  And those are just two of the most recent downfalls of my stomach woes.

Since then, and I’ve made it my mission to discover different fuel options that will work for me in my long distance PR quests in 2014.  As I’ve embarked on this mission, there has been one name recommended to me over and over as I’ve explained to runners from all walks of life the massive amounts of stomach unhappiness that I get on raceday — and during long, hard runs in general: Island Boost.  So, for a while, I’ve been dying to try out Island Boost but just because everything has caused me problems, I’ve been hesitant to try out something new.

IMG_1495After receiving an email about Island Boost attempting to get a new flavor (Chocolate!) FDA approved, I knew I needed to try it, especially with the hopes of chocolate coming out in the future, so I reached out to them to see about getting a sample of the chocolate. Unfortunately, the chocolate samples were all out, but they did graciously give me a few samples to try out.

It’s different from your average gu or gel because it’s not a gu or gel.  Its more the consistency of Gatorade, but its got more calories than Gatorade in a small little thick liquid.

I was pretty excited to try it, and I’m not going to lie — my first taste was a shocker.  I mean, its like really, really over powered Kool-Aid on the first sip (note: this is coming from someone who doesn’t drink sugary drinks or juice because I don’t like them, and who thinks the Gatorade generally made at water stations is faaaaaaar too potent).  However, by the end of the first pouch, I got over the intensity and the flavor was actually pretty darn good (Passion Fruit Flavor).

IMG_1496I was given three flavors to try, and of the three, Passion Fruit was by far my favorite, but the Orange wasn’t far behind.  I just couldn’t get behind Blueberry-Pomegranate flavor, but then again I’m a fresh wild blueberry girl from Minnesota, and anything made with blueberry flavoring, just doesn’t cut it for me.

The real test, though, was how the Island Boost functioned for me on my runs.  Although I was only able to take them on one run (I’ve only run one run long enough to require fueling in the past few months), I was stomach problem free.  I can’t say it was my hardest run or my longest or that I had anxiety associated with race day, but it settled nicely in my stomach.  Maybe its because I can read and pronounce pretty much everything on the back of the nutrition label?  Or because it has coconut water in it (cue automatic swoon)?! Those both definitely made me happy — oh and its gluten free and dairy free!

IMG_1501So would I buy them for training?  Definitely — I’m actually putting in an order this weekend.  I’m still playing with a few other options for long runs and hard runs, but I am definitely keeping Island Boost in the mix — and if they can come up with the funds to get the chocolate through FDA testing and production, you bet your buns I will be all over that like a runner in a self serve fro-yo joint.

If you’d like to try out Island Boost, or just help them get chocolate into production, there are 10 days left in their fundraiser — if you give money, you get fun things back – for example $25 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost to try; $40 gets you a 10-pack of Island Boost + a runner’s hat/visor.  When I get paid on Friday I am definitely jumping on that — every little bit helps, and it gives a great company run by wonderful people with a good product the chance to make it against the big guns.  Check it out here.

IMG_1502(I’m excited for all the temporary tats they sent me! — the inner child in me rejoiced!!)

Have you tried Island Boost?  What’s your fuel of choice?

***While Island Boost gave me the samples to try, they did not compensate me in any way or ask me to write a review.  As always, all opinions are my own.

California Walnut’s Virtual Dinner Party {& Giveaway}

A few weeks ago I was contacted by California Walnuts, a group I connected with a few years ago when I was more of a healthy living/food blogger.  I have now kind of stepped away from the food blogging, but when they offered me the opportunity to join a virtual dinner party and make a dish with their walnuts from one of 4 amazing chefs, I jumped at the opportunity.

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Immediately when I was making my decision on which chef to choose, Aida Mollenkamp stood out to me.  She had a number of recipes that were already gluten free and dairy free friendly, and when I saw the Kale, Apple, Pancetta, and Walnut Salad with Creamy Walnut Dressing I knew I had to make it for the Virtual Dinner Party.

For the most part I followed the recipe above, but I made a few substitutions based on what I had in the house, and what I could find at the local grocery store: (1) I couldn’t find endvies, so I subbed in sunflower sprouts, (2) I didn’t have white wine vinegar, so I subbed in rice vinegar, (3) I couldn’t find pancetta, so I used bacon.  I do wish I could’ve tried it with the endives, since I’ve never had them, but sometimes you have to make do and adjust.

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The recipe came together so quickly — the longest portion was the frying of the bacon (which took all of five minutes), and it was a delicious, fairly healthy meal that filled me up.  The only requirement is that you have a food processor for the salad dressing, but if you don’t mind it a little chunky, and more of a ‘spread’ I think a blender might work in a pinch.  And speaking of the creamy walnut dressing, I can’t wait to use on other salads, and possibly even as a dressing for meats!  Soooo good!

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Aida Mollenkamp and California Walnuts for the win, that’s for sure!

I am so happy I had the opportunity to join the virtual dinner party — check out some of the other food bloggers who joined Aida’s Virtual Dinner Party here.  It felt great to get back in the kitchen and do some cooking again!  Thanks California Walnuts for this fantastic opportunity!

As a part of the Virtual Dinner Party, and on behalf of California Walnuts, I was also sent TWO copies of Aida Mollenkamp’s recipe book: Keys to the Kitchen.  What does that mean?  That I have ONE copy to giveaway to one of you!

Although I was disappointed the recipe I made wasn’t in the cookbook, I still loved Keys to the Kitchen at first glance.

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Its got a great set of recipes, a number of which I’m really excited to make, but one of its greatest aspects I think is the informational and instructional information the first two chapters have.  And it has photos, which is always a bonus in my book.

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It gives you great instructions on mastering grocery stores, knife skills, and etc, before diving into the delicious looking recipes.  I mean, if the Kale, Apple, Pancetta and Walnut salad I made says anything about what’s in her cookbook, it should be pretty fabulous.

The Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen.  The giveaway will be open through Friday, March 8 at noon PST, and I will announce the winner later that afternoon, and get the cookbook sent out asap.

How to enter?

You must do one of the following to enter:

(1) Take a look at Aida Mollenkamps’s recipes used for the Virtual Dinner Party and leave a comment on which recipe (from the Winter or Spring menus) you’d like to try.

OR

(2) Leave a comment telling me about your favorite way to eat walnuts (in a recipe, raw, candied…etc).

For an extra entry:

(3) Tweet about the giveaway, and leave a comment back here saying that you did so.  example tweet: “I just entered to win an @aidamollenkamp cookbook from @phdstrides virtual dinner party giveaway http://wp.me/pVOD1-1k5″

*California Walnuts provided me with the walnuts for this recipe and the cookbook for the giveaway.  However, all opinions are my own.

Hyde Park Beef Stew

I got back on a cooking & cleaning kick recently, and while going through my cupboards today I discovered some spice mixes my good friend Lara had sent me from The Spice House in Chicago a few months back (okay it might have been close to a year).

I also remembered that I had some grass fed beef stew meat in the freezer I had picked up from WF about a month ago when it was on sale.  Badabing-badabang, I pulled out my crockpot and got to work.

It actually turned out incredibly good and is Paleo (except for the fact I added cornstarch to thicken it because I got really hungry, it was too soupy and I had added a little too much broth).  As such, I thought I’d share it with you, as its a quick, delicious, hearty meal that will definitely fuel you well and keep you warm as fall weather starts rolling in.

Hyde Park Beef Stew (4-5 servings)

  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 small-med sweet potatoes, sliced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 c broth (I used chicken because that’s what I had, but I think beef would be richer)
  • 1/4 c Hyde Park Seasoning (or more…I love a lot of flavor, so I added a lot)

Slice everything to be bite size, and put all ingredients it in the crockpot.  Turn on high for 4-6 hours.  Add only 3 cups broth if you want it to be thicker (if it ends up too soupy and you’re not strict Paleo you can always add in cornstarch to thicken it a bit, which is what I did).

Then, ladle it into bowls, serve and enjoy.  There’s a little kick to the stew, but that’s what I love about it.  Its full of flavor and definitely reminds me of the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago.

Its a fast, easy way to get a delicious, home cooked meal.  And one I plan on making again and again…once I replenish my spice stash.

Have any spice mixes you recommend?  Recipes to accompany them?