Better Banana Bread

Everyone and his or her mother (and her mother) has a go-to banana bread recipe. If you purchase bananas with any regularity, at some point you’ll need one because bananas are in a race against humanity and start browning the moment you look at them in the store. 
I have perhaps 10 banana bread recipes–all of them different, and all of them delicious. This version is distinguished by its virtues, namely Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour. The fat I’ve chosen is coconut oil, which gives this bread a come-hither aroma and a subtly exotic flavor. Coconut oil lends richness and moisture to the crumb.  
I’ve kept my bread simple, but you can add toasted walnuts, pecans, or chocolate chips if you favor mix-ins. Try a slice with cream cheese or peanut butter. Or Nutella, if you’re a libertine like me.

Better Banana Bread

Yield: One 9×5-inch loaf
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional but recommended
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Pinch salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl combine the eggs, coconut oil, yogurt, sugars, vanilla extract, and mashed bananas. Beat on medium speed to combine. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, and salt; stir just till all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until top is golden and set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If bread browns before the center is set, you can tent the pan loosely with foil.
  4. Let bread cool in pan 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  5. Bread will keep in an air-tight container (I use a resealable gallon-size plastic bag) in the refrigerator for up to a week. Wrap tightly and freeze for longer storage. 

Giveaway: The Buoy from Turnstone

Meet the Buoy, from Turnstone. While it doesn’t make sitting exactly “fun,” it does make it a lot more enjoyable.

What, exactly, is the Buoy? It’s a seat with a contoured base that enables the sitter to tilt up to 12 degrees and swivel while seated. It’s active sitting, engaging the core and leg muscles to stabilize the sitter, and it’s a pretty good improvement on the passive variety.

Weighing in at only 20 pounds, the Buoy can accommodate sitters of various heights. An easy-to-activate lever lets you adjust the height from 17 to 22.5 inches. The Buoy is also customizable…you get to choose from a selection of base and cap colors. (My personal Buoy features a “Geranium” cloth cap on a Black base–it’s pretty chic, I have to say.)

Although it’s not designed for long hours of sitting–the cloth cap is fairly slim and doesn’t offer a ton of padding–it’s perfect for short tasks and activities like TV watching. Have a grad leaving for college? I think the Buoy would be a terrific addition to a dorm room!

So, my friends…how about a Buoy of your own? The lovely folks at Turnstone want to give you one! Go ahead and fill out the form below to earn your chances to win. The winner will get to customize his or her own Buoy. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Keep Your Cool

red rock trail vista Running a hot-weather race is no joke, and here in Las Vegas, pretty much every race between May and October has the potential to be a broiler. So what to do? Don’t let the heat melt your resolve to enjoy racing regardless of the climate. Here are 10 things you can do to keep your cool during a race where the temps and/or humidity combine to make for challenging racing conditions.

  1. Dress for success. It may seem counterintuitive to wear long sleeves when it’s hotter than a griddle at a truck stop, but the intensity of the sun will convince you pretty quickly that it’s a good idea. Loose long sleeves in light colors and moisture-wicking material are best. Investigate heat gear at your local running or outdoor supply store to see what’s comfortable for you.
  2. Protect your neck. And your ears, top of the head (including bald spots), nose, throat, front of the neckline, etc.–all those body parts that you might not typically pay attention to will require anointing with sunblock to keep from burning.
  3. Heads up. Wear a hat with a brim and a drape to cover the back of the neck. If you don’t have a shrouded hat, consider wearing a bandanna or a buff around your neck. Keep in mind that visors will shade the face but leave the top of the head open to sun exposure.
  4. Cool it. Pay attention to the body’s hot spots to help regulate your temperature. Pour cold water over your head at aid stations; mist yourself with ice water; cover your head with a hat or bandanna and wet it down periodically; roll ice into your buff and wear it around your neck. Note: Being wet will increase your risk of chafing, so be sure to compensate by wearing plenty of body lube.
  5. Block those rays. Get a quality sunblock with the highest SPF you can find and apply it liberally, then reapply it during your race if you are sweating heavily or spraying yourself down. I like Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple–it’s zinc-based, has an SPF of 50, and holds up nicely.
  6. Bottoms up. Hydration is obviously critical in staying comfortable. Have a hydration plan in place before your race so you know what works best for you. For example, I know that I require a lot of hydration in hot weather. I accommodate for this by muling a hydration pack even when there are aid stations on the course. Sip your water, don’t chug it–that will prevent “sloshy gut,” which is no one’s idea of a good time. Monitor what you’re taking in: if you’re consuming sports gels or chews, read the package: most should be taken with water and not electrolyte beverages.Red Rock Canyon Trail
  7. But think before you drink. Don’t make the mistake of over-hydrating, which can cause a dangerous and potentially fatal condition known as hyponatremia. Be sure that your hydration plan includes a way to monitor your sodium and electrolyte intake. Experiment with electrolyte or salt tablets, specially formulated hydration beverages, or salty snacks such as potato chips or pretzels to find what works best and doesn’t upset your stomach.
  8. Revise your expectations. If it’s hot as blazes, don’t expect to run hell for leather during the race. Run the easy parts and jog/walk/shuffle the more challenging parts.  Concentrate on enjoying the race and keeping yourself safe and reasonably comfortable.
  9. Treat your feet. Heat and sand are two things that will wreck your feet–and your race–if you don’t prepare for them. Wear gaiters to keep sand and gravel out of your shoes. Tape any potential problem areas with breathable (not duct) tape. If you use lube (Aquaphor, A&D ointment, etc.), know that any sand that gets into your shoes will likely stick to your lube. Be prepared to wipe down your feet and relube them periodically. Wear moisture-wicking socks and change them if they get sweat- or sand-logged.
  10. Pay attention. Know the signs of both heat sickness and hyponatremia and take care of any symptoms as soon as they appear. Don’t just “gut it out.” Be smart, race well, and finish happy.

IMG_7135Here are some helpful links for info on running in extreme heat conditions:

Filed under: Heat training, Las Vegas, Trail Running Tagged: desert running, heat training, Las Vegas, racing, trail running, training

Five Ways to Celebrate National Running Day

Today, June 4, is National Running Day! To help you make the most of your celebration, I’ve put together a list of ways you can participate in the festivities.

  1. Run long(er). If you typically go out for 3 miles on your run, push forward to 4 or 5. You don’t know how far you can go till you just keep going!50b19680de0634b78865614edb4d7ebd
  2. Try a trail. If you’re usually a road runner, try a trail. There’s something celebratory about running wild. You might fall in love with a whole new facet of the sport! If you’re already a trail runner, try running a trail you’ve maybe heard about but never run before. If two paths diverge in a yellow wood, take the less traveled one (but don’t blaze your own unless your wildlife survival skills are on point).
  3. Register for a race. You’ve had an eye on that race for a long time now. You fantasize about adding the medal (or buckle) to your collection. Or maybe you’re new to running and haven’t worked up the courage to enter a race yet. Today is the day! Visit UltraSignup and Active to find and register for races from 5K fun runs to 100-plus-mile ultramarathons.  It’s a great time to face your Goliath–go forth and register!
  4. Treat yourself. New shoes? New shorts? New bling? Yes, please. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to head to your local running store and have your foot/stride/gait evaluated in a professional fitting.41458b382daee578d683aaa162895a09
  5. Just go. No second thoughts today. You have time. Lace up and head out. Give whatever you can to your run. Just enjoy the process. Fall back in love with running.

How are you going to celebrate? Leave a comment and share!

Filed under: Holidays, National Running Day, Races, Trail Running, Ultramarathons, Uncategorized Tagged: National Running Day, racing, trail running