2013- My Life Make Over and The ING Miami Marathon

Wow, where do I begin? Hello 2015! You are a sad reminder about my forgotten 2014 resolution- Blogging! Well I have a lot of catching up to do!
2013 was an amazing year! Not only for racing and PRing, but also personally! Looking back it makes me very emotional! I left 2012 off with the Harrisburg Marathon and local NYRR races. Now it was time to start prepping for Miami! I was really looking forward to Miami. Not only bc I hadn’t been on a vacation in forever, but I was getting the opportunity to run alongside my girl Gianna as she ran her first marathon! I was already up to speed with my training because of everything I put into the NYC Marathon/Harrisburg Marathon so it was nice to just go into the race feeling already prepared!
Being my second marathon, the nerves were more at ease and made for a more fun experience. And what better timing, who had time for all that training when, you are moving into your new apartment! Ever since I could remember, West New York always held a special place in my heart. I used to go to BLVD East just to sit and admire the spectacular view of NYC. On the evening I got my drivers license, I drove to WNY, parked and waited for the Empire State Building’s lights to turn off at midnight. Sipping a Caramel Mocciatto of course! From that moment on, I would vow every time I looked at the Skyline, that I would one day live here. January 2013, that wish came true. So here I am, starting off the new year with a truly clean slate. Goodbye toxicity and hello zen! Cheers to officially living the dream!

That View

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I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was walking down 65th street towards that skyline (and the sunrise) everyday to catch the 156/9 bus for work. It was even more fun running along the BLVD for training and watching the moon move across the city.
Anyway, fast forward a little to the last weekend of January. It was Gianna’s Birthday and we are heading to South Beach Miami to stay with her sister Karly and run the ING Miami Marathon. Life is Good! The weekend turned out to be the perfect getaway, cocktails, sunshine, delicious treats and running thru one of the most fun cities in America.

Here are some of the memories pictured below.

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The Miami Marathon definitely did not disappoint. The start was just a giant club outside the American Airlines Arena, the course was beautiful and the fans handed out everything from iced coffee to beer! It was especially fun running thru South Beach. Everyone was still partying from the night before. I really enjoyed it. I still try to pin point what made it so fun. The crowd, the sun, the scenery, my gal pals… it was just pure joy! I cannot wait to get down there and do it again!
True to form, Gianna and I planned out our race calendar for the year that night. It included- the NJ Marathon, more then a few half marathons and we even toyed with the idea of an ultrathon! I just love us!

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Sandy You B!tch

So here we are, and Sandy has hit land.

I never lost power where I was, so I was able to keep all mobile and computer devices charged and also stay tuned to the news. I feel like I can recite everything that happened every second of that day.

Now before you all jump down my throat for how i am about to start this blog – please read THE WHOLE blog…

It really seemed like it wasn’t that bad. I saw that AC was flooding and that the Hudson was rising, but I swear, I almost expected it. I am by no means saying that this flooding wasn’t bad but as portrayed by the news casters EARLIER that day… as fast as the water came in, it went back out. and because of this, I didn’t think that evenings high tide would be much different. As the storm was coming thru north jersey, I actually kind of laughed. (AGAIN KEEP READING) There wasn’t that much rain, I didn’t hear the wind and got a few chuckles out of the the status updates on Facebook. ‘Sandy- You are a waste…’ was one… another read- ‘Great, Guess I have work tomorrow! should have dropped off my dry cleaning….’ Of course, I was pleased by this bc the only thing on my mind was the marathon.

It wasn’t until late afternoon/evening, that the storm started to worry me. I saw numerous posts about losing power, i watched as news reporters were getting pushed away from the shore lines and saw Lower NYC and the East side get slammed with rising water. It only got worse.

Having electricity was like a double edged sword. I was able to be in the know and see what was going on.. but my friends phones and computers were dying bc they hadn’t had power. Did they know what was happening? or What may be happening to their relatives? At this point, Breezy Point was in flames, Hospitals were left to run on power generators, People were trapped in their apt buildings, the jersey shore was under water, status updates from Staten Island were distressful and to top it off, I hadn’t heard from relatives who were located on the island. I went onto the Staten Island Advance website only to see the distress recordings displayed… One was from a family member, Ocean front property, in Cedar Grove Beach calling for a rescue. I reached out to an FDNY friend who told me the beach areas were hit with at least 18ft of water. I grew up in the beach area and all I could think about were my cousins, floating on a rescue boat, in complete blackness.

It’s more terrifying actually- knowing what I know now… Imagine, you’re BEACH FRONT- No Power- you’re trapped on your second floor looking down at waves crashing midway between the 2 floors. and if you look out the window you see nothing. there’s no visible light ANYWHERE- and all you hear is water. No sirens- Nothing…

I also thought about my grandfather. A friend from the same neighborhood posted to Facebook a picture of his street (which was around the block from my grandpa) The cars were underwater… completely.

Now picture this – looking out the window and you cannot see the tops of cars. Now look to the left, towards the end of the block- which faces the ocean side. There are no houses in site beyond the block, just an 8-10ft drop. All you can see are the tops of trees and tall beach weeds. This area stretches about a mile and half to the beach…  However, there are actually homes that grid this low area. Many of them single floor bungalow style. So now, If water covered up the cars by my grandfather, those bungalows were gone. and unlike many of the NJ bungalows- these were occupied all year long. I still to this day do not believe the death toll that was listed.

Back on the SI Advance website, there were also distress calls from the other shore of the island where my Godfather lives. Rising water was washing away homes… It all seemed like a disaster movie.

Hoboken was also falling victim to the flooding. My families business on Adams was completely flooded. And the apartment I was moving into (finally I was going to leave my ‘situation’)- which was located around the block from my uncles deli was completely gone- garden level, never stood a chance. (ugh dagger)

Daybreak

I kept in communication with a few friends and family and for those I couldn’t reach, I got confirmation from others that thankfully everyone was safe. However, although I had survived the storm with electricity and no flooding, that wasn’t the case for the majority of the tri-state. everything was shut down. no work, no school, no gas?! yup- no gas! NJ had instated the even/odd plate number gas cue and there were still,  lines that lasted forever.

Pretty shitty huh?!

Now I am just going to be very real and tell you that even though all this happened- I only cared about the marathon. (yes I was one of those assholes who was against the marathon being canceled- but that didnt’t last long- so please keep reading.)   I think now in retrospect, it was because i was very fortunate to still have a place to stay and also I physically didn’t see any disaster around me so I didn’t get it. I feel like a JERK even writing that but it’s the truth… I saw the news and I read some things on social media but, at the moment, i really did not get it. I even still went to physical therapy for my foot bc I needed to be in tip top shape to run the my first marathon. I even logged some miles that week. (See, I was such an Asshole!) Even knowing everything I had, I was so wrapped up in this marathon. What can I say- It distracted me from my miserable life for months. It had taken my mind off of my relationship. gave me routine. gave me confidence. In those months of training, I was kicking ass at my job, my health was great, not to mention, I was in the best shape of my life. I was calmer. Happier. Stronger. Mentally tough- I had finally found the strength to move out into my own place! (so much for that!) Anyway- I guess you can say, the marathon was my security blanket. Everything good in my life at that moment, I honestly believed stemmed from that damn race.  So as sad as this sounds- I had a MELTDOWN when it was canceled. I mean, a RAMPAGE. Even knowing all I had and  personally been effected by Sandy’s destruction, it felt like my world ended. Pretty self centered huh?! It feels so absurd to even write that but it’s the truth. I am so ashamed to even admit it but i was literally on every media outlet I could be on, ranting and raving about why we should have a marathon. I even made it to the Nissan health and fitness expo to get my bib number before they announced the cancellation. If i could make it to NYC- why couldn’t anyone else? The fact that I felt that way, still makes me sick.

Anyway…

That Saturday after the announcement, I got really depressed. All these comments on how selfish the runners were. I never believed we were. I mean- all the money raised for charity, people missing limbs or battling cancer, running in honor of loved ones, for world peace… every reason seemed everything but selfish!But I  realized that actually going thru with the marathon was everything selfish. The man power needed to operate the race, the water, the food, the warm blankets at the end… I thought about that all day and it was quite humbling. Who the heck are we (am i) to think this race was OK?

So here we are marathon Sunday. My girlfriend Karen calls me. She has a full tank of gas, knows about my family in Staten Island and is like- lets go and help. So she picks me up at my ex’s place and we head on in. I wore my marathon gear and number proudly. And even though I couldn’t run my miles for charity- this was more special. And I can’t tell you how much it means to me that Karen did this!

We turn down New Dorp Lane and are forced to park about a mile away from the ocean front. (Cedar Grove Beach) This is when I finally understood in my heart why the Marathon was canceled. You cannot understand disaster until you see FEMA tents, muddy streets, and people you recognize taking hand-outs of bleach and extra large sweats. Cars on peoples front steps. the insides completely full of mud. waterlines completely visible on all the homes. As we walked closer to the beach front, the waterlines got higher and the damage and debris a lot worse. Some homes were completely leveled. More and more homes were labeled with the red tape- deeming it unsafe. And the homes with yellow tape had look liked they were torn inside out literally… every thing in the basement and first floors were out side.

First stop was a relative’s home- she was lucky enough to have a slew of volunteers helping her and the family out, so Karen and I made our way down the block and were in and out of homes pulling up carpeting, sledge hammering water logged counters and dragging out appliances. We teamed up with neighborhood kids who knew there way around better.

Here are some photos-

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Even though they waited way too long to actually go thru with the cancellation, it was great to see many of the runners let go of the bitterness (if they had any) and come help with the clean up. I was really proud that day… proud to be a runner, proud of the island I grew up on and proud to see the love and generosity from everyone.  If you ask me now if the cancellation was a good choice- my answer- ABSOLUTELY!

But that doesn’t mean I still didn’t have the marathon bug…

After 2 weeks of this crazy emotion roller coaster and realizing I was not getting out of my current situation any faster now- I needed to run.  Steph told me about a marathon in Harrisburg…

DONE- I wasted no time in signing up! And I was finally able to run my first marathon!

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I completed my first marathon in 4:33… and it felt amazing! A lot of non-runner people told me that once I ran my first ‘thon, that I would be over it- but my runner buds had said otherwise- and mannnnn were they right! I finished out the year with a few more races.

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My pal Gianna and I closed out the year on fire- and I was so happy that she finally caught the marathon bug! I mean- she did all the other training with me, let’s make it official- her and I were going to be Miami Famous- Jan 2013 we were to run the ING Miami Marathon!

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

TFK & The New York Road Runners

Sorry it has been a while… I have so much to share. The main purpose of this blog is to share my running experience as a newbie, running thru pregnancy and the bounce back. So in order to catch up to date, the following blog may seem a little rushed. I am trying to close up 2012 quickly so I can share 2013’s experiences.  PRs, Ultrathons, Half Irons and running pregnant! Patience…

Last time I checked in, I had completed my very first half marathon and was ready to take on the world… otherwise known as 26.2. The NYC Marathon was my new obsession! I had the determination, I just needed help getting there. Cue Stephanie.

Steph and I have been friends since the first grade which pretty much makes her my sister, so I really trusted her wisdom when it came to almost anything. She is also a NYC Marathon Veteran which was the added bonus!

First things first- Get In! Well now how on earth am I going to run a race I cannot qualify for?

There are 3 ways to get entry to the NYCM. 1: Qualify (yea OK! next) 2: 9+1 (9 NYRR Races and 1 Volunteer) or 3: Charity.

The rule for 2012 with 9+1 entry was that the 9+1 needed to be fulfilled during 2011. Considering it was July 2012, for me, charity was it.

Team for Kids

These neon green, singlet wearing, running enthusiasts were all about the kids. Keeping them off the streets, keeping up with their nutrition and give these inner city kids something to look up to. Who doesn’t love that! I signed up right away! I pledged the minimum amount of $2620- You are responsible to pay the remainder of the funds not raised by October 5th.  I personally was not in the financial position to be responsible for much more then $1500.  Which meant my butt had to get to fundraising just as much as it needed to seriously hit the pavement.

So as a new member of the NYRR and TFK, I did what any newbie runner would do, sign up for ALL the races and email my ENTIRE address book for donations!

Not knowing at the time,  the ins and outs of the 9 +1 rule, I assumed if i completed 9 races before 2013, I’d have entry to the ING Marathon 2013… however, because I wasn’t a member since January 2012, it didn’t work out that way.. but I didn’t actually understand this until December of 2012. So as for marathon 2013 entry it got me no where but in retrospect, all these races improved my pace and built my confidence as a runner.

Anyway…

My race calendar didn’t start until August, and because of my work schedule, I couldn’t take advantage of the best TFK perk- their group training sessions, so I had to follow the week/mile plan on my own thru the summer. Tuesday and Thursday I still trained with Nike run club and Friday, I would do a quick 3 mile loop of my town. Saturdays I would set out for a ‘long’ run.

The photos below are from the 2012 Races I completed just before the NYC Marathon

 

Photo: NFL Back to Football Run. Me, Pete, Iva (childhood pal too!)

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Suds and Sun 5k- Me and Meli

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NYRR 5th Avenue Mile- I am in the nude shirt… actual mile was 7:24, not bad for a newbie!

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NYRR 5 Borough Series, Bronx 10M: Gianna, Me and Steph

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ING Marathon Tune-Up 18M- Longest run ever!

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NYC Runs Narrows Half: Gianna & Me- First Half Under 2H… 1:58

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NYRR 5 Borough Series, Staten Island Half- PR 1:57

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Grete’s Great Gallop- Worst Half Ever- Day of my 22M

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Don’t forget to volunteer! My +1

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You would think training for a marathon would keep me busy enough, but no, I thru 2  more  Tough Mudders into the mix to switch it up a bit. The team and I headed to Vermont, Mount Snow to be exact, in July and Monmouth NJ, that October for my DIRTY 30! I love muddy adventures! We squeezed in a Color Run Brooklyn too!

Photo(s) Below- TM Vermont July 2012

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Photo(s) Below- Color Run Brooklyn August 2012

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Photo Below- TM NJ My Dirty 30

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OK back to Marathon mode…

Week after week I followed my plan… but it got a little boring. Time to find new recruits… Stephanie already had entry, but she was very fast so I couldn’t train too much with her. Cue Emilie! Yes, based on my powers of persuasion, Emilie was now a member of the TFK too!

We trained all summer! and come August it hit us- we have 2 months to raise all this cash! So we did what any girl in the city would do- throw a happy hour! We  turned to good’ol facebook and created an event- The Run Of Our Lives. We raised about $1000 dollars that night and we $500 closer to our goal then we were just a few hours prior.

 

Run of Our Lives Happy Hour

Me & Emillie- Tickets for the Raffles anyone?!

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Me & Stephanie- Largest Dirty Martini Ever!!!!

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Us again!!

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So here we are, still reaching out to our entire address book, outlooking the whole office and now it’s the end of August and all these races I signed up for are approaching. Just got to keep on truckin!

Run All the Races and Raise All the Funds! lol As shown earlier- a photo from each race prior to the thon!

And that is just what we did! Come October 5th, we had raised our goals, earned out neon green singlets and reached some pretty amazing running milestones.

I have to shout out my friend Gianna here. She was (and still is) a member of NYRR and ran most of these races with me. I have to thank a lot of my speed progression to her. She ran ALL the miles with me, including my first ever 22 miler. Which, I may add- she wasn’t even marathon training! Girl is die hard! Love her to bits!

Fast Forward to October 28 2012- The Poland Spring ING Marathon Kick Off. The NYRR race that opened up Marathon week in NYC. It was also the weekend the tri-state area got confirmation Hurricane Sandy was indefinitely going to make landfall. Fingers were crossed that we would have a similar experience to that of Hurricane Irene the year prior.

Poland Spring Marathon Kick Off- Game Face

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As I explained earlier, I hadn’t trained with TFK, so it was great to finally meet the group that day. Our team members consisted of newbies, elite, local, and international runners. I will never forget that day. The crowds, the smiling faces, the marathon jitters and the swirling of the fall leaves. The temperature was in the 50s, no humidity but the wind whistled. It was kind of spooky but great to run in. After the race I bit farewell to the team and was looking forward to reuniting with them next week for the big day.

TFK- Class of 2012

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That night I headed to Staten Island to my aunts house. She was throwing a little Halloween cocktail party. Of course, me, being the lover of all souls day, was the only one who dressed up. It was a great night. lots of laughter and lots of wine. Then I went home and waited for this storm to hit land. The next day was long and oddly calm. Some strong winds and just rainy. Seemed like Sandy was going to be just like hurricane Irene after all.

Night before the storm… Cedar Grove Beach Staten Island

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So i thought.

The Middle

Good morning! We have another snow day here today. I have to be honest I LOVE THE SNOW. I mean, if it’s going to be cold, then it may as well snow. Not to mention it’s winter.

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Photo(s): Winter Near Our Condo

Anyway…

In the last installment of my ‘RUNography’, I had taken the plunge and signed up for my first half marathon. The moment I submitted my credit card information, I felt a rush of excitement, followed by a sinking fear in my tummy.For the rest of that day, I kept telling  myself, OK Tara, pull yourself together. You HAVE to do this now. No turning back! Besides, I had made it Facebook official already, and didn’t want to back out and give the haters something to talk about 😉 Now that i think about it, I play the FB game a lot. Once its FB official- no turning back! haha!

I had 6 weeks to go from loving burpees to loving 10miles Saturdays.

Ouch, I hurt!

I continued to go to run club with Mark and recruited Emilie to join. Run club helped a lot. Since I never wanted to go home & had the convenience of my office in midtown, being so regimented was easy. But this also led to over training, I thought.

The dreaded shins! Yup. In pain AGAIN. I would start every run rubbing icy/hot on my shins and stopping every minute during mile 1 to rub them out. This really got me down. How on earth am I going to get thru this?  I reached out to 2 of my pals who I knew were avid runners. Gianna and Stephanie. Gianna advised to keep up the weight training and cut back on the pavement a little to avoid further injury. Stephanie said the same but also offered to train with me and help me with my form. It could possibly be i run like a girl 😉

That Saturday I headed to Staten Island for my 10 miler. Stephanie was convinced it was my form. However, once we got to running, she mentioned it may be my sneakers. WHAT?! But I LOVE my Nike FreeRuns! They’re bright pink! Never will I give up on them so I compromised… I promised to stretch, ice, and wear compression socks. YES!! These come in neon too! SWEET!

Insert new SOCK obsession.

A few hours later- I was proud to say I finished my 10 miles. It was brutal, but Stephanie convinced me that if I can run 10, then I can do 3 more.

I’d find out in 2 weeks. Fingers crossed!

Fast Forward- June 15 2012. Emilie and I are on our way to Phila to meet with JoAnna. I have to tell you, this was such a fun trip. Emilie, is just so sweet and so funny! All we do is laugh when we are together. And it was great to meet up with Jo, I hadn’t seen her since high school. When we checked into our hotel, we did as girls usually do. We played fashion show with our running attire for the half marathon. We boy bashed. And we traded funny stories about ourselves. We also couldn’t get over the phallic picture located just above our toilet bowl. Perfect location. Sigmund Freud would be proud.

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Photo: UMMMMM…. Four Points Sheraton Bathroom

One of my favorite things about running, besides the bright outfit choices, is fueling. We weren’t in the center city of Phila so food wasn’t very easy to find. We ventured to a mini mall next to our hotel and opted for Mexican. I KNOW! Who does that? But I can freakishly run after margaritas and black beans, Don’t ask.

After a few laughs and a cocktail or two, we headed back to our room, joked about the phallic bathroom decor and went to sleep.

The next morning we had our trail mix and headed to Overpeck Park via school bus shuttle. Classy!

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Photo: JoAnna, Myself, Emilie on the bus!

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Photo: Emilie and Myself and some serious stretches!

The one thing I remember is, stretching and praying not to have a shin flare up.  REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT…

Gun time.

 

I don’t know if it was my adrenaline or the icy/hot but once I started running, it was on!

Now, if you look up Half Saur Half Kraut, it will pull up a great running organization. Uberendurance Sports! No frills, no crazy prizes… just running, friends, and beer! Yes, a German themed run club. Amazeballs!

These runners were awesome, most dressed up like yodelers and beer maids! I started to play running games with myself. I would pick out a costume and try to pass them. Before I knew it, I was at the 7 mile turn around! Poetic as it sounds, my iPod played ‘chasing the sun’ by the Wanted, conveniently at that time. Best feeling ever!  I felt like I was flying. It wasn’t long until I crossed the finish line around 2:10.

I got a pretty sweet medal, a potato pancake and a beer! Now That’s some serious swag! 🙂

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Photo(s): There I am, finishing my first Half Marathon! note the look of relief! lol

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Photo: Sporting the Medal and my Neon Free Runs! lol

Emilie and JoAnna finished shortly after. Victory was ours!

Of course I loved every ounce of the bragging rights! I called Stephanie and Gianna right away and posted every pic I possibly could on social media!

Stephanie really pushed me with this race. When I say I can’t or that I am tired, she definitely gives me that boost of confidence I need! That being said she is also the reason I have become such a Mother Runner 😉

After her countless congratulations and ‘I told you so’s, she said the magic phrase-

So when are you running the marathon?

and so my journey continues…

Overnight Oats and Quinoa

Hi all!

I will get back to my ‘RUNography’ soon, I promise. But while I have a baby free minute I wanted to share some overnight oat recipes that you all have requested on my Facebook Fan page.

Have fun!

The thing to remember with ONO is ANYTHING GOES!

All recipes start with

*Mason Jar

*1cup of rolled oats 

Alternative- Quinoa

*1 cup of liquid. I personally like unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It tastes very plain, but I am trying to cut sugar while breastfeeding. but any liquid will do.

TIP- Use fat- free milk for creamier sweeter oats. Also, Sweetened Chocolate Almond Milk makes chocolate recipes even better!

*Next, I like to add a protein. (just a tablespoon to create a layer in your mason jar) Greek Yogurt is great for this. I am a fan of Chobani fat free Vanilla. But again, this is all about personal preference. So pick which ever you like.

Here is where it gets fun

*add a layer any filing of your choice.  I usually like to add fruit.

TIP-Frozen or fresh will work but be mindful of fruits that brown or get mushy; such as a banana. I find that if you un-peel and slice up a banana, then place the pieces in a freezer bag and freeze, the banana will keep.

Also, frozen fruit works great, but only if you are going to eat it the next day. If you do not, then the mixture will get watery. If you are meal prepping for the week, fresh works best!

*Add another layer of protein.

TIP- Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder to your yogurt if you are craving something chocolaty!

Alternative Protein- Kind Brand gluten free mix tastes great, has protein and adds a yummy crunch!

If you like the parfait with yogurt, sprinkle Kind Mix or any granola mix for that matter, for a yummy topping. but do this the morning you are going to enjoy this meal,. if you leave a topping on over night, it will mush.

Don’t Forget- Flax and chia add the fnishing touch!

 

OK so now that you have the basics… following the layering technique above, try out new recipes with the ingredient lists below!

Cocoa Banana

  • 1 cup rolled oats or quinoa
  • 1 cup liquid
  • 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried chia seeds for topping
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon agave, optional (or substitute any preferred sweetener)
  •  diced frozen ripe banana,  enough to fill jar

Peanut Butter Banana

  • 1 cup rolled oats or quinoa
  • 1 cup liquid
  • 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Kind Gluten Free Nut mix
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (substitute PB2 powdered peanut butte if you’re cutting weight)
  • 1 teaspoon agave, optional (or substitute any preferred sweetener)
  • diced frozen ripe banana, enough to fill jar

 

Lemon Blueberry

  • 1 cup  rolled oats
  • 1 cup liquid
  • 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 tablespoon lemon juice (add mix with blueberries)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (add with oat/liquid mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon agave, optional (or substitute any preferred sweetener add to berries)
  • Add a little lemon zest every other layer for extra kick!

Keep in the fridge over night and when you wake the next morning…  YUMMMM

Enjoy!

 

Remember- These are your own creations. the more you add, the more fuel you are giving your body. So be mindful of sugar and carbs  if you are trying to eat clean.

Please share your creations! I’d love to try them!