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Not Quite Nutella

Back in my pre-vegan days, one of my favorite guilty pleasures was the creamy, chocolately, hazelnutty spread known as Nutella.

I was first introduced to Nutella by Mrs. Mays, my high school French teacher. Then I rediscovered it a few years ago when I needed something to take to a party to share and the rest was history.

I was in love. I ate Nutella on bread, in oatmeal, mixed in with dry cereal, many many times. Check out this picture from February 2009:

But as much as I love Nutella, when I decided to go vegan in October 2009, I had to say goodbye. If only Nutella didn’t contain milk…it might be the only thing I really “miss” since giving up animal products.

I’m too lazy to make a homemade version myself so I’ve been curious to know if there is a vegan-friendly Nutella-like product on the market.

Then I found this:

I had seen the Justin’s Chocolate Nut Butters raved about on the blogs of both Heather and Matt, two of my favorites. So when I found it at Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago, I decided I had to see for myself.

I probably could’ve picked something better to try it on (like some French bread maybe?) but I drizzled it over my pumpkin oatbran on Friday morning. You know how I love pumpkin!

Now, don’t get me wrong or let the title fool you. This was a delicious breakfast and it left me full for hours!

But it wasn’t Nutella. Not quite anyway.

I’m starting to wonder if it’s just been so long since I’ve had the stuff that I don’t even remember what it tastes like? The Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut butter had a good flavor, but reminded me more of Dark Chocolate Dreams PB than Nutella.

It’s got to be the skim milk (note: Nutella also contains whey). Even the generic Kroger-brand version of the stuff is good. But I don’t do dairy anymore. Not even for Nutella.

Oh well. Perhaps I will give it another shot in the future on something other than pumpkin oatbran. What do you think?

Should I break down and try to recreate the stuff myself? Anybody got a recipe?

Holy planks

Ouch, my upper body and core muscles are sore today!

Everything I ate yesterday held me over rather well. Even the smoothie from the morning; I was worried that because I didn’t have any grains I would be hungry by 8:00 but no such thing happened. It doesn’t hurt that I drink coffee and chug water when I get to work 😉

Lunch was surprisingly good and that beautifulness that is Fage 2% w/ Cherry held me over well through the afternoon, a workout, and until dinner which was almost 5 hours!

Workout

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. I’m not sure why I think of this as a “bummer” or a “bad thing” but I don’t think I’m cut out for the long distance running, at least not if I can’t commit to a serious training schedule. Last year, I was a beast. I followed the training to a T and did the races almost effortlessly; but then I burned out. I’ve done ok this year, but I struggled at the end of the 10-miler, doing lots of walking, and I know next weekends mini-marathon is going to be a challenge as well. So I’m thinking about walking the whole thing. What do you guys think?

For some perspective, my outdoor workout included a one hour walk. I walk pretty fast normally, so I estimate I kept a good 15-minute mile pace (or 4.0 mph). I expected to be disappointed and not even feel like I worked out, but that was so not the case. I should remember, was not long ago that I was walking every day, that’s one of the things that helped me lose over 70 lbs (in addition to healthy eating)! I was breathing harder than I would on a stroll, I sweated (not as much as with running), and my legs are still sore today, just not as much as they would have been. And I chose a route that included some inclines, so that was challenging too. Plus it was just so nice to be out in the warm sunshine, taking in the sights and not overexerting myself.

So I think my walk was a success. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with changing my routine to short distance running and long distance walking. I’m totally a 5k runner and I did enjoy the challenge of the 10k, but the longer distances are/were not my friend this year. We’ll see, I’ll keep you all posted for sure 🙂

After my walk, I went back to the gym for some good stretching; I’ve been incorporating yoga poses into my routine which has really helped my calves and hips (down dog and pigeon). Now that the races are winding down, I so want to get back into yoga classes. I really miss how yoga makes me feel. So that’s on the to do list.

I also did something inspired by Angela, planks and side planks, oh boy! I started off in regular plank holding for 1 minute. This alone was a miracle because I used to shake and curse through 30 seconds, so being able to do it for a minute without complaining was inspiring to me. Now the side planks (with one arm) I could only hold for 30 seconds each. I rotated from side to side, doing each of the three planks twice. That’s why my arms and core are sore today! 😉

For dinner, my husband cooked some chicken on the grill (marinated in buffalo sauce!) and I had a sweet potato with whipped butter and cinnamon and a slice of flax toast with butter as my sides.

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For dessert, two more great pieces of advice (one said “Happiness is Contagious” I remember that!). My dad calls dark chocolate his “blood pressure medication” (rolls eyes)…

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The husband and I watched “Role Models” which was pretty cute but definitely for adults only; we’re big KISS fans, so if you’ve seen the flick, you can imagine what parts we enjoyed the most 🙂 I really enjoy Paul Rudd, always have. I’ve had “Love Gun” stuck in my head since last night, going on 12 hours now, hahaha. At our wedding, my husband and I danced our first dance to “Forever” by KISS. Our future children are going to be so embarrassed by us 😉

During the flick, I got a little snacky…guess that walk was more powerful than I thought, so I had a cup of Multigrain Cheerios and some tea.

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Then, I guess this was sort of an experiment, but I had a second cup with a spoonful of Nutella

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I guess this addiction has been broken without me knowing it?! This stuff used to not last a week in my house and now I’ve only had two spoonfuls in almost a week! And last night when I ate this, I actually said to myself “This tastes too sweet!” Hahaha. I guess cutting out the CRAP really did away with some cravings after all. Nutella is not (really) crap, although the first ingredient is sugar. There are healthier alternatives out there too, but its not too bad to have in moderation.

I think I will reserve the rest of it for recipes or if I get a nice loaf of french bread one day, ooh or some croissants? 🙂

Happy Friday, yay, we made it!!

Papa John’s 10-miler ‘09

On race day morning, I had my usual pre-race tradition, which I found out today is pretty similar to what Caitlin fuels up on before a race, haha…

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Two slices of whole wheat toast with PB and banana and a glass of 1% milk. I also ended up having some coffee too, which is new for me because I’m usually too afraid to drink coffee before a race. Luckily, I had no problems and it even helped me wake up before I got to the starting line 🙂

I got through the first 8 miles doing a reasonable 9:2 minute ratio of running to walking. I was averaging 10:30-11 minute miles. But after 8, I really started to hurt…my knees, feet, ankles, calves, ugh. So I changed over to 4:1 minutes so that my walking breaks would be more frequent. That became 4:2 and then 4:4, but I finished the race RUNNING and it was hard but I was pleased with how I finished:

Time: 1:53:39

Distance: 10.0 miles

Calories burned: est. 900-1000

I had to wait for my mom and two aunts to finish walking the race, so I went back to the car and took some much needed post-race therapy:

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I usually don’t take ibuprofen, but since I was already in pain, I figured it couldn’t hurt. The Golden Tiger cream was from my mom’s chiropractor, who she says is into holistic medicine. Cool!

These two things were the perfect combo, that and my recovery snack:

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Panera cinnamon crunch bagel with VitaminWater 10 XXX which is acai-blueberry-pomegranate apparently (I drank it really fast). I usually just drink water but the duration of my exercise called for something with some added power. Tasty, good ingredients and vitamins: this hit the spot, quenched my thirst and brought my energy levels back waaaay up. The bagel was awesome too. Usually I’m afraid to eat after a race but I knew as long as this one was, I really needed it.

I sat in the car with my feet propped up for almost an hour. Between that, my snack and the Golden Tiger, I wasn’t even feeling like I ran a race when I got home. Even the next day, my biggest complaints of soreness were my upper body and abs, which was from my workout on FRIDAY. Haha.

When I got settled again, I met my friend Courtney for shopping, lunch & a trip to the library (which in this economy is so much cheaper than going to the bookstore). While out and about, we tried some of the new Pom light teas. I got the pomegranate wildberry white tea:

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It tasted pretty good and was a nice alternative to water. I just don’t choose to use calories on beverages too often so this is a once in a while treat.

For lunch, we stopped at a little place called Great Life Cafe, which is apparently inside of a gym, haha. We found it on the internet! I got the buffalo chicken wrap, which satisfied all my cravings (for some reason, I’m all about the buffalo sauce these days):

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That and a tall glass of water was enough to hold me for a while, but when I got home, I was all snacky again. I had a pita pocket with 1 tbsp of Nutella. Yes, you read that right, I’ve let the beast back in my house…

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What’s cool though is that I haven’t had any more since this time and its two whole days later!

For dinner, I picked up some takeout from McAlister’s Deli and they have some really great additions to their menu. I got the Mediterranean Feta flatbread pizza, which was only $5.79 and look how HUGE it is:

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I ate half and put the other half in the fridge for the next day 🙂 It was really thin and crispy (how I like it) and the veggies and feta were so good. I think I was Greek in a past life.

For dessert, I had some M&M’s…

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while we watched “How to lose friends and alienate people” (with Simon Pegg from Shaun of the Dead). It was pretty crazy and hilarious and it was nice to see Kirsten Dunst in a movie, I used to like her a lot when I was younger and it seems like its been a while since I’d seen her.

Then I went to bed early because I am old ran a 10 mile race! 🙂