Thursday, May 22, 2014

Off-topic with Tammy!

It's May 22nd, and in our family, that means we are fast-approaching the final meets of our track seasons. All of my boys are distance runners on their respective school teams, so we live, breathe and EAT to prepare for the 1600m run, the 800m run, and the 4x800m relay between January and May. This week brings us to the culmination of all of the training and preparation - the Illinois State Track Meet for my 8th grade son and the Sectional Meet for my high school boys. It's make-or-break time; the final meets of the season, where everyone is hoping to run a new PR (personal record) or break a school record or finish the season in a blaze of glory! 

As mom of the athletes, I have two jobs. First, I am their most enthusiastic cheerleader. I attend their races, I know their best race times, I keep track of their lap splits, and I celebrate their victories and lament their defeats right alongside them. All of that is my easy job. I love it. My second job is more challenging - feeding them when they're in training and competing. This is more hit-and-miss, although I have learned a few things over the years. First of all, I almost always feed them pasta the night before a big race (mostly because they all have it in their head that they NEED to eat pasta to perform at their best). I decided years ago that it was just easier to feed them pasta than it was to see the look of disappointment on their face if we have anything other than pasta before a big meet. Second, I pack them a big bag of extra snacks to take to their meets. I "try" to focus on healthier things to eat, like nuts and fruits and healthier grains, but I have to balance that out with things that they will actually eat and things that will travel well and keep without having to be refrigerated. Track meets are long events and don't always move along quickly, so it is better to have a variety of carbs and protein choices so that they can plan what they want to eat and when they want to eat it based on what race they are running and how quickly the meet is moving along. Staving off hunger is key, but they can't eat too much or the wrong thing too close to a race, or they will get sick. Tricky business...

I found a homemade granola recipe several years ago that I like to make this time of year to send in their track bags. It is sweetened with honey instead of sugar and has dried fruit and/or nuts in it. I usually add a few chocolate chips in there as well because chocolate chips just make people HAPPY! The boys can munch on the granola between races, and we all LOVE to eat it in a bowl with milk in the morning. It's healthier and more filling than a cookie, and if you add some good nuts, like almonds, you'll have the addition of protein as well. Everyone in our family (including spectators) will be enjoying this delicious snack at our track meets this weekend. Oh, and it is WAY CHEAPER and tastes WAY MORE DELICIOUS than store-bought granola, so it's a win-win all the way around!

2 cups whole wheat flour
6 cups rolled oats (I generally use quick or old-fashioned oats)
1 cup coconut
1cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
1/2 cup water
1 cup oil
1cup honey
2 t. Vanilla
2 t. Salt
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dried cherries, or whatever you prefer)
1/2 cup - 1 cup nuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in another bowl, except dried fruit, which will be added after cooking. Combine the contents of both bowls and mix thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly on two spray-treated or greased large, rimmed cookie sheets. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring twice during baking. Stir in dried fruit. Cool. Store in airtight containers.

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