September 27, 2017

Steak and Cocoa Butter

Carbs are great for running training and in the build-up to a race but protein is really important too so that we keep our muscles strong and repaired. How much protein you should have a day depends on many things such as weight, gender, what you are trying to achieve etc. but my rule of thumb is 1g for each kg of body weight. Remember this is very generalist.

Steak cooked in Cocoa Butter

Something I eat, on occasion, is fillet steak with salad which is great for a protein kick. A 200g eye fillet steak will provide approximately 52g protein.

I normally cook my steaks with olive oil but I have recently discovered cocoa butter and decided to give this a kick; olive oil is fine to use as long as it isn’t overheated. If overheated olive oil can change its structure which can be damaging to us. Cocoa butter comes in a powder form so throw it in a pan and fry the steaks as you would normally do so. Cocoa butter heats to 200 degrees easilyl so you get a great all round seal without burning it. Once I have fried on each side for a few minutes I then chuck the pan in the oven for five minutes then stand for a few minutes to get a wonderful, juicy, medium steak.

 

Steak cooked in cocoa butter with saladI serve my steak with salad, toasted pinenuts, balsamic glaze and a few olives and stuffed pepperdews on the side. Olives are great too as they are full on antioxidants. To keep on the chocolate theme I grated some raw chocolate over the salad and steak so the dish had that slight bitter, chocolate taste – delicious!

The brand of cocoa butter I use is Callebaut Mycryo and is available from some health stores and specialty chocolate shops and from Sissys Bix.

Detox Part 2!

Golden Rock Retreat Sunrise

Sunrise from Golden Rock

Last week I wrote about my first five days at the detox retreat in Bali. If you are keen to hear more here’s what happened the rest of the time day by day.

Day 6 – felt pretty good today with bags of energy; not bad considering I hadn’t eaten any solids for 6 days.  Did extra bounces on the trampoline and even managed a bit of skipping (I’d brought my skipping rope for this exact reason – perfect transportable piece of gym equipment). My heart rate was up a bit which was good (it is normally low 40′s) and all in all I felt good if not a little bored having the same agenda again. I also do have a strange urge for scones, jam and clotted cream – yum!

Day 7 – felt shocking and could barely reach for my water bottle. I put all this down to my over exertion the previous day. Also had a nasty case of not being able to keep my garlic juice down later in the day. It isn’t great on the way down and is even less pleasant on the way up!

Day 8 and 9 – felt pretty awesome both these days. Plenty of energy and one of the fellow inmates commented on how I was ‘glowing’. I am looking forward to day 10 though purely for a bit of variety.

Day 10 – the excitement of something different! Today is liver flush day. What this involves is drinking a lot of Epsom salts and olive oil. Effectively this flushes the liver removing large amounts of old bile and gallstones residing in the gall bladder. It is definitely one not to be tried at home unless you know what you are doing.

Day 11 and 12 – I felt pretty rotten after the liver flush initially but that soon cleared and I suddenly felt brilliant. Bags of energy and vitality. Also on these days I broke fast and got to eat fruit and green veggies; they tasted fantastic and full of flavour.

Fresh fruit post detox

Fresh fruit post detox

At the end of the detox I felt great; refreshed, destressed and recalibrated. I was also a few kilos lighter which will certainly help the running. One of the things I really wanted to be able to do was to step back from the everyday and take stock. This I achieved. It was great to be able to think about what I want to achieve in my own space. I’ve come away with a focus and renewed energy which I will put right into running. The other thing I want to do is take up yoga; I feel fantastic after doing it for a couple of weeks; flexible and strong.

As for the detox retreat it was great and is recommended. It’s called Golden Rock in Bali. Another great one is Samui Detox in Thailand. I would say Samui Detox is a bit tougher in that you have fewer juices and more walking but they also explain the treatments a lot better. Kim, who owns Samui Detox, is constantly on hand to explain what the treatments are to talk to you about nutrition (she’s qualified in it). That bit was missing from Golden Rock for me. Luckily I’ve detoxed before so I didn’t need much explanation.

Happy Cleansing!

 

Need a boost? Try a detox retreat

Sometimes I get to the point where I am completely strung out and it really impacts my running. Life is busy and we now do so much multi tasking that often parts of our lives suffer as a result. Recently I have had a lot going on and my running has taken a bit of a hit. So I needed to stop and take a break to recalibrate. For me the perfect answer to this was to go on a detox retreat; I’ve done this before and the results within me are fantastic.

Detox at the Golden Rock Retreat, Bali

Views from the retreat

I headed to Bali to the Golden Rock Retreat on the East of the Island for that break and here’s how I got on; you can then make your own mind up whether it might be beneficial to you.

So firstly, why did I choose this particular retreat? I have never been to Bali and fancied a change from my usual Thailand retreat. Golden Rock only has 5 villas so it has on average 5 or 6 guests at any one time; I love small retreats because you get more attention plus your own space which I certainly need. Finally the programme looked comprehensive and I thought I’d get a great experience. At Golden Rock you can detox/ fast for anything from 4 to 10 days and they are really flexible. I chose a 12 day retreat so I had two days to break the fast at the end.

The retreat is situated in an idyllic fishing village and is stunning. I was bowled over when I saw the views and the retreat itself; great villas and right on the ocean. You go to sleep and wake up listening to the waves….and quite a few fishermen hauling their catch too. Note, there is no phone coverage, which is great but be prepared and let whoever needs to know that you’ll be out of contact for a while, all part of the detox process!

Detox drinks including psyllium husk and bentonite clay

Some of the drinks on the retreat

The aim of the detox is to cleanse your body of all the toxins and stresses that we subject it to so we try to re-establish the balance of the body. This is done via a combination of fasting, treatments, yoga and relaxation.

Each day you drink a lot of different things including coconut water, juice, clear soup, magnesium oxide, psyllium husk and bentonite clay, vitamin C and the list goes on. Some of these are pretty horrid, others actually nice such as the papaya juice – yum! Surely the bad stuff must be doing us some good though! The staff are excellent and make sure we always know what to drink when. They seek you out to give you your next drink, shame it isn’t a mai tai!

In combination with fasting there are daily Chi Gung and Yoga sessions along with some trampoline work and the infra red sauna – awesome! You also get a massage daily which could be a healing, nerve or scrub massage and a session of reflexology, all excellent and the reflexology was incredibly relaxing. One thing I did miss though was a morning walk. In the detox retreat in Thailand we would go out for a walk every morning for an hour and a half and that was fantastic to get you going for the day.

Trampoline and infra red sauna

Exercising looking at the ocean - not bad!

The first few days I was getting used to the programme and working out what I needed to put where when. One thing I did discover painfully on day 1 is that all my running, and poor stretching, has resulted in my flexibility being shot. Gone is the day when I used to be able to do backflips, admittedly that was 20 years ago! So yoga was quite tough but by day 5 I was getting far more flexible.

I was a bit lethargic in the first few days and my blood pressure and resting heart rate kept dropping. Combining this with heat made climbing stairs (or anything) a bit tricky. By day 5 I did feel as though monotony was kicking in a bit; you do the same thing each day and my point of excitement was finding out what massage I had planned for that day. What you tend to find on these things is that your emotions can go up and down a bit; I was finding by day 5 that I was getting a bit anti social, especially with the newbies arriving. I was a bit waned by all their enthusiasm – they’ll learn! I was also suffering from cabin fever and was keen for something different or just to get out. I wasn’t missing food much in terms of hunger but I miss the tastes and smells associated with it.

So far so good though, next week I’ll share how the second half of the detox went and the results.  Tune in next week!

So chocolate is good for you!

Hand made chocolatesI had the great pleasure of being treated to a chocolate making class for my birthday and it was one of the best things I have done in a very long time. Not only did I make some amazing choccies but I also learnt so much about it and apparently it is actually pretty good for you. Chocolate is full of antioxidants but only if you eat the good stuff. Eat the rubbish and you get fat and sugar. So what has this got to do with running? Well us runners always need snacks and if chocolate is good for us I’d like to know more!

Firstly what is chocolate? Well it is from the Cacoa plant and the seeds are fermented then the beans roasted, dried and the shell removed to provide cocoa nibs. Cocoa nibs are available at some health stores and this is chocolate in its pure form. They are often put on cereal, salads and other food and are full of antioxidants and minerals.  I’ve just bought a block of pure, pure choccie in this form to play with in food. These cocoa nibs are ground to cocoa mass which is a mix of cocoa butter and cocoa solids; cocoa butter is separated from the solids. From here various products such as cream, vanilla, sugar and emulsifier are added to chocolate solids and some of the cocoa butter to make it the amazing thing we buy and eat.

Chocolate makingSo what is good and what isn’t? We have all probably heard how great dark chocolate is. Well it’s true depending on what you buy; the closer you can get to the pure chocolate form the better. Once you start adding sugar, milk, vegetable fat etc. you get away from what chocolate is. Some ‘chocolate’ out there is just fat and sugar. Find a chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids, no vegetable fat and natural bourbon vanilla. There are some amazing brands out there but the good ones which are easily accessible are Green and Blacks and Lindt. Stay away from chocolate with vegetable fat, vanillin and a low % of cocoa mass in. Some won’t even have cocoa butter in as it is more valuable out of the chocolate than in it. Nestle is a particularly poor brand. Nestle Melts have less than 16% cocoa, no cocoa butter and vegetable fat. Hmmm!

What benefits does chocolate have? Studies have shown that it can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, help improve cardiovascular problems amongst other things. Of course if you eat half a kilo of Cadbury’s a day it probably won’t help.

I’m now very conscious of what I am eating, I am staying clear of a few mainstream brands and focusing on quality. Also making your own chocolates is awesome and I totally recommend the cooking class I went to. See http://www.sissysbix.com/ for more information

What a great excuse to eat more of this amazing product! Enjoy!

Carbo loading – what is it and should we be doing it?

Carbohydrate loading is very popular amongst runners and is a phrase used often. But what does it mean and why do we do it? And actually should we be doing it at all?

Carbohydrate loading is an important part of long distance training

During exercise we use the glycogen stores in our muscles. During endurance training, i.e. marathons and exercise over 90 minutes, we deplete these stores so we need to optimise the stores so they last as long as possible.  During exercise for less than that the stores in our muscles are sufficient.

Carbo loading allows us to increase the glycogen in our muscles by approximately 50% so that we can perform at our optimum rate for longer. Marathoners are often known to ‘hit the wall’ about 10km before the end of the race. This is essentially the glycogen stores running out.

So how do we carbo load? About a week before race day start to eat more carbohydrate rich food then 4 days out eat plenty for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. This is where pasta comes in really useful. At the same time you want to taper off exercise so your body can store the carbohydrates as glycogen and you don’t use it up. In reality this means eating cereal, bananas, bread, pasta and potatoes. So great news – you can eat carbs! No Atkins diet here.

On race day your glycogen stores should be optimised to go into your race so you can perform your best.

Hot tips:

  • Remember to taper your training up to race day otherwise you won’t see the benefit of the carbo loading
  • I find carbo loading can make you feel gluggy and lethargic. If you aren’t used to eating a lot of carbs alter your diet to incorporate more carbs prior to race week. If you are doing long training runs you’ll need to do that anyway.
  • Make sure you have a fuelling plan during the race so you can keep hold on to those glycogen stores.

Good luck!

Yummy gnocchi – great pre race meal

Carbo loading is fairly commonplace before a big running race and pasta is a favourite amongst runners.

Here is a delicious alternative, gnocchi with mushrooms and truffle oil.

Pre race carbo load with gnocchi

I recommend making the gnocchi from scratch because it takes so delicious and you can make lots thereby giving you plenty of quick meals in the future. This recipe should make enough for 4 people.

To make the gnocchi you’ll need…

  • 500g desiree potatoes
  • 125g stong 000 flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg
  1.  Bake the potatoes for about an hour and a half until soft for mashing – let cool for a short while
  2. Use a mouli, sieve or potato ricer rice all the potatoes into a bowl and mix through with your fingers
  3. Add the egg yolks to the potato and mix with your fingers
  4. Add the flour gradually and mix with your fingers until you have a dough which isn’t too soft to the touch but is malleable
  5. Divide the dough into 4 and roll each into a thin roll on a floured surface
  6. Cut each roll into small pieces and take each piece and roll between both hands to create an oval shape
  7. Place the gnocchi pieces in salted boiling water (with some oil) and cook until they float to the surface.
  8. This step is really important to ensure awesome gnocchi.  Immediately remove the gnocchi pieces and place them in iced cold water; this prevents them cooking any further. When they are cool to the touch remove from the water – don’t leave in too long or they absorb too much water.  [Read more...]

Post Run Snacks

Great running foodWhen running you burn up a lot of energy which is exactly what you want. It’s great for the heart, your muscles, metabolism and weight management. However you need to ensure you put enough calories in and the right ones, pre and post running. This blog aims to give you some ideas of things to eat post run.

One of the golden rules Run Rabbit promotes is eating within an hour of finishing your run. This ensures you replace energy into your muscles quickly so they can recover and you can get back out running again and feel fantastic. It’s important to get a good mix of simple carbs and a small amount of protein, typically 4:1, for muscle repair; go easy on the protein, you need good carbs primarily.

Here are some of our suggested yummy post run snacks:

  • Banana and few almonds, i.e. 3 or 4 – great for carbs, fibre and a bit of protein in the nuts
  • Other fruit, e.g. apples, melon, berries but do try to have a few nuts with it. If you don’t like nuts or are allergic to nuts try chia seeds. [Read more...]