The Best of Gluten Free

As some of you may know, I have to eat gluten free (GF) as does my brother. My neighbor was recently diagnosed and I would love to outline some of my fav, best tasting GF products since a conversation with him got me thinking of the great products that are available. Now, the best gluten free foods are the ones that are just naturally gluten free of course. I get a bit exasperated, but understand, if I have to explain to someone that I can’t eat wheat and they say “oh that’s terrible, you must not be able to eat anything”. I think the opposite and say if a diet is that heavily based on wheat and that’s the corner-stone to the diet, then that is a much bigger problem!

The problem is however, is that when you have to or choose to eat gluten free, it’s the gluten in all the insidious hidden places that continues to surprise me. Even in foods that should not have any gluten whatsoever in them. Examples are soy sauce, any boxed grain, even the rice “mixes” like Zateran’s,  (Rice in and of itself is the most hypo allergenic food in the world, able to be tolerated by the vast majority of people) some canned foods even, any bottled sauce and the one that confused me the most is I HOP putting pancake batter in their eggs/omlettes. Another one is “modified food starch” or “thickening agents” most likely wheat. You can never be too safe. First, while this list is by no means even remotely complete, here are some foods naturally gluten free. This list is more carb/grain heavy since it goes without saying that fruits, veggies, etc do not have gluten.

  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat (yes, despite the name, no wheat, no gluten. But, it is frequenty mixed with wheat flour)
  • Corn
  • Amaranth (cultivated for over 8000 years!)
  • Teff
  • Wild Rice
  • Oats (however many are contaminated with gluten during processing so be careful)

Aside from just eating natural unprocessed foods, there is a time when you’d love a treat and quite frankly just want to eat a sandwich and have a piece of bread! Here are my top picks and brands that I highly recommend.

Top tasting breads:

The two brands I highly recommend are Udi’s and Rudi’s. Very good texture and very “realistic”. If you want a good old fashioned sandwich on white bread-Udi’s White Sandwich bread can’t be beat. However, I think the whole grain version is really tasty and has a bit more flavor/texture. Rudi’s whole grain bread is extremely good and toasts up amazingly well.

Udi’s has a wide product range of GF products including hamburger buns (big thumbs up) and pizza crusts. I can’t say enough about the texture and consistency of the products. All very good. The bagels are more like bagel shaped bread, but hey, beggers can’t be choosers 🙂

Pasta:

Tinkyada brand wins hands down. They have organic brown rice GF pasta or just regular non-organic. The only difference I could tell was in the price!

It has a great texture and is not mushy.

Wraps:

Food For Life brown rice wraps. Other wraps have not even remotely passed the test. These are excellent for quesidillas and I love to make breakfast burritos with them.

They have to be heated or steamed a bit before using. My husband, who does NOT eat gluten free, likes these over regular tortillas. So that means they are really good!

Desserts:

This is a local WI company and their products are downright tasty www.grandmaferdons.com  They are up in Hayward, WI and although all their products are great, they have these little lemon bars, pumpkin bars, etc that are simply amazing.

Pizza

I have to admit this was the one thing I missed the most. I am amazed now that what was such a treat in the past is now available at most local pizzerias here, a national franchise, and the freezer case at the grocery store. Top picks:

Locally: Christiano’s

Everything at Christianos is amazing (gelato!) and I was so happy they offered a GF crust. They bake it in their brick ovens and it is a true treat. Make sure they cook it long enough or it can by slightly doughy/mushy. But, when cooked right, the crust is crisp and very “real” tasting.

Dominos-the first national franchise to offer GF pizza.  The verdict? It was great! Very crisp crust and slightly sweet, which makes me think they use a rice flour based crust.

Amy’s Pizza: Found in the freezer case of the grocery store. Great flavors and again, the crust passes the test.

Eatons (local) this used to be my favorite take out. Eatons takes it a step further and puts the crust in a small aluminum pan to avoid any cross contamination. Not exactly the Eatons I loved, but very good. It will never be the same, but it can get pretty darn close! Thin, crisp crust.

Enjoy!

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Magnesium? Yes! Magnesium!

Well it’s that time of year when the race reports start rolling in! Actually not much to report except a half marathon where some running miles paid off. I was pleased because I was not super rested and felt pretty darn good! So what in the world does this have to do with magnesium? Several weeks before the race, I had to start supplementing with Mg for a number of reasons and it really opened my eyes as to how many roles this mineral plays in the function of our bodies and how much better I felt.

Long story short, I started to get very odd and persistent calf pain, even while not running, basically all the time. I was beginning to think I was going to be the only person in the world that was going to tear a calf while just sitting in a chair or rolling over in bed. It was “odd” pain though, not normal stuff you’d expect from training. Very hard to describe, like my calves were very hard, swollen and sore to the touch. Turns out this is a big sign of a MG deficiency, which as much as 70% of Americans have. I also felt as if I could not take a deep breath along with other weird things I never linked together.  And here goes the standard disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist and you should not be looking for sound nutritional advice on a random blog. This is my personal experience only.

Magnesium, like iron, is one of those things that is very much depleted during running and is hard for the body to absorb through food sources, as is iron. Your body will absorb about 20 to 50% of the magnesium that you ingest. And it goes without saying that I am a ridiculously heavy sweater, I’ll pretty much pass out if I don’t get about 1000 mg/sodium/hour while training much less racing and we’re sweating out all electrolytes of course, not just sodium NA. You’ll absorb a small portion of magnesium compared to what you take in.  And like iron, it depends on the form of Mg and taking it with vitamin C helps it absorb more. More was going out than going in. There were also several other odd “symptoms” that I never would have linked together, much less linked to Mg. This is one interesting little mineral.

So, what does Mg do for your body? It’s responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady (I was at the doc before finding this out with bad heart palpitations, but did not link the calf pain to this either) and it is extremely necessary for proper ATP synthesis (ATP often being called the “molecular unit of currency” of intracellular energy transfer). ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism.  Only 1% of magnesium is found in the blood, but the body works extremely hard to keep blood levels of Mg constant. It also plays a role in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It cannot be made by our body, so it has to be plentiful in the diet in order to get enough.

Where do you get Mg from?

First, another thing that Mg and iron have in common is that foods high in oxalates inhibit absorption. So, if you eat veggies high in oxalates, it inhibits both iron and mg from being absorbed well. Ironic, since we all hear to eat spinach for iron,( it’s also very high in Mg) . However, spinach, swiss chard, kale and beet greens are high in oxalates, actually inhibiting absorption.  So, it is better cooked than raw in this case. That being said, green leafy vegetables are a great source of Mg. Highest in Mg are: pumpkin seeds (I don’t know about you, but I rarely, if ever, sit around eating pumpkin seeds except around Halloween), spinach, swiss chard, soybeans, sesame seeds, Halibut, black beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds and cashews. Yes, it’s all a little confusing since some of these foods will also be on lists of what inhibits absorption.

Another benefit of taking Mg is that I feel like I can BREATH, wow!! Funny how things can slowly sneak up on you until it becomes normal. So after doing some research and taking a liquid Mg supplement which is not agree with my stomach, I am taking 2 Slo-Mag tablets, 2xday with vitamin C. Love it! Also, the First Endurance Multi V has 250 mg of a very highly absorbable Mg chelate. This is the only multi vitamin where I can feel a huge difference when taking it regularly. I have tried some really expensive vitamins like the Bionic Supermodel, which is outrageously expensive, and just could not justify it. The FE Multi Vs have some solid studies behind them. It’s entirely anecdotal, but a coworker of mine was still having heel pain after having a stress fracture there ages ago, she started taking the Slo-Mag and the pain totally went away, which was cool to hear (you can’t absorb calcium well if you don’t have enough Mg).   So, there ends my little speech on Mg. Hope it helps a few people out there!

In other news, I have a local race coming up and then will be back in KS since I just love the race but love the company at the race more. It will be a nice little reunion with my friend Julia and also Ben! Not to mention our very gracious homestay peeps that let us take over their upstairs with us turning it into an area where it looks like a transition area exploded. What did we do to the nice clean, very white sheets awaiting us in years past? Got body marked the day before and imprinted our numbers all over the bed while we were sleeping.

Kansas 70.3 involves a crazy amount of walking to pick up your packet and then set up. Seriously. Like so much you feel like you need to taper for the T1 and T2 set up. Julia and I cannot figure out a way to make this easier. I am pretty sure we took a nap last year after setting up. Otherwise, we have a few things down, like how to avoid the long lines into the park race morning and how to find our car afterwards. Trust me, things look totally different at 4am when you’re parking your car in a pitch black field. We have an alarm to get up, another goes off for when we should be eating, another for packing the car and one even goes off for when we should be pulling out. BUT THE WALKING!! We have not cracked the code yet on this part, but we’re going to try 🙂 We are not VIPs so we can’t roll on up to the main area, we’re stuck parking in a hot field on a 100 degree day humping all of our equipment up and down hills and fields of tall grass. This year we’re going to try to figure it out……

The Shoe Whore Chimes In

My friend Julia affectionately and appropriately calls me the shoe whore. I have a problem, and it’s a running shoe problem. I’m a little obsessed with them. I get some to try, I buy some to try, people give me some to try and some are worth writing about and some are not. I’m not the technical type that can go on and on about what foam and blown rubber is used and this and that. I just know what I like and what I don’t. There are a few rules. They have to be under a certain weight, and the ramp can’t be more than 9mm and NO stability features whatsoever. After being way over-corrected for years on end, I have found a super light neutral racing shoe works the best. That might not be the case for everyone of course.

Mind you, despite the moniker, I’m quite monogamous. I’ve been running in the Brooks Green Silence for 2 years straight. A record. Then, on the urging of my coach, I tried this:

It was love at first sight, or first run. The picture above is the Puma Faas 300. I also recently got a pair of the 400s which are equally amazing. I can tell within about 3 seconds of putting on a shoe if it’ll work or not. These were the most pleasantly surprising, underrated shoe I have ever worn. I immediately put on a ton of  miles in them in a couple weeks and could find nothing wrong. To be very objective, I like a wide toe box and these seem to be a nit narrow and this is standard for Puma and how their shoes fit. The suggestion to go a half size up was not necessary, they fit true to size. I can see though how some feet may need to size up by a bit. And the price tag? I scored a pair for $47. HA!!! RoadRunner tried charging me $80 but the Puma sight was almost half of that. I shake my head that I paid big bucks for Newtons for a bit. But, hey, I liked them quite a bit and they were the shoe that made me chuck my orthotics so they served their purpose. I hate the lugs now, if they made a shoe without those lugs I’d probably buy a pair.

It has a slight rocker shape and the sole is actually blown rubber. Very natural feel. If you’re running in Newtons and hate the price tag, these could be your perfect go to shoe.

The First Time

 

 

 

I woke up from a classic anxiety dream this morning and had to laugh. After a long layoff from the distance,  I’m doing an IM this year and it’s about 7 months away. The dream went something like this…I had a huge PR coming out of the swim and then, no gear bags to be found. No bike shoes, no helmet, nothing. The next thing I knew, I had a 2 hour transition while some girl refused to lend me one of many pairs of bike shoes she had. When I finally talked her into lending me a pair, I looked down and realized they were rhinestone studded high heels with bike cleats on the bottom. This is when I woke up. In the dream, I was still super confident I could run everyone down even after a 2 hour transition. HA!

Since the anxiety dreams have already started, I’d figure I’d tell you all the mistakes I made prepping for my first ironman. If you’re reading this and doing your first one, maybe you’ll take something away and not make the same mistakes.  And on that note, while we’re at it, all the right things I did too.

My first IM was Wisconsin-the pics above were from CDA, where it was FREEZING. Nothing like jumping in 50 some degree water while people watched wearing their winter coats. I raced for quite a few years before my first IM race and built up to the distance. I had a great coach at the time that focused just as much on the mental side of things as the physical. This helped tremendously because the day will never go as planned. Looking back, here’s what I would have done differently for that first IM and what worked.

  • I did all my long runs on a soft surface. The good? They always involved running part of the run at race pace so I never slogged out long easy miles all the time. The downside, and I consider this one of my biggest mistakes  in prepping for that race, is that I did all my long runs on a soft surface/trail. I was never injured but guess what happened? When it came time to run 26.2 miles on concrete and asphalt, it destroyed my legs. I was not used to it. I still run on the trail at times but do a lot of my training on the surface I’ll race on.
  • I would have biked a lot harder. Yes, the long rides are important, but I’m a big believer in frequency over long slow rides. Everyone’s different, but I don’t respond to the long, easy ride with no intensity. The more bike fitness you have, the easier the run will be. You can be in the best run shape of your life, but if the bike destroys you, you won’t get to realize your potential on the run. I would have bike A LOT more. That being said I had a pretty decent bike split for not knowing how hard it would be. I think everyone realizes how hard it is at around mile 90 of the bike and mile 18 of the run. Those are two big reality check points in the mileage.
  • I would have done much more to bike on a similar terrain as to what I would be racing on. That’s a no brainer, right?
  • Nutrition: this falls into the what went right category. I trained with the exact thing I would use in the race over and over. However, that being said, I still cannot look at a cliff bar years and years after that race. I’d have to be pretty desperate to eat one even now. I would have packed a WIDE variety of flavors in special needs and even a few different things on the bike because what I thought I’d want was not what I wanted at all on race day.
  • Race day turned out to be in the 90s with 25+ mph winds. What went right? I did not freak out at all. The weather is one of the top things you can’t control in any way so why fight it? I saw a few people pulled over on the side of the road during the bike with their heads in their hands freaking out about the wind. On the run it was the heat. I remember the announcer talking while we were getting ready to head down to the water and he said “it’s going to be extremely hot and windy; DEAL WITH IT”. If you’re doing WI, it could be 50 and freezing cold or 90 with humidity.
  • Enjoy the moment right before the swim starts. I know, you’re freaking out, everyone is. But stop and turn around and take it in. In WI, it was overwhelming because they had to shove 2000 people into the start area, there were thousands of screaming spectators at the helix/convention center, a huge jumbo-tron and helicopters above. It was nuts in an awesome way and you’ll only be in that first time spot once.
  • That being said, figure out where you’re going to start in the water and be a bit more aggressive than you normally would. There is nothing worse than being stuck behind hundreds of people going a lot slower than you and having nowhere to go. The first 5 to 10 minutes are going to be chaotic anyhow so take the chaos and get a good spot.
  • Good decision: taking literally 4 seconds to change out of my stinkin’ bike shorts in transition to a pair of running shorts. It felt SO good and made me feel like running. Not sure I’d do it now for some reason, but at the time, it felt good!

 

  • Chicken broth and coca cola are your friends and saved my a$$ the last 10 miles.
  • If at all humanly possible, stick around at the finish line and take it in. I could not since 1/3 of the field picked up this super weird nasty eye infection thing during the race. I remember I went to the med tent and they said “everyone is coming in with this eye thing”.  Could have been the lovely lake or the wind blowing stuff around, who knows. But, I got the heck out of there as soon as the race ended and would have liked to stick around a bit. If you’re not pooping your pants or passing out (unfortunately two real possibilities 🙂 ) stick around and enjoy the party till midnight!
  • You’re not going to want to do another IM immediately after the race so don’t make any decisions. You’ll swear you’ll never do another one, EVER. But a few days later, you will…..
  • Last but not least, enjoy it. Like I said, there is only ever one first time.

 

The Sale Continues…

Just a quick update-the Genius frame is SOLD, as is the short sleeve DeSoto wetsuit.

Still for sale, long sleeve Desoto top and bibjohns AND:

Argon 18 E-112 frame, fork, base bars (blackwell) and aerobars (HED). Will separate the base bars and aerobars for separate sale.

$200 for carbon blackwell base bars and aerobars

$799 for frame not including shipping. I have yet to take a real picture of the frame and bars, but here is a peek. Of course I am standing in front of the majority of the frame, but you get the picture-no pun intended.

Triathlon Fire Sale

I am selling a few items which I’ll post here. No, I’m not quitting the sport and running away,  just time to clear out a few items!  Contact me if you want anything, or have any other questions. *I will also be selling my gorgeous, super fast Argon 18 E -112 frame soon*. I’ve pretty much smashed every PR on this bike by MINUTES and minutes, love it. Now, that could have something to do with my coach who gives me bike workouts that make me cry like a little girl (wish I were kidding) but hey, it’s a really really nice bike to say the least.  I’m very happy to announce I’ll be on the new Argon E- 118 this year, wohoo! Very excited about this.

Desoto First Wave wetsuit: Size 2, bibjohns and long sleeve pullover. The bibjons are pretty much brand new, worn twice maybe $150. Full sleeve top: Slightly more used $75. Plus shipping if applicable.

Fuel Belt: it’s brand new, but missing one bottle. Size M, black and pink! $10

Genius Chronometro Time Trial Frame:

$499 plus shipping if it needs to be shipped. Frame only. Carbon, size S. I am 5’7 and this frame fit me nicely.

 

Gluten Free Treats

Here is a great recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies. You’ll never tell the difference and they taste even richer without the flour! The recipe could not be easier. Now, I did not say these are necessarily healthy, it’s a cookie after all and it’s a yummy sweet/salty treat. I saw this on the 5 ingredients or less show on the Food Network.

1 cup of natural peanut butter

1 cup of sugar

1 large egg

1 ts of vanilla extract

Course sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients above with the exception of the sea salt. Spoon 1 tablespoon or so of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Press down lightly on the cookie dough with a fork and sprinkle the course sea salt over each cookie. Bake for about 10 minutes and transfer onto a rack to cool.

*You can get creative with these and add butterscotch chips (which I did, very good), chopped up peanut butter cups, chocolate chips, whatever fits your mood.

Enjoy!

 

No Flour!