The Month of April: It’s been such a long time….

I’ve stolen title from one of my all time favorite Boston songs “Foreplay/Long Time” because I haven’t blogged in far too long. When this tune makes it way onto my shuffle during a run, a spring in my step is born again an nearly a mile is demolished by the end of the song. It’s got a good, simple message and it’s really just a fun song. I love Boston.

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The last few weeks and currently:

The month of able has been a minimal struggle bus for me. My runs have been better but my weekend eating habits have been…less than desirable, but I’m getting there.

I’ve started working at my old job again, plus nannying, my job with one of the best friends, and extra babysitting jobs. This motivated me to re-work my current workout/running schedule since my runs have been longer. (Now I need shorter runs during the week/long runs on weekends.) I wasn’t being active enough on my non-running days and I’ve been completely neglecting my upper body, so I’ve started a schedule that will look like this when I get into the swing of it:

 

Sunday: Walk, yoga for runners, plank (video)

Monday: Short run (5k-5miles) push-up/sit-up app

Tuesday: Yoga for runners, plank, walk

Wednesday: Short run, push-up/sit up app

Thursday: Yoga for runners, plank, walk

Friday: Walk to/from work (about a 1.5 miles), push-up/up app

Saturday: Long run

 

One of my best friends and I also did the To Write Love On Her Arms “Run For It” Virtual 5K on the 19th. It was my first time running with her and it was a total blast.

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Progress and dreams:

Remember how I sprained my ankle at the end of last month? That seems to be so far away considering my longest run EVER happened yesterday:

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My first 3.1 miles also happened in under 30 minutes, which was a new PR for me. After last run, I’ve decided this week to sign up for a half marathon near my town in August, which means I have 4 months to add 4 miles. I’m incredibly nervous, but I really wanted to do a half before RunDisney, so I know what it would be like. $65 gets me a race entry, t-shirt, medal, beer, and pizza. I can’t complain. I would love to hang another bib and medal to my holder and parade around in another race tee. =)

Saving for RunDisney:

I have 4 RunDisney saving methods as of right now: a “section” in my bank account, (I take a little bit of money out of my paycheck every week and put it in my balance book toward Disney) PactApp, Disney Visa rewards, and the singles/change shark piggy bank.

My actual bank savings method is similar to this:

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You deposit $2 extra every week. It will be a little off by the time Disney comes because I will have already paid for hotel, race registration, Disney tickets, Cinderella dinner, etc. But that’s also kind of nice, because then I pay a little bit at a time.

My PactApp (an app that pays you to food log/eat fruits and veggies/work out) has made me over $40 so far, which will go toward registration. I’m committed to 5 days of working out, 7 days of food logging, and 20 fruits/veggies for the week. I estimate I will have close to $60 by the time race registration goes life, which will be a nice chunk off my bill. Then, Pact money will start all over and that will go toward more Disney things.

All purchases I make go on my Disney Rewards Visa, which gives me 1% in Disney Dollars back on every purchase. This will likely go toward my food and park admission. I have a nice amount saved up so far on there as well, so it’s definitely exciting.

And finally, my singles/change bank. I don’t use a lot of cash, but I do get cash babysitting. Normally, I throw that in my bank account with everything else to pay bills or for “misc” money if those are all taken care of. Sometimes, a family will owe me $22 or $38 or something where they have to give me single dollar bills. Those go right into the shark piggy bank (I love sharks, okay.) and that will end up as “surprise” money for extra spending if needed/wanted for Disney. =)

Oh and on that Disney note, my submission for Pact’s #VegoftheWeek:

Do you wanna build a snowman? 😉

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The Middle of March: Vacation Survival and Injury Report

I apologize for the lack of posts! I’ve been in Minnesota visiting family for the good part of the month. I love vacation but get a little angsty about them at the same time. Going to unfamiliar restaurants while trying to change your eating habits can be intimadating, but it can be done! It’s getting a lot easier!

Here’s a little bit of what I ended up eating on vacation.

The hotel had free breakfast with hard boiled eggs, oranges, and bananas. I stocked up on bananas for pre-workout and I got up every other day at 5am to take advantage of the fitness center for an hour, then ate a post workout banana and egg. The days I didn’t exercise, I had an orange because I slept in late. On one of the days, I managed to pick up a sample of the Cookies and Cream Quest Bar for a pre-workout snack. SO GOOD.

If your hotel has a breakfast bar, opt to fill up on fruit if available. You can’t go wrong. Eggs, a couple slices of toast, and oatmeal are all really awesome choices.

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Many of my lunches were salads I modified. (Asking for dressing on the side, etc.) They’re huge, filling, and I always feel good after eating them.

I found this yummy salad while at the Mall of America. Greens, cranberries, chicken, goat cheese, and pecans.

Cold Stone was one of our stops at the mall. As tempted as I was to get a huge Birthday Cake Remix, (and I would have been fine to, remember, MODERATION!) I saw they offered sorbet! I ended up with a delicious watermelon treat with fresh raspberries and strawberries mixed in!

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Anytime I can substitute a side of fries for fruit or veggies, I do. Sometimes I get both! I wasn’t the best at remembering to take pictures, but we ended up at Applebee’s on of the nights. Their 600 calorie and under menu makes it a little easier. I opted for the salmon and veggies. Fuddruckers made a mean grilled chicken sandwich which I paired with a side salad. I had dinner with my grandparents at a nice restaurant which offered seafood choices! I had a lobster tail, (no butter!) a side salad, and a side of green beans. The picture below is a ham, turkey, tomato, and lettuce wrap that was offered at our hotel restaurant.

Remember to BE a “pain.” Ask for substitutions, no dressing or condiments, etc. You can enjoy vacation while staying on track. I went so far as keep my Pact apps pacts as is with food logging and veggies to help me make better choices. The only thing I changed was my GymPact, because the app can’t verify most hotel gyms.

I still made $2.75 for the week!

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But sometimes.

You have to splurge. Remember how I opted out of Cold Stone?

I was saving myself for Mac’s.

Mac’s is a macaroni and cheese shop in downtown Wisconsin Dells. If you know anything about the Dells, you know the food is disgusting for the most part. But not Mac’s. I had been there once last October and was itching to go back to get my fill. Thankfully, we stopped on the way back home.

Behold, my friends.

Loaded Baked Potato Mac. The best mac and cheese in the world topped with bacon, sour cream, chives, and baked potato. Seriously. Runner. Carbs. Moderation.

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The other part of my post is “Injury Report.” Remember how at the end of 2013, I hit 6 miles of solid running then sprained my foot in the middle of January? Well, I hit 6 miles around the beginning of March and guess what? I sprained my ankle the morning of vacation.

I have been so determined not to go back to starting my 10K app all over like last time, though I am more willing to. Instead of sitting around, I’ve been doing the elliptical. Which I HATE. At first, I set to no resistance and aimed for the number of strides similar to my running, but I felt like I was doing nothing. So I went for the interval training program offered on the hotel elliptical and went on for an hour. I burned about 100 calories less than I normally do running and I was a mile short, but MAN. I was sweating, my heart was going, and my muscles were WORKING. My ankles feels good now, but I have to be careful. I’m doing the elliptical for the rest of the week, then starting the running again on Monday.

Here’s to hoping I’ll be back to 6 miles within a few weeks! I want to start half marathon training.

3.3.14-3.10.14: Monday to Monday and Fighting Fat Tuesday

Monday:

I can’t seem to get out of bed on Mondays. I set my alarm for 6 and 7 this morning, laughed, and fell back asleep as soon as they went off. Around 9am, I realized I had to get up to throw in my pork loin into the slow cooker to make SkinnyTaste.com’s skinny pulled pork. (This is the second time I’ve made it. It’s INCREDIBLE.) I did my kitchen thing and settled onto the couch for with a Quest bar, Activia, and Harney & Sons Tropical Green tea. (If you’re a tea lover, you seriously need to check out Harney. They MADE me a tea lover!)

I broke the number one fitness rule and weighed myself after I ate but to my surprise, I’ve lost about 3 pounds in this past month, only with 3/4 of an inch around my stomach, so I can’t complain! More importantly, my eating has improved quite a bit and I feel a lot better during my runs!

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On that note, I went to my favorite bagel place for lunch, but since I opted for a banana as a side, I was able to add another fruit to my newly made Veggie Pact for the week. I’ve only committed to 5 veggies out of a possibly 35 (or 5 veggies a day per week) so I can get used to the idea of eating more fruits and veggies and taking a picture of it.

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Tuesday:

Fat Tuesday? Not for this girl! I started the morning with a green smoothie. This day was kind of a snooze fest, but I did enjoy a nice session of yoga in the evening!

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Wednesday:

Today, I met one of my best friends for a lunch date at a pancake house in Plainfield. I couldn’t resist a fresh fruit topped waffle and egg whites! (Normally what I get at the Double Yolk too! What can I say, I’m a creature of habit!) We chatted for hours over good food and tea. She lives about an hour away from me, so it’s always a treat to see her!

After lunch, I picked up some more “Nothing Bundt Cakes” at the request of my momma since it was on the way home! Luckily, today was running day, so I treat myself and enjoyed every single bite! =)

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Dinner was turkey tacos, so not the healthiest, but definitely lightened up! We use low carb taco shells, low sodium taco seasoning, and pile on the lettuce. It’s crazy how simple changes can effect your food and body! I eat a lot of ground turkey versus ground beef now and my tummy is definitely a lot happier.

My GymPact email came in for last week! I earned a little over $3! I’ve made just over $13 so far! I love this so much!

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Weekend:

The rest of the week was somewhat unexciting, but I have to touch on the weekend. I get up early on Saturdays to get the gym session outta the way so I can enjoy the rest of the day with my family. The gym sessions have been killer this week because my feet are having a hard time healing from my new shoes, so I have to wrap and bandage them hardcore. My feet are mummies.

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I also reclaimed my throne as mayor at my gym on foursquare. I was mayor for over a year and someone stole it (rude!) while I was out with my sprained foot.

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I enjoyed Red Robin Saturday night with the family, (Opted for a plain turkey burger on multigrain bread with a side of broccoli and fruit!) then brunch on Sunday. The weather was FINALLY beautiful here in the burbs of Chicago, so I walked to the library and spent a couple of hours there. My dad and I spent Sunday night watching hockey and eating my cheat meal for the week, Papa Johns!

Monday:

I DID IT. I set my alarm for 4am this morning to get to the gym before a busy day filled with babysitting, work, and epic car cleaning. I got outta bed, ate my Quest bar, and headed out.

Today’s run was supposed to run 30 minutes/walk 1 minute/run 30 minutes. I was feeling really good at the 29 minutes mark so I decided to run on and told myself if I felt like I needed to stop, then I could, so I kept going. The time suddenly became 20 minutes left, then 12, then 4 minutes?!?! I was going for the gold.

Finally, after a month in a half, I HIT 6 MILES AGAIN TODAY. I’m so excited I could scream. 6 miles before 6am?! DONE AND DONE. Beast mode. My plan is to run that a few more time until I’m really comfortable, probably for the rest of the month, then I start…HALF MARATHON TRAINING. I’m too excited.

I refueled after the run and finished my gigs for the day. My run is done, my work is done, my car is clean, and the “lightened up” tater tot casserole (ground turkey, low sodium cream of mushroom soup, fat free sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, and tater tots!) is in the oven. Fantastic Monday!

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RunDisney Musings:

Though I adore my job(s) and I’m putting away a little each week from GymPact, I need more cash for Disney, especially if my cousin and I decide to do coast to coast. I’m thinking about going back to my old place of employment if they’ll have me! I definitely need the cash. I plan on following the “Save Money for a Disney Vacation” pin you always see on Pinterest, but since I’m only saving for myself, I will do it by $2 increments. I can’t wait to see what they say. I miss working with kids and I miss the family-like environment there.

I also decided I want to complete a half marathon before Disney so I know what it’s like! From reading everything, there are A LOT of stops at the Disney Half, so it’s gonna be way different, but it’s still 13.1 glorious miles that I need to cover. I wanted to do a local one in November, but that sold out FAST, so I have to keep my eyes peeled for another!

2.27.14-3.1.14: Getting Closer and Dad Plays Hockey

Thursday:

I was in bed and out by 10:30pm, but I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed this morning. At 10am, I had a Quest bar, which is also my way of telling myself, “YOU ARE EATING A $2 PROTEIN BAR. YOU WILL GO TO THE GYM LATER NO MATTER WHAT.” Seriously, if I need any motivation, the money I spend (or what my momma graciously spent this time around) on Quest bars is that.

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Around noon, I ate leftover taco pasta casserole, and headed to the store with my mom to do our weekly grocery shopping. I was super proud of myself because I had $20 worth of coupons this time around, so we saved a nice chunk of change. I am in no way, shape, or form an extreme couponer or stock-piler, but since I am home a lot, I like to do things to help out around the house since my parents let me live here rent-free. I spend a couple hours a week meal planning, looking for coupons and store ads, and matching them up to yummy, healthy recipes I find to save some cash. I’m getting better at it and I enjoy contributing any way I can.

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Later on, I did make it to the gym. Today’s run (run 17 mins/1 min walk x3) went extremely well EXCEPT for the the last half of the last run. I felt like I could fly today which made it super tempting to go for the 60 minutes, but I’m glad I stuck to the plan. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m SO happy I made myself go back and start over. I would have still been beating myself up over only hitting a mile and a half or even 3 miles instead of feeling accomplished.

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I also go my official GymPact email for last week. I ended up making $2.90, so about 50c more than last time for 2 extra days of food logging and 1 more day at the gym. Next week, I might attempt to add the veggie pact, and once I get into the yoga routine better, I’ll add an extra day at the gym.

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Friday:

After a quick home yoga session, I was ready to start the day. I threw together some apples, strawberries, pineapples, and raspberries in a cup and let my immersion blender do the heavy lifting. My favorite thing to do in the morning is sit down with a smoothie and mindlessly watch whatever’s on tv. Today, I added an Activia yogurt to my breakfast. I’ve always bloated pretty bad no matter what I eat, so I’m trying to incorporate more probiotics in my life. My mom and sister have had good luck with this yogurt with their digestive issues, so I figured why not try.

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After a good lunch, I got to work in the kitchen. Today’s project included a clean, healthy recipe and a….not so clean recipe. I started the afternoon with filling our house with the glorious smell of my Nutella banana bread muffins, inspired by AverieCooks.com’s recipe! (all you have to do is add a half a jar of Nutella to her recipe!) I always try to “clean up” my recipes as much as possible, but there are some recipes that are best full fat, sugar, calorie filled goodness. Props to those of you who can make brownies and cookie dough out of beans. Blech. =) After the banana bread was in the oven, I started the clean fruit snacks by ThankYourBody.com. They turned out awesome!

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Saturday:

I woke up at 7am and hustled to the gym. I was feeling confident today, so I up’d my run: 18 minute run/1 minute walk 3 times. I had to stop midway through my last run, but I felt great overall. I only restarted a week and a half ago and I’m already a little over midway through the program. I feel awesome.

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It’s Saturday, so you know I had a delicious apple walnut salad from Portillo’s today, but dinner was my favorite. My “cheat” meal once a week is normally Saturday night and is usually pizza. My FAVORITE pizza place is California Pizza Kitchen BECAUSE THEY MAKE ME A MAC N CHEESE PIZZA. CARB LOVING RUNNER’S HEAVEN. (This is why I make SURE I do a good run on Saturday…so I’m able to cheat haha) I look forward to it because I normally *only* eat 3/4 of the pizza and have a couple of slices left over for dinner. =) It makes me super happy.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, my old man plays hockey for a league called, “OMG” or “Old Men’s Group” at the local rink. He’s been playing hockey since he was 11, so he’s really passionate. My dad’s a tendy and got a new mask for his birthday he made his own with some sweet decals. I play photographer and number 1 (and most of the time only) fan for the dads that take over the ice on Saturday nights. Tonight, we got to the rink early and watched the Hawks demolish the Pens from the snack bar until it was dad’s time to play gatekeeper. He did pretty well, but toward the end of the 90 minutes, he and the rest of the guys were exhausted. They put on a fun show, though!

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After hockey, dad and I headed to Steak N Shake, order a salad and a Coke Zero (yeah, yeah, not the healthiest, but it kept me from ordering their new pizza burger!) and we looked through all the pictures I took. I didn’t get in bed until 1am, but it was worth it!

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I’m ready to take on this next week!

2.24.14-2.26.14: Is is Spring yet?

Monday:

This day was so boring it’s not even worth trying to make exciting. Onward.

Tuesday/RunDisney Musings:

It was running day so I started the morning with a Quest bar that had the biggest chocolate pieces I have EVER seen. It was incredible.

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I felt good today, so I skipped ahead in my 5K to 10K app. Today, I ran for 17 minutes/walked for 1 minute and repeated two more times for a total of 51 minutes and approximately 5.1 miles. 6 minutes/.6 miles more than I had been doing the last two runs. I felt pretty good about it, but I did take an additional minute to walk in between. Overall, I just feel good about making progress again, rather than feeling discouraged and stuck.

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I’m really excited about registering for the Spring Gallop 5K in Aurora. Though it’s “only” a 5K, I’m so excited to get back outside for a race and to hang the next race bib on my holder. I keep checking CARA’s website for a good 10K race in the future and I’m leaning toward Plainfield’s Fast Cat. I definitely want to run one before the summer hits. I don’t run too well outside in extreme heat. Kind of funny seeing as I dream of running a race on Florida humidity.

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Speaking of dream races, if you haven’t heard yet, RunDisney has announced a NEW race: an AVENGERS themed half marathon and 5K taking place at Disneyland in California! My cousin and I have talked and we want to possibly go for a coast to coast medal next year. (Where you run at least a half marathon distance at Disney World and Disneyland in the same year.) Since Princess falls in February and the Avengers race will take place in the fall, I’m hoping it will be slightly easier to save for both since there is a nice cushion of recovery time for the moolah.

After the run and a good dinner, I finished up the night with a babysitting gig.

Wednesday:

Today I got to sleep in just a tad. I woke up and was desperately craving chocolate. I whipped up my chunky monkey smoothie and chilled out before heading out to go babysit for a couple of hours.

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My little nugget was so exhausted today. We play trains, watched Scooby-Doo, and he passed out within 5 minutes of laying down for his nap.

With babysitting complete, I set out to make dinner for my family, taco pasta casserole. It’s one of our favorites. I demolished my food and headed out to yoga.

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This class was called “Yoga for Athletes,” which had a lot of stretching on my legs which is AWESOME in conjunction with my running.

(Derp face and creepin with my sister.)

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It’s 8:15pm here and I am exhausted. I’ll probably head to bed in a few. Running in the morning then  my favorite activity: grocery shopping for next week! =)

“Lightened Up” Taco Pasta Casserole

I love Pinterest because it provides inspiration for so many meals. More specifically, Pinterest links me to people who come up with amazing dishes. I was more than inspired by Curry and Comfort’s Taco Pasta Bake. I took her original recipe and made some simple swaps to lower the calorie content. (Which comes to about 375 calories per serving.) Now I use a lot of reduced fat/no fat ingredients when I cook dinner, but not because I’m so concerned about fat content, but because it tends to have lower calories. Many people worry about macros before calories. I tend to put calories first BUT have protein and carbs as a close second. I run a lot. I need protein and carbs to keep me full and provide me with energy. This method works for ME. Modify the recipe however you wish to fit YOUR needs. =)

Casserole will make 8 servings.

Alright, enough small talk, let’s get cooking:

  • 12 oz of pasta (I use Creamette’s 150 calorie per serving pasta or whole wheat)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 onion (I normally use small to medium size)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (1/2 tsp is equal to 1 clove)
  • 1 packet of reduced sodium taco seasoning (or 2-3 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • lime juice to taste
  • 1 cup salsa (I like plain old mild, but pick your favorite!)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat sour cream (I use Kemp’s.)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • shredded cheese to your liking (I tend to use a cup. I like reduced fat Mexican cheese for this recipe, but I’ve also used fat free cheddar by Kraft)

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First thing’s first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get your pasta cooking.

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Next, chop up that onion and get it cooking in a nice, big skillet. I like to start on medium/high heat to get the onion cooked really well. Next, add your ground turkey and minced garlic. Cook until the turkey has browned.

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Next, add your taco seasoning and cumin. Mix.

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Time to add your salsa, water, and lime juice. I like to add a little bit of lime juice all through out my skillet. Stir!IMG_2513

By now, your pasta should be nice and tender. First add your cream, stir, then add your pasta and mix well.

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Spray your baking dish with cooking spray. You’ll need a big one! Add your Taco Pasta to the dish. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Throw your casserole in the oven uncovered for 15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.

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I could probably eat the whole pan. I honestly always eat about a serving and a half. My family of 4 always has a nice bowl of leftovers, so I know lunch the next day will always be amazing. Enjoy!

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Chunky Monkey Smoothie

This is so easy to make, it really shouldn’t even be considered an actual recipe. I love to make this because it is chocolatey, creamy, and really helps me recover after a run. Did I mention chocolate?

Oh, and if you use unsweetened almond milk, it comes out to just 300 calories.

So really, all you’re gonna need is:

  • Blender or immersion blender
  • 2 cups of milk of your choice (I LOVE unsweetened vanilla almond milk!)
  • 2 ripe  frozen bananas (I let my bananas sit out until they get lots of brown spots on em, then I freeze them, and let them thaw until they are that perfectly cold but kind of soft stage)
  • 1 tablespoon (or so) of unsweetened cocoa powder

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Throw in those bananas into your cup or blender.

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Then cocoa! Remember, it’s unsweetened, but your ripe bananas should provide natural sweetness. I usually throw in about a tablespoon, but ya might have to play around with it to find a taste that works for you! =)

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Milk! If you’re using an immersion blender, I tend to dump in only a cup first, blend a bit, then pour the rest in. It just makes it easier for me. Blend until smooth.

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Beautiful deliciousness.

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