Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Recipe: Peanut Butter Hemp Balls

Last night I went down to the Ithaca commons for a festive, holiday-themed social run hosted Finger Lakes Running & Triathlon Co. The event had a solid turnout and was comprised of runners in ugly sweaters, a Saucony rep demoing some new shoes, a cookie swap, and a lot of positive feedback about my balls. Wait, what!?

Baking is not exactly my forte. I have neither the patience nor the willpower to follow written instruction to a T, at least not while in the kitchen. I do enjoy cooking, which usually involves throwing a bunch of stuff into a bowl, pot, or pan without measuring anything, but measuring things precisely and managing micro adjustments never had much appeal to me. So rather than bake traditional Christmas treats for the cookie swap or buy some at a store, I decided to make some peanut butter and hemp balls that take only a few minutes and don't require any baking. After the run they seemed to go over well as hungry runners gorged themselves on an array of holiday treats. A lot of people said they loved the PB hemp balls and discussions ensued on the merits of particular ingredients. I promised I'd post some sort of recipe, so here ya go.

My friend Adam introduced me to this snack during a day long hike in the Catskill High Peaks. The combination of fat and carbs will provide energy for a longer, slow-paced endurance event like a hike, and the raw hemp protein is easily digestible to help with muscle recovery. Plus they make a delicious and relatively healthy holiday season snack. This recipe takes about five minutes to make and yields 12-15 balls. And for the record, the edible hemp seeds have nothing to do with cannabis or inebriation.


To make the peanut butter hemp balls:

- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 2/3 cup hemp powder
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 3 Tbsp agave nectar
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Stir the agave nectar, peanut butter and sea salt together in a bowl until well blended. 

Add in the hemp powder and stir until mixed thoroughly. If the mixture is too dry, just add a bit of water. If it's too wet add some additional hemp powder. 

Using your hands, roll the paste into 1 inch balls. Place the balls on wax paper and cover in a container. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

Optional: You can roll the balls in shredded coconut (or some other additive like chia seeds) before refrigerating. 

Additionally, you can substitute any of the ingredients for similar ones. For example, almond butter or any other nut or seed butter instead of peanut butter, honey or maple syrup in place of the agave nectar, or pea protein powder in place of the hemp powder.

From the Saucony Everun, Ugly Sweater, and Cookie Swap Group Run (SEUSCSGR).

Some Notes on Hemp Powder *

Hemp powder is simply raw hemp seeds ground down into flour. The calories from hemp seeds, and thus, hemp powder, are about 35% protein. Hemp protein is one of the few complete proteins derived naturally from plants, meaning that the powder contains all 10 essential amino acids. Being a raw food, the protein from hemp flour is easily digestible. Hemp powder can be found at most natural food stores, such as the bulk section at GreenStar Natural Foods Market in Ithaca. 

Hemp protein is also alkaline forming, which helps the body maintain an optimal pH level, thus reducing stress on the body and assisting in athletic recovery. 

* Brazier, B. (2007). Thrive: The Vegan Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. Penguin Group.

Monday, December 7, 2015

'Twas The Night Before Gingermas

'Twas the night before Gingermas, and out on the trail
The finish line awaited with local craft ale.
The RD was sleepless, in the crisp autumn air
In hopes the lead pack soon would be there.
The midpackers were scattered all along the course,
While the elites sped along as quick as a horse.

And my pacer with his Suunto, and I with my Garmin,
Were hours behind coach Ian Sharman.
Long ago I had bonked, and my face lost its smile;
Barely half done with the one hundred miles.

Food rations were low - just a handful of pretzels -
As the light slowly faded from the bulb in my Petzl.
I felt so light headed, I had nothing left,
And was ready to drop - my first DNF.
We wandered forever and could not find the path.
I'd never make the cutoff - just do the math!

I sat silently on a stump because all hope was lost.
I just wanted to quit, never mind the cost,
When in the woods behind me there arose a loud rustle,
I sprang to my feet and prepared for a tussle.

The moon on the breast of the fresh-fallen leaves
Gave a luster of midday to the ground 'tween the trees.
When what to my much addled mind should appear,
But a red headed runner with a case full of beer!
His wore a "GRL" cap, and his legs were so limber,
I knew in a moment it must be The Ginger.

"I'm hallucinating," I thought. "I must need more rest."
When in ran his posse of co-hosts and guests.
Swifter than gazelles his friends they all came,
He clapped and he shouted, and introduced them by name:

"It's Yassine, Gary Robbins, and Sally McRae!
And here's Vargo, and Varner, The Gearist, and Sage!"
Last but not least in came Mile Long Legs,
(Sipping local craft brew, not that crap from a keg.)
"We found a new crew," my pacer said with a chuckle,
And right then I knew I'd earn a silver belt buckle.

Then out into the clearing that ginger he ran,
Trotted right up beside me and stuck out his hand.
"What is up everybody? The Ginger Runner here.
But we're not airing this live, so nobody fear."

On his feet he wore Altras - heel-toe drop was zero,
And wielded in one hand a black Go Pro Hero.
A drop bag of supplies he had flung on his back
And looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

"Take these," he told me. "Calories you can use."
And offered a bag full of S-Caps and GUs.
"Here's your own GRL buff" the ginger said with a grin,
As he took a long swig from his flask of Tailwind.
His friends shared with us their brew - some dark IPA,
While the bulbs from their headlamps turned night into day. 

Now I've oft heard it said a ginger has no soul,
But I knew at once that was folklore of old.
Bright and multi-hued was the cap on his head,
While the beard on his chin was like a flame blazing red.
He wore a dark long-sleeved shirt - sweat wicking, not flannel -
Its breast bore the logo for his own Youtube channel.
His hydration vest from Ultimate Direction
Had grey and red shades that brought out his complexion.

He gave us fresh AA batteries from out of his pocket,
Then led us on course and told us "Go rock it!"
His demeanor reminded me to not be a quitter,
So I promised I'd follow on Facebook and Twitter.
I got one last gift - my own Tailwind bottle!
Now I felt I could sprint to the finish full throttle!

He zipped up his pack, and to his team gave a yelp,
Then I thanked him profusely for all of his help.
Gingerclaus started running off into the night,
But I heard him exclaim ere he ran out of sight -
"Now get on with your race, I'll see you next year;
Merry Gingermas to all, and don't forget... train, race, beer!"


I am sometimes asked what I think about while out for several hours on a long run. Well here's your answer! This poem more or less wrote itself in my head during a series of training runs for Virgil Crest this past summer. Hopefully fans of Ginger Runner Live will find this entertaining. For the rest of you, check out the show, streamed live on Youtube every Monday night. 

Enjoy watching Gary Robbins read "Twas The Night Before Gingermas" to his baby boy in the opening to Gingermas Live 2015. (The video is long but his reading is right at the beginning.) Merry Gingermas to all and to all a good night!