Month: March 2014

Post-Workout Recovery

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Being that I am trying to step up to a new level of competition I have been trying to maximize my potential by getting my diet right. I always ate relatively healthy before but I never fully considered pre and post run nutrition. For endurance athletes, going on a 9 or 10 mile run everyday with long runs and tough workouts thrown in there, recovery is extremely important. Because prolonged activity tends to wear down the muscle as our bodies draw from anything it can, our muscle NEEDS an adequate amount of protein to stimulate muscle synthesis and repair any damage. You are probably thinking “Damage?? Running is damaging my muscles??” Well depending on how hard and how long you have been running or participating in an endurance sport cortisol begins to break down the muscle and causes muscle soreness. However, protein after a workout will block the production of this hormone and add the essential amino acids needed to help build muscle. Sports nutritionists suggest getting this with 15-30min of exercising as this is the optimal window for muscle synthesis. In addition, getting protein in that close to a hard workout will actually help your metabolism stay steady and lengthen you satiety, I’d say that is a double bonus!

All of that being said, I have put together some of my favorite products. I have an intolerance to soy so finding a goof protein shake or bar that had at least 10g of protein (it is suggested that 10-20g of protein be ingested after endurance events) was not the easiest thing. I am also lactose intolerant just to throw another variable into the mix. My search had me reading nutrition and ingredients labels looking for the words: gluten-free, lactose-free & soy-free. I found many products while surveying my local whole foods but my problem was that either the product didn’t have enough protein or it was too high in calories to eat an hour out from dinner. Finally after a bit of searching and taste-testing these are my favorite thus far:

Protein Powders:

Garden Creations – This protein powder is lactose, gluten & soy free and is made from pea, rice & hemp protein. At less than 150 calories and 25g of protein per serving this a great choice. I suggest it with almond milk as it doesn’t mix well with water. I drink it with 8 oz of almond milk vanilla light which adds only 60 calories and tastes great with the powder. Some of the powder sometimes settles at the bottom so shake well.

Nectar Kiwi Strawberry – This is a whey protein powder which is derived from milk however this blend does not contain any gluten, lactose or soy. I just bought this for the first time and am still formulating an opinion but so far I can say that it mixes well and can be completely dissolved in water without  any gritty or weird taste. The flavor actually reminds me of strawberry jello! Coming in at 100 calories per scoop and 24g of protein this is a good option that won’t ruin your lunch or dinner. This brand has several flavors which I plan to try if I find that this protein powder is working well. This powder is low carb in case anyone was wondering..


Core Power – I loved the core power shake I tried and love that they have far less ingredients than most protein shakes. These are lactose free but use real milk and the protein from real milk. Also of course gluten and soy free, I loved the taste of the Chocolate Light version and can’t wait to try more of the flavors. The light versions have 20g of protein and 150 calories and the regular versions have 26g of protein with 240 calories.


Quest Bars – These bars may take some getting used to but I personally love them. Most boast around 20g of protein with 160-210 calories depending on the flavor. With flavors like cookie dough, cinnamon roll, cookies and cream & several more its awesome to see that they are still gluten-free! I have found that bars are the hardest thing to find gluten and soy free and within a reasonable range calories wise.

ALT Bars by Larabar – These new bars by Larabar taste great and are made from only a few ingredients including pea protein. At 10g of protein these are an excellent snack and can be used for recovery after moderate exercise. These bars are gluten and soy free. In addition to tasting great these bars are also easy to find. Buy them at your local target, whole foods, Kroger or Harris teeter! Check the website for flavors.

Dark Chocolate Chili

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I know it sounds weird but honestly I think it could have used a little MORE chocolate. I created this recipe for the Crunchmaster Recipe Challenge because I have recently become obsessed with creating and entering recipe contests…don’t ask. Anyway, this chili was a perfect balance of spice and heat with the chocolate bringing out the smokiness in the chili powder and paprika. I like a little heat but in light of my roommate who was joining me for dinner I held out a bit. However, I can definitely tell you I wasn’t missing out. The smoky flavored developed by the addition of the chocolate made it taste mildly spicy without leaving your mouth burning and eyes watering. If you make this and want more heat I suggest a dash of red pepper flakes or using spicy Italian sausage as opposed to the mild version.

I ate this chili with multi-grain sea salt Crunchmaster crackers and some avocado cornbread. I love avocado and I love cornbread so I couldn’t wait to try this when I saw the recipe on food52. I replaced the flour with almond flour and used Saco buttermilk powder, adding it to the dry ingredients and adding 1 cup of water to the wet ingredients. In addition, when serving this cornbread I drizzled a bit of honey over the top and that really hit the spot! I have plans to tweak and create my own version of this delicious cornbread but until then see the link below for the recipe

Avocado Cornbread

Avocado Cornbread

My gluten free substitutions:

  • Almond flour in place of flour
  • Saco buttermilk powder added to the dry ingredients
  • 1 cup of water added to the wet ingredients

The best part of this whole chili recipe is how easy and quick it is to make. Good thing, because my stomach doesn’t have any patience after practice. So here it is, the moment you have all been waiting for, the recipe! ENJOY!

P.S. I included my regular gluten-free cornbread recipe for anyone interested!

Skillet Cornbread

Dark Chocolate Chili, Serves 6-8


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium/large yellow onion diced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 12 oz. mild italian sausage
  • 2 tap. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cups diced red/green/yellow bell peppers
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz. can rotel tomatoes
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 15 ounces cans black beans
  • 12 oz. water
  • 1.5 oz. dark chocolate (go ahead and add a little more if you like I personally think I will add more next time I make it)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and saute until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and stir. Let the garlic cook about 2 minutes and then add in the sausage. Break up the sausage as it cooks. Once the sausage begins to brown add the chili powder, paprika & peppers. Stir everything together and let cook about 3 minutes.
  3. Now add in the tomato sauce, rotel tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, italian seasoning and the water. (I used the tomato paste can, filling it up twice to add the water. This helps to get more of the tomato paste out of the can). Stir everything together and let come to boil. Once the mixture has come to a boil reduce the heat to simmer and stir in you dark chocolate. Continue stirring until the dark chocolate has completely melted and has been thoroughly mixed in.
  4. Let the chili sit about 10min to let the flavors really come together. After 10min it is ready to serve!

Setting Up WordPress!

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I first created this blog on tumblr and am now in the process of converting this to my main blog page. I believe that posts will publish to both so hang with me! I have some posts written out…just need to find the time to get them typed up…anyway you can check my tumblr page at My next post…dark chocolate chili and gluten-free cornbread 🙂

Why We Run

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A couple of weeks ago I went for a 13 mile run and came back an hour and 46 min later having run 15….It was of course completely on accident and I paid for it. When I told my coach I accidentally ran 15 miles she gave me that yeah right look and said “how do you accidentally run 15 miles??” I guess reading this story you are probably thinking the same thing. I went out on a loop I mapped out on MapMyRun but somewhere along the way I made a wrong turn. I knew immediately my run would end up long but I anticipated 5 minutes…not 15. I was asked why I didn’t walk (I wish I had) but during the run I kept telling myself “It’s not that much further” and “don’t be lame, keep running.” Even when the 30mph gusts hit me straight on as I was running up a hill feeling like I could lie down that very moment, I kept running. My coach laughed when I told her the story and said “only 10k runners.” I realized that moment she was completely right.

We distance runners will put ourselves through whatever we have to in order to get where we are going, and I mean that literally and figuratively. We watch what and when we eat, which happens to be often. We have the tendency to get hangry (anger brought on hunger). We run through ice storms and will run 72 laps around an indoor track to get a 9 mile run in when we can’t run outside. We have to fight out obsessive compulsive nature to keep us sane when things don’t go as planned. We put our bodies through torture just to hit that perfect split at the end of a long interval workout. We do all of these things in the name of competition, in the name of perseverance, and most importantly, in the name of what it means to reach that next level. As Steve Prefontaine so perfectly said it “We run to see who has the most guts.”

Needless to say I came back from that 15 mile run ready to go to sleep at 5:30. I would have if I hadn’t picked up my tablet to work on customizing this very blog. I had also spent the last 45 minutes of my run thinking about the pizza I planned to make myself for dinner…


So worth it.

Baking Bad | The Intersection of Science, Running, and Cupcakes

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Let me introduce you my fellow 10k lover, Joanna Thompson! Joanna and I have spent a countless number of long runs discussing food. Literally, an hour and a half run through Umstead park talking about nothing but food. Luckily Joanna has also started a food/running/jam blog where she will share healthy delicious vegetarian recipes as well as a page all about her wonderful jams! If your local to Raleigh or Knoxville you can even purchase these jams by checking out her page “We Be Jammin’ ” on her Baking Bad blog. I will be sharing some of Joanna’s gluten free items here from time to time but I recommend following her as well!

Gluten-Free Cookie Dough Cinnamon Rolls

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cinnamon rolls

Normally I eat healthy but at a time like this I thought it would be okay to make something completely indulgent and different. With all the stress of last week I just wanted to bake some new and delicious. Baking/cooking is my passion aside from running but with my busy schedule I haven’t had time to experiment. Taking the day off to relax and rest I woke up this morning ready to bake!

This recipe was inspired by a recent pinterest find but the recipe I pinned was certainly not gluten-free so I accepted the challenge to make it gluten-free! The picture above was the successful result! I wish you could smell the wonderful aroma that filled my kitchen as this beauty baked. The sweet smell of cinnamon radiated through the biscuit like dough and I could see filling bubbling up on the inside. Upon removing the rolls from the oven I couldn’t wait to pour the vanilla glaze over the steamy rolls. Have I convinced you to make these yet?! See y recipe below and enjoy for yourself!

Dry Ingredients:

  • ½ cup potato starch
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch or all-purpose gluten-free flour (plus extra for rolling)
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

*if you don’t want to buy all of these different types of flours just use 2 cups of a gluten-free all-purpose flour in place of all the potato starch, rice flour, almond flour, coconut flour and tapioca starch. If you do not have xanthan gum buy a mix that already contains it.


  • ¾ cup vanilla almond milk light
  • 1 tbsp butter (melted)**
  • 1 packet yeast
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • Flour mix above or 2 cups all-purpose
  • 1 large egg (room temp)
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Extra tapioca flour or all-purpose flour for rolling
  • 2 large sheets of parchment paper


  • ¼ cup butter, softened**
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon

Cookie Dough

  • 3 tbsp. melted butter or coconut oil **
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. coconut milk
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp. + 1/2 tsp .raw honey
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. almond flour
  • 3 tbsp. mini dark chocolate chips


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp almond milk (any variety you like I used vanilla almond milk light)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9” circular cake pan.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Dough: Combine yeast and sugar in a bowl. Microwave milk and 1 tbsp. of butter for 30 seconds (want milk to be approximately 110-115 degrees). Whisk into yeast mixture and set aside to proof.
  4. While yeast is proofing mix all of the cookie dough ingredients together and refrigerate.
  5. Once yeast is proofed and is foamy (takes about 10 min) add in the oil, egg and vanilla and whisk.
  6. Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and add yeast mixture above. Mix on low until ingredients are combined and then mix on high about 3 minutes. If using a stand mixer use paddle attachment otherwise a hand mixer will work fine.
  7. The dough will be sticky so generously flour 1 of the sheets of parchment paper. Place the dough on the sheet of parchment paper and with floured hands work the dough a bit (may want to sprinkle some flour on the dough). Flatten the dough with your hands and then using the sheet of parchment paper, fold the dough over itself. At this point it may be sticking to the parchment paper so keep folding it over itself adding more flour to the parchment surface as well as the top of the dough. Once the dough is ready to work with, meaning that it is not sticking to the parchment paper, form the dough into a rectangle add a little bit of flour on top and top with the 2nd sheet of parchment. Roll the dough out to about ¼” thick 10” x 14” rectangle (doesn’t have to be perfect by any means!)
  8. Filling: Now combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the softened butter over the dough and top with the brown sugar cinnamon mixture. If the butter is not spreading easily just mix it in with the brown sugar and cinnamon and then spread it out over the dough. I did this with my hands and they got a little messy so be warned. Drop tsp. sized balls of cookie dough evenly over top.
  9. To make several smaller rolls roll the long side toward you using the parchment paper to help you. To make larger rolls, roll from the short side. Now cut the rolls making each about 1” high.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm spot for about 15 min. Then place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Icing: While the cinnamon rolls are baking whisk the icing ingredients together. Once the cinnamon rolls are done baking top with the icing while they are still warm.

*If you want to make these ahead of time you can always have the rolls fully prepared and refrigerated overnight. Just place the rolls in the cake pan, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. In the morning set then out for at least 25 min before baking.

** I used smart balance dairy free butter to make these dairy free. To avoid soy I used the soy-free variety.

Gerald Cornell aka “Coach” aka my Grandpa. 1922- 2014 RIP

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At first I was a little nervous having my first post be on such a sad note but then I realized how perfect this was. My grandpa was my greatest inspiration. He was my hero and I idolized him. He was the person that molded my athletic career and as my running career first began taking off, he was the one I always looked to. He was the strongest man I ever knew. Even at 70 he could do things that even some college athletes couldn’t do. In addition he left an impact on so many people’s lives. Being at the calling hours and funeral this past weekend I heard stories I had never heard. Stories about the way he helped people and the accomplishments he had along the way. His life was admirable and it was just the life he wanted. He and my grandmother never had much but they gave what they had to help others and I will forever cherish this.

My grandfather believed in hard work. He was tough and pushed his players so that they could meet their potential. He truly loved each and every one of his players and wanted them to succeed both in life and on the field. In my career he would go out of his way to help me succeed. I could see the joy in his face when he got the chance to coach me and witnessed the happiness he felt when he got to see me race. He presented me with my first state championship ring and I feel honored more than ever knowing he was so much more than just the man I knew as Grandpa.

Now in the post collegiate realm unsure of my ability to run professionally I feel even more driven to make it because of my Grandfather. The last thing he said to me was, “When I get better I am going to come down there and see you race.” I always get choked up when I think about this but then I remember where he is now. He is in a place where he is happy and healthy and can be at each and every one of my races. He is in heaven  and at peace with God. From here on out my 10k life will be in tribute to him.

2/2/2014 RIP Grandpa Gerald: My Hero Forever.