Triple Training and Chocolate Redemption

13 Mar

As the title of this post implies, today turned into a triple training extravaganza and I’ve also found a way to redeem myself from the pudding debacle of last night. I got up at 5AM for strength training, did a little work before (and after) the sunrise, took a power nap and then headed out to the Key around noonish for a bike ride made up of race taper bursts (Race! Taper! Bursts!) meant to get my muscles firing a little without totally fatiguing them before the (first!) race (of the season!) on Sunday. I must be excited. Look at me throwing those exclamation points around like I’m getting paid to do it.

I knew we’d be hitting the water after our bike but I didn’t have any idea we’d be doing damned near a mile this afternoon. I was thinking more in the realm of 15 or twenty minutes but the instructions were to swim five buoys down and 5 buoys back and that all added up to around about 1300 meters. The water was blissful though–despite a pretty aggressive current running against us on the way out–so that made things a little nicer. Unlike last Wednesday, when it was completely black in there and I’m pretty sure I bumped up against a shark at one point (this is unlikely but what I touched was hard and round and while it was probably something man-made, I’m sticking to my story), today the water was crystal clear and sparkly. I kid you not. With my tinted goggles on and the sun hitting it, just so, it really looked like there was fairy dust on the water. Although maybe I was high coming off the bike ride.

I’m trying to get better about siting and doing it efficiently so that the action doesn’t bring my stroke to a dead halt. I did stop a couple of times but on the whole I’m feeling exponentially better in the water these days. I’m able to control myself and my movements and switch back and forth between strong kicking and strong pulling so when I start to fatigue in one area, I can deploy the muscles in another. Breathing is also getting better and I’m able to push through the burning in my shoulders now whereas at this time last year that feeling was enough to make me stop.

There were about five of us in the water and we managed to stay together in a relatively tight pack, which was nice. I think we ended up swimming the distance in just under 33 minutes. Not setting any records but it felt good. Well it felt mostly good. I felt pretty bad when one of my teammates (who also happens to be one of my students–don’t ask) decided to sneak up on me in the last fifty meters and grab my leg. Of course, I spazzed and yelped and jumped out of the water (the same way I did last week when ‘I touched the shark’) and then I turned around to discover the little rat bastard laughing his 22-year old head off at me. I don’t understand why people have to be lame like this when they know other people are iffy about sea creatures.

All in all a good day. I’ve been exceptionally hungry, of course, which is cool because I can tack on some extra calories over the next few days and, more importantly, a few extra carbs! Lord Jesus, it’s a fire! I have been seriously craving sweet things lately–most notably chocolate, which is odd for me as it’s never been my thing. Now, of course, I’m not planning to binge on chocolate and sugar in the days  leading up the race (it’s only a sprint, after all) but I figured it’d be cool if I snuck a little cacao into a snack or two between now and then, just to satisfy the craving. And besides, cacao is actually really good for endurance athletes. Especially if it’s mixed with maca, which mine is.

So this afternoon, I was looking for a fat to add to my afternoon snack and I realized I had a whole bag of sunflower seeds just taking up space in the fridge.

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I decided to make a chocolate sunflower butter since I really dig nut butters but can’t eat most of them due to my headache sitch. This butter is so easy to make if you have a food processor and it is SO MUCH CHEAPER to do it yourself than it is to buy a jar of sunflower seed butter at the store. I bought that 9 oz bag for $3.00 at the farmer’s market. It will easily yield 3 1/2 cups of butter.

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Here’s what to do–oh, and I made a small batch (about 3/4 cup yield) just to see how it would turn out but you can double or triple quantities if you want to make a whole pile of it: I tossed 1/2 cup (or about 2 oz of seeds) into the work bowl of my Mini-Prep and I let ‘er rip until the seeds were ground to the texture of coarse meal. The I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of cacao (you can use regular old cocoa powder too) and 1 tsp of agave (substitute whatever liquid sweetener you prefer–I know the jury’s still out on agave). Then I let the processor go until the seeds released their oils and the whole mess got to the consistency of slightly chunky peanut butter. This is a pretty dry butter but it should still be spreadable as long as you grind it long enough. About 3-5 minutes should do. When it’s done and packed in a jar, it looks like this:

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And on a spoon it looks like this:

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And on the same spoon from a slightly different angle, this:

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It is absolutely delicious and in small quantities (2 teaspoons is around 53 calories, 4g of fat, 3g carbs and 2g of protein), it’s not too horrible for you. I had it with pear slices but I’m sure it’d be great on toast or slathered on a banana or as the star of a SB&J or as the base of a bake-free cookie or faux truffle. I could also see this being a hit with little kids who suffer from nut allergies. Give it a try and let me know how you like it best.

 

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