Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone.  Here’s to a happy, healthy, active 2018!  My number one resolution, is to write more.  So, with that said, please, tell me what you’d like more of from Nicol Living.  Recipe’s, DIY projects, exercise tips etc…  Actually, I’ve decided I don’t like the word “exercise”.  I’m replacing it with “movement” or “practice”. 

Tell me what you want to read more about, friends.   Happy New Year 2018

Coconut Flour Biscuits

Coconut flour biscuits

I was making my usual weekly batch of muffins.  I decided to try coconut flour instead of brown rice or spelt flour.  The results are amazing.  I turned them into biscuits instead of muffins due to the consistency of the dough.  The consistency was more like a pie crust, dense, stiff vs. cake like.  What I like most about them, is the fact that coconut flour contains protein and fiber.  Therefore, when I eat two in the morning possibly topped with fresh ground nut butter, I am full.  The biscuits along with my coffee, is the perfect filling, fast and tasty breakfast. 

So just like my muffins, I don’t have a specific recipe that I follow.  I just use whatever I have on hand.  Here is what I did in terms of baking and ingredients for this particular batch.  Feel free to follow exactly, or make the recipe more your own.

Coconut Flour Biscuits

  • 2 cups coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaping tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 flax eggs (use whole eggs or egg whites) – Use whatever you like it’s just a binding agent.  Add oil if you want.  I avoid adding oil of any kind.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 ripe mashed bananas
  • 3 apples, shredded (  I used empire)

*Mash the bananas first then remaining ingredients, except for the apple.  Mix with electric mixer

*Fold in the shredded apple

*Roll the dough in balls, place on a cookie sheet, slightly press down

*preheat oven at 350 degrees

*bake for 20 min.

The batch makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen biscuits.  You can make the dough and store it in the refrigerator and make a small amount as needed.  I did that.  I made 6 then a week later finished off the dough and made 24.  

My kids love these.  They think they’re sweet tasting.  Primarily due to the coconut, they do taste sweeter than the muffins made with other types of flour.  The coconut flour and shredded coconut add extra sweetness.  

When baking, I try to use gluten-free flours.  I don’t have a wheat allergy or celiac disease, which are serious conditions.  As I get older, I notice gluten makes me feel bloated.  Therefore, cooking things at home, I choose to make them gluten free when possible.  

Have you experimented with coconut flour?  What are your favorite dishes?  Please share.  Let get the conversation started….


Stabilizing Endurance….

I haven’t been writing lately.  Always busy (like everyone).  Quite frankly, I’ve been a little down since my foot / hamstring injury, because I can’t run.  My biggest fear has been losing endurance.  As a distance runner, maintaining endurance is what it’s all about.  If I can’t make it to 26.2 and beyond… I don’t want to run.  My physical ailments will heal.  I’ll adjust to the custom orthodics (thanks to my extremely flat feet).  I have maintained physical exercise through cycling, swimming, yoga and weight training.  That’s all fine, but in terms of endurance, nothing compares to a good 2-4 hour-long run.  So what have I been doing?  I’m bound and determined to bike for over 2 hours, approximately 30 miles, every time I go out.  There’s a lot more that goes into planning for a long bike ride.  For one, riding makes you very hungry.  You won’t burn as many calories as you would running, but for some reason, you need to fuel while you ride.  I can go out for long runs on an empty stomach, drinking only water and occasionally eating a GU (energy gel) for a little boost of energy.  Cycling, I need substance, real food, maybe even a sports drink.  The hunger only happens on a real ride, never on a stationary bike or during a spin class.  I think it has to do with brain function.  While riding on the roads or trails, you have to constantly be aware of your surroundings.  Traffic behind you, pot holes, roots, branches, pedestrians, etc…. Plus the fact, you’re locked into your bike.  It’s difficult to jump out of the way if needed, like you can when you’re on your feet, running.  While running, you can zone out in certain areas, listen to music, manuever your feet to prevent falling etc….  You just can’t do that cycling.  Therefore, I think your energy is dispersed differently.  The fuel is as much for your brain as it is your belly.  This morning I rode just over 32 miles.  I would have gone further, perhaps 15 more miles, but my stomach was growling and I had to be back for a business appointment.  I had a snack at mile 16, but it just wasn’t enough.  I had a banana and fun size pack of m & m’s, which is 165 calories total.  Got me through 10 miles fine, but my stomach was growling like crazy for the next 6 miles. 

Cycling Snack 165 calories
Cycling Snack 165 calories

I got back just in time for a protein packed lunch and enough time to prep for my appointment.  I made myself an egg white omelette, which is something I eat often, especially after an intense / long work out.  An omelette is a great way to get rid of leftovers, veggies so they won’t go bad, etc…  It’s also a filling meal for approximately 400 – 500 calories.  I use egg whites, because it’s easy and I’m trying to cut down on fat any way possible.  If I had made this on a regular day, not after a 2-3 hour cardio work out, I would eliminate the cheese, ham and toast with butter.  These items add a lot of unwanted calories and fat. 

Today’s Egg White Omelette – 500 calories

  • 1/3 cup of Egg whites
  • 2 thin slices of deli ham chopped
  • tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese
  • salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 slice of french peasant bread toasted with 1 pat of unsalted butter
Today's egg white omelette
Today’s egg white omelette

Have you been injured and can’t participate in your favorite activity?  How do you compensate?  Are you an endurance junkie like me?  How do you make up the lost miles?  Let me know.  I’m an average person who loves running, cycling etc….  I’m always looking for new ideas and approaches….  Let’s get the conversation started….

Getting Back to Basics….

Ok Friends, it happens to all of us!  That unwanted weight gain.  For me it usually ranges from 5 – 10 lbs, depending on the season.  Luckily I’m physically active all year.  But, basically, we are what we eat!  I’m in the middle of marathon training which means I’m burning a lot of calories during my work outs, but it’s important to eat the right kind of foods.  Summer is filled with vacations, travel, etc…  That’s all fun, but what goes along with that is….the curse of “Restaurant Food”!  For me, doesn’t matter how much I exercise, if I start eating anything other than plain salad topped with balsamic vinegar, at a restaurant…I’m going to gain weight.  The unwanted tire around my middle will form… So needless to say, after taking pleasure in some of my favorite restaurant junk foods (Fish Fry, Pizza, Chorizo Burritos, ice cream, etc…) throughout July & August, the tire is back!  Time to get back to basics…. 

I’m not blaming my children, but when they are home during the summer, it’s tough to not cheat here and there in the food department.  Not that my kids eat a lot of junk, but we tend to be in situations where there aren’t a lot of healthy options available.  It’s difficult to tote your own food around all the time.  So, going out for an ice cream cone is more of a common occurence than during the school year.  Long weekend vacations, always mean restaurants for at least 2 meals.   Vacation is vacation.  No food rules apply!  You order what you want.  Portion control, sodium, sugar, oils, cheese, cheese, cheese (did I say cheese) is out the window!  As long as you don’t beat yourself up over it and you remain physically active, you can get back to basics when the kids go back to school and you develop more of a schedule in terms of meals, snacks etc….  One item I make for myself is fast, easy and perfect for dinner or lunch.  Fish (usually salmon, haddock or red snapper) with brown rice, veggies and spices.  

Fish brown rice & veggies

  • Vacuum packed frozen fish fillet
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • Whatever vegetable you like
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Mixed spices
  • Olive oil ( 2 tbsp)

I used my cast iron skillet for baking.  Any kind of baking pan will work fine.  I also used the vacuum packed fish, because it’s portioned, easy to keep on hand, plus, I’m the only one in my family that likes fish.  Therefore, buying fresh fish on a regular basis is unrealistic.  I buy fresh on my birthday & grill it!  

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cover your baking pan with olive oil.
  • Cover your baking pan with cooked brown rice
  • Add vegetables of choice ie; peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, parsley, basil etc…. Basically whatever you have on hand.
  • Thaw your vacuum packed fish under warm water.  Place on top of the rice and veggies.
  • Cover the fish with mixed spices (on both sides)
  • Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes

I’m not a huge fan of the scale, but I do step on it from time to time.  I decided to step on it September 1st.  My pants were feeling a little tight and my energy level wasn’t as high as usual.  I was feeling lethargic during my training runs.  I knew what was happening, so seeing the 10 lb weight gain was a real slap in the face!  But, it was the reality check I most definitely needed to get back to basics.  Thus far I’m down 4 lbs.  6 more to go before my marathon in October.  Marathon pictures are usually horrendous!  The last thing I need is the tire around my middle.  Even if I have an agonizing look on my face, I will share a marathon picture with hopes that the tire will be gone!  

Who else out there always gains weight during the summer?  Vacation?  Simply from bad food choices.  Who gains weight during marathon, triathlon, etc… training?  What’s your food plan?  How do you not deprive yourself from flavor?  Please share.  Let’s get the conversation started….  


Leftovers….Fried Rice….

Homemade Fried Rice
Leftovers…Fried Rice…

Leftovers are different for everyone.  For me, I always have vegetables I want to get rid of and cooked brown rice.  So one meal I throw together often is Fried Rice.  So, my kids love steak.  Over the weekend we grilled steak and chicken.  We had plenty of both left over.  Because, I hate to waste, I constantly am trying to make new meals with whatever is left.  I asked the kids what kind of Fried Rice they wanted; Steak, Chicken or Egg.  They chose steak.  I won’t eat steak as a main meal, but I will in fried rice, because it’s cut up small and cooked very well done.  Almost crispy like beef jerky, which for me is tolerable….  Same goes for chicken.  The smaller the cut, the crispier and dried out it is.  To each their own, right?  If they chose egg, It’s simply a protein addition to the dish.  
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Long Run Pancakes / Waffles….

Pancake / Waffles
Long Run Pancake / Waffles

After a long run, I’m always starving.  I categorize a long run as 13 plus miles.  Generally my long runs are done early Sunday mornings.  One of my favorite things to make are Pancakes / Waffles.  I’ve always made homemade pancakes.  I’ve used a “Good Old Fashioned Pancakes” recipe for years.  The original recipe calls for white flour, white sugar, milk and melted butter.  I’ve eliminated all of those items and made them into my own gluten free, no white sugar and sometimes vegan Pancakes.  They are so good!  There’s really no reason to make them the unhealthy way ever again….
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Ironman….The race of all races

Ironman….The race of all races.  I am proud to have friends that have completed this 140.6 mile triathlon!  My friend Rachael has completed it twice.  Incredible!  I hope and plan on participating and completing an Ironman someday.  But, until then I will take pure pleasure in living vicariously through my Ironman friends.  They are my hero’s.  Ann, Rachael, Aixa and Pablo, Congratulations!  

Ironman Triathlon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon26.2-mile (42.16 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.[1][2][3]

Most Ironman events have a limited time of 17 hours to complete the race. The race typically starts at 7:00 a.m.; the mandatory swim cut off for the 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim is 9:20 a.m. (2 hours 20 minutes), the mandatory bike cut off time is 5:30 p.m. (8 hours 10 minutes), and the mandatory marathon cut off is midnight (6 hours 30 minutes). Any participant who manages to complete the triathlon in these timings is designated an Ironman.


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All in the sauce….

I’ve come up with a new recipe which is a combination of two dishes I’ve made in the past.  A vegan alfredo recipe and a roasted red pepper pesto.  I wanted the richness and creaminess of the alfredo and the smokey intense flavor of the pesto.  What’s interesting is how thick and rich something can taste without adding cream, cheese, butter and/or eggs.  So much flavor without the saturated fat and stomach ache, for that matter.  I don’t have a name for my creation, so I’m just refering to it as “the sauce”….
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Yoga…. Truly beneficial….

I have mentioned in previous posts that I am not a big fan of Yoga.  I force myself to do it at least once a week, because it is so important.  I have tried different types of Yoga classes over the years, but have never stuck with anything.  It’s very difficult for athletes who prefer fast paced, endurance type sports to calm down, hold a stretch, concentrate on breathing etc… Yoga is difficult, physically and mentally.  What I always realize is after I do it, I feel absolutely wonderful!  My mother in law, Terry is a certified Bikram yoga instructor.  She is hands down the best instructor.  Truly dedicated to the development of the student.  Anyhow, I am lucky to have her in my life.  I attended my first Bikram class with Terry close to 12 years ago.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  90 min. of pretzel moves in 100 degree heat.  I wasn’t sure if I’d make it out alive.  For one, every participant is at their own level.  There are no expectations to perfect each pose.  The heat did not bother me at all.  It really does help loosen the muscles.  Having sweat dripping in your eyes while you’re holding a pose actually forces you to concentrate better on your form / posture. If you fall out of a pose and wipe the sweat away, you feel defeated for breaking your concentration.  I remember seeing a man come in to class with a walker.  He was amazing at every pose, even the standing positions.  Unfortunately, he had been in a serious accident and told he would spend the rest of his life confined to a wheel chair. He refused to accept that.  He started doing Bikram yoga and after about a year, he had progressed to being able to stand and use a walker.  That’s just one example of healing progression.  I do believe yoga, like most physical / meditation activity, offers a healing component for the body and mind.  This man had determination.  Like everything, you really have to want something to make it happen.  Nothing is easy and every situation is different.  
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