Author Archives: meganconner2014

Oatmeal Banana Bread

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Okay people.  I can’t ever make this bread again because it’s SO good that I literally ate almost all of it.  Sorry I’m not sorry.  It’s light and dense and healthy and amazing and sweet and wonderful.  There aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary.  So, bottom line – you should make this and then eat it.  Maybe you should share a couple of pieces if you can.  Or not.  Totally up to you.  Let me know how you like it!!  I adapted it from the Food.com’s not so healthy version and just turned it into paleo banana bread!  Enjoy!

Ingredients 

  • 1 1⁄2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 mashed really ripe bananas (the riper the better!)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 (or more!) cups chocolate chips

 

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.  Spray a bread pan well with coconut oil spray.
  2. Honesty – there was no rhyme or reason to how I put these ingredients in the food processor…  I added them all in except the chocolate chips and mixed!!
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips and pour into the bread pan!
  4. Bake at 350 for 40 min or until you can stick a fork through and it comes out clean.

 

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Farmer’s Market Finds – Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken with Balsamic Blueberry Basil Dressing

I love summer!!  And I love Tuesdays during the summer!!  My favorite part about Tuesdays is the 12 South Farmers Market !! Every Tuesday from May until November, I mosey on over to Sevier Park around 3:30 with one of my friends and her daughter, and we shop the market for fresh finds.  I LOVE going over there – from flowers to spices to farm eggs – it’s all there.

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When I really started attending the farmer’s market and using different and FRESH ingredients – I found that the difference between FRESH food and store bought is unreal.  It’s easy to say that, but until you taste a fresh egg and see that bright yellow yolk in comparison to a store bought egg…well, just go do that and get back t me.  :).

One thing that I challenge everyone to do is to go to your local farmer’s market and try to make a dish entirely or almost entirely from ingredients bought at the market.  It won’t disappoint!  You have to do very little to good food to make it taste great.

Here is a simple summer salad that I whipped up with almost every ingredient from the farmers market!! This is cranberry maple crusted chicken over fresh greens with a balsamic blueberry basil vinaigrette. (Say that 5 times really fast!) I topped it with avocado, roasted cashews, salt and pepper, and a little more basil!

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For the chicken (from Triple L Ranch) I used the cranberry maple spice rub from Galena Garlic Company and baked at 350 for 30-40 min or until done. You can throw the cashews on another baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes or so and have them ready to garnish.  For the dressing – I used 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of #galenagarlic balsamic vinegar, a handful of blueberries from Kelley’s Berry Farm, 1/8 cup of fresh basil from Delvin Farms and salt and pepper. Food process this until smooth. The lettuce is from Bountiful Blessings Farm and the beautiful flowers are from Local Blossoms!!

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So there you have it, a simple summer lunch or dinner that will make you sit on the edge of your seat until the next Tuesday comes around and you can go back to the market!  I dare you to go to your local farmer’s market and make an entire meal from what you find.  Let me know how it turns out!

Inspotats – #ForJimmy

I created Inspotats to help inspire people…  to help them remember their WHY…  to help them wear their inspiration on their sleeves… to help them stay motivated doing whatever they are doing.  I want people to look down at their arm or wrist and physically SEE that reminder to KEEP GOING.  That was my vision, that has been my goal.  The stories that have started coming in are incredible, and I wanted to share this one in particular.  

A month or so ago I got an email from Becky who shared her story, and her brother’s story with me and how they wanted to use Inspotats to help honor him.  I’m going to let Becky tell you in her words about her brother Jimmy, about his life, his sacrifice, and her dedication run…

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Earlier this year, we honored our brother, son, friend, teammate Army Staff Sergeant James Moriarty, better known as “Jimmy,” by running Ragnar Luckenbach. This past November, Jimmy, alongside Sergeant First Class Matthew Lewellen and Staff Sergeant Kevin McEnroe, was tragically killed while on active duty in Jordan.

Last year, Jimmy recruited half a Ragnar team, all connected through him in a unique way: a friend from childhood, one from high school, one from college, another from the Army, and one from his family. With Jimmy as the anchor, the entire team meshed seamlessly, despite not knowing each other before. At his memorial service, the team vowed to run Ragnar again #forJimmy. We pulled together a full team of 12 runners and 2 van drivers in record time. Friends and family were more than eager to participate.

 As we relayed our way through 200 miles of the Texas Hill Country, Jimmy continued to be our anchor and inspiration. Despite lost runners, major blisters, sore legs and little sleep, we managed to power through and placed 2nd in the co-ed division and 6th overall! Thanks to Inspotats for the inspiring tattoos, a gentle reminder to us and those around us of what we were running for.

​Born and raised in Houston, Jimmy attended the University of Texas where he majored in economics and was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2011, where he successfully made it through Qualification Course to become a Green Beret and member of the elite 5th Special Forces Group, based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. An avid runner and Ragnar alum, proud Longhorn and even prouder Army soldier, he is survived by his sisters Rebecca Moriarty and Melissa Moriarty, and his parents, Cindy Moriarty and James R. Moriarty.

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Becky – God bless you and your family.  May Jimmy’s memory continue to live on and inspire many out there.   I am so sorry for your loss, and with deepest sympathy – I thank you, Jimmy, along with many others – for giving the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  

To learn more about Inspotats or order your custom inspirational tats – you can visit our website here – INSPOTATS.  

The Boston Marathon 2017

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26.2 miles.  Sometimes that distance can feel easy and accomplishable, and sometimes that distance can feel like 1,000 miles.  A marathon all comes down to a perfect storm of everything going your way on that particular day.  Even if you’ve trained, put the hours and mileage in – everything can unravel by just one thread. The weather has to be suited for you, you have to have something that settled on your stomach the night before, you have to have enough sleep, the right gear, hydrated, no injuries or flare-ups, your mind has to be in the right place…the list goes on and on.

26.2 miles.  You can learn a lot about yourself in that distance.  You have 3+ hours (give or take an hour or 2) to bargain with yourself, hurt, feel great, want to cry, wonder why you’re doing this, think happy thoughts, soak it in, get a little lost…among a lot of other feels.  It’s amazing what the mind will do in only a few hours.  The power of positive thinking is a real thing, and if you don’t believe that – go run a marathon and then we’ll talk.

26.2 miles  People ask me why I run…. and why do I run marathons? (Answer to follow.) Do marathons hurt?  Yes.  Do you really have to train?  Yes, if you want to somewhat enjoy it.  Do I think YOU could do it?  YES.  So, going back to the first question…why do I run and do marathons in particular. I run because it’s my zen, it’s my “me” time, it’s where I figure things out or catch up with a friend or come up with song ideas.  I run because I feel free.  I run for others.  I run because it’s a privilege.  I run marathons because only 1% of the world’s population will ever run a marathon.  While I’m on this earth – I may not make huge waves, but I want to live an extraordinary life and be an example that you really can accomplish anything if you 1. Want it badly enough and 2. Do it the right way.  That is why I run.

26.2 miles.  Humbles me… Every. Single. Time.  If every race were easy and a good race – then PR’s wouldn’t mean so much…  BQ ing wouldn’t mean so much… You have good days and you have bad days.  Even on the bad days…especially on the bad days – I have to think about how I’ve always been a runner.  If you run – you’re a runner.  I didn’t become serious about trying to improve my time until last year.  I had never even step foot on a track until last year.  So, I went from a track virgin to a Boston qualifier in less than a year. If you’re reading this – let me be living proof that if you want something – really want something – no matter your age – you can do it.  ANYTHING.

26.2 miles.  BOSTON.  This marathon was a tough one for me.  I started out trying to run the 7:30 pace that my coach wanted me to and couldn’t maneuver around people…so for the first 4-5 miles I was mad and used up a lot of energy that I really needed later.  I felt behind before I could even get ahead. I felt defeated before the race even really started.  By mile 10 I knew I was too far behind to PR or to qualify again.  It was HOT.  It was HILLY.  The medical tents were packed, and I didn’t want to be one that had to stop by one.  At some point, I decided to try to enjoy it.  I texted people, called a couple of people, took pictures, took Instagram stories and videos, and tried my hardest to soak it in.  I knew I’d finish – not with a good time – but I’d finish.  And that’s exactly what I did.

26.2 miles.  Almost there.  I rounded the corner on to Boylston and thought about all of the runners before me and those to come after me… I thought about the moment I qualified for this race… I thought about 2013 and the moment I heard and felt the boom in my chest from the bombs…. I soaked in all of the people on the sidelines yelling for me…. I looked at the man beside me who was injured and hobbling to the finish…  I thought about my WHY.  Did I have a good time?  NO.  Did I have a good run?  YES.  Would I want it any other way?  Of course I’d prefer a better time, but all in all – I soaked it in.  I am honored, I am grateful, I learned something with every mile, and I was reminded that I am STRONG.  I am Boston Strong.

26.2 miles.  BOSTON.  I’ll be back for you again one day…

The New Year’s Revolution Challenge

First things first – CONGRATULATIONS to all of the participants of the New Year’s Revolution Challenge! You all blew me away with how hard you worked out and how committed you were to eating a Whole30 or Paleo-compliant diet. For those of you who have read my blog before, you know that I have done Whole30 several times and I know firsthand the difficulties this kind of lifestyle change (it isn’t a diet!) can bring. Asking me to give up chocolate is a big deal! But I also know firsthand how incredibly rewarding it is to truly care for your body by nourishing it with whole, natural foods. I know how much better my body feels on Whole30 – during the day when I’m active but also at night when I sleep…so it was very exciting for me to see so many of my clients experience this change for themselves. In total, participants lost a combined 54.3 lbs and 27.9% body fat. Holy crap!!!  That’s so awesome!  Here are the final results…  special congrats to Emily for being the overall winner, and to Derek for hitting his goal of going from 12% body fat to 8%!!!  

Name

lbs lost

Body Fat % lost

Emily 18.8 7%
Brian 8.2 3.9%
Allison 8 5%
Derek 6.1 3.4%
Katie 5.2 2.6%
Lyndsay 5 4%
Liz 3 2%
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Emily’s before & after

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Derek’s before & after

People – I don’t sell a bikini body, I promote a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE…and that’s exactly what these incredible people did in just 6 weeks.  THEY CHANGED THEIR LIVES.

I realized how much my diet affects every single aspect of my life.”
-Allison

One of the most common statements in their responses after this challenge was the realization that what you eat makes such a significant difference. Most people have heard that getting and maintaining a healthy body is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition, but it is a hard claim to believe that until you live through that change yourself. And it isn’t just about losing weight. We TRULY are what we eat, and I think Whole30 makes you really realize what you’re putting in your body MATTERS.  The food we consume is what gives us energy to go about our lives, so the better food we eat, the better lives we are  going to have.

To read the full responses of some of the participants, just keep scrolling!

1. What did you learn/experience from this 6 week challenge?

Allison: In the six weeks, which included Whole 30, I realized how much my diet affects every single aspect of my life – from my sleep to my moods to my mental sharpness and my energy for workouts. Changing my diet made every part of my life better and gave me the energy I needed to work out harder and more often.

Emily: I learned that it really IS all about what you eat. I had always been able to exercise my way around all the baked goods I wanted to eat, but after getting older and having a baby, that just didn’t work anymore.

I also learned that you can do anything for 30 days/6 weeks. I really DON’T need a glass of wine (or 3) after a long day. I really DON’T need a snack every time I walk through the kitchen. I really DON’T need to bake (and eat) brownies to make myself feel better or to show others I care about them.

I have also given up my guilt about food, for the most part. I used to feel so bad about myself and bad in general when I would over indulge. Now, I have a few chips or a glass of wine and don’t beat myself up afterwards. I also don’t punish myself for a “bad food choice” by saying I have to run X number of miles the next day because I ate something.

I also don’t reward myself with food or alcohol. Instead of saying “Megan really killed me today in our training session, so I can eat whatever I want tonight”, I enjoy the way that I feel and don’t want to mess it up. So I’ll try to go get a pedicure or go shopping (which is fun again!) or go to bed early knowing I’ll sleep like a baby until the baby wakes up.

I am also so much more aware of what I’m eating. I’m obsessive about reading labels and now know that just because something is organic or purchased from Whole Foods doesn’t mean there’s not added sugar. I also don’t unconsciously finish off my 1 year old daughters Mac and Cheese or muffin, etc. All the little things really do add up.

I’ve learned that how I feel now is the best reward that I could ask for.

Brian: I became more aware of what I ate and how my body responded to it. I felt like I had good results and became more disciplined on every aspect of my life because I wanted to see and more importantly feel the change.

Derek: Meaningful changes can occur in a short period of time

Katie: I learned how my body feels running on different types of food. The whole 30 process was really eye opening.

2. What was the hardest part of the challenge?

Allison: The hardest part was losing convenience. I did not have cravings for non-compliant food, but I craved the convenience of takeout or a sandwich instead of planning ahead to make sure I was eating clean foods.

Emily: The biggest challenge was the pressure of social situations. It’s really no fun to meet girlfriends for happy hour if you’re not drinking or eating chips and dips! I told lots of folks that I’d need to take a raincheck on their invites until mid-February! I really became a bit of a hermit for the first part of the challenge because I didn’t trust my willpower and didn’t want to be seen as “not fun”. But by the end, I would go out and just drink water and eat before I went so I wasn’t tempted.

It was also a challenge when I would go home to visit my family and have to turn down my Nana’s sweet tea, my mom’s delicious cooking and my dad’s stellar wine cellar. All of which are things that I associate with being at home.

Brian: Learning to relearn the power of food and not just looking at the big picture but just one day at a time. Small victories lead to major wins!

Derek: The diet; It was the hardest but most important part.

Katie: Finding time in my day to workout and then having the motivation after a long day of work!

3. What would you say to/advise someone wanting to make changes?

Allison: My advice for anyone challenging themselves with a certain goal “deadline” like a six week kickstart program is to have a game plan for after your goal period is over. I had such success in my six weeks but I have struggled to stay committed in the weeks after because I realize now I had no goals or plan for my life after the revolution period. 

Emily: [M]y advice for others embarking on this journey: you need a village. I would not have been successful if my partner wasn’t committed to this as well and was eating, and for the most part, preparing our healthy dishes. The encouragement from the FB group made a huge difference as well – knowing there were others who were doing this as well or had done it before. When I did go visit my family, my mom made sure she stocked up on things I could eat and no one ever pressured me to “just have X”. My friends all told me how proud they were of me when I would meet them out and drink water.

Brian: Get your mind right first. You need to want it in order to make it really happen. Baby steps and have realistic goals. We all want instant results, it’s more of a lifestyle change which long term will provide a heathy, happy life. Having a support system/ coach def helps! It’s a team effort.

Derek: Make small, attainable goals so you don’t get discouraged.

Katie: Try the whole 30. If you are focused on being healthier it is the way to go. You have nothing to lose!

4. What will you continue to do from here on out?

Allison: I am continuing to make better choices in my diet and working out more often. I have mixed in Orange Theory and Bar Method along with my Megan workouts and trying to be more active. I plan to do Whole 30 again soon! 

Emily: My plan going forward is to stay Whole 30 compliant 80% of the time but not sweat it when I go off plan. But I’m also not going to go all out and “eat all the things”. I’ve added back in some sprinkles of cheese on salads, a few glasses of wine here and there and, ok, a few margaritas, but only one at a time! I’m still trying to avoid gluten and sweets/baked goods. But when you feel this good, it’s really not worth it! I’ve heard that for years, but now I really believe it. This momma needs a good night of sleep every night!

Brian: I want it more. This process has opened my eyes more than you will ever know. You only get one body/ one life, why not maximize it? The past 6 weeks has improved my life on every level and allowed me to achieve more. It’s been unbelievable and like I mentioned before eye opening. It’s not easy but it’s about the commitment.

Katie: I have transitioned a little to Paleo. I have also kept up with weight training three days a week.

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Can you believe these amazing people?!  It makes my heart beyond happy to share what these people did in just 6 short weeks.  Most of them have set goals from PRing a half marathon to losing a few more to building some serious muscle…  THIS is what makes me grateful every day to do what I do.  THESE PEOPLE continue to inspire me and hopefully you as well.  Stay tuned – I will be doing another 6 week challenge soon!  Congrats again to everyone who participated and changed their life – I am SO proud of you, and so grateful to be a part of  your journey.

**HUGE THANKS to Fleet Feet Nashville, GetFit615, Vigor and Audra Lance for being part of the prize package!  These people worked hard and deserved it!!!  Thank you for supporting this challenge!

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

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These are some of the easiest cookies I’ve ever invented!!  I think you could also make them as muffins because they have that muffin-like consistency!  I’m a sucker for a soft cookie, so this is right up my alley!

While on Whole30 (ish) I needed some extra carbs for all of my running, so I started throwing ingredients in the food processor and came up with these!!  (I since learned that vanilla extract ISN’T Whole30 compliant), but I really only ate these around my LONG ass runs, so I figured I would be forgiven.

I originally made them with raisins and coconut, but if you know me – you know I love me some chocolate, so I made them last night with chocolate chips!  BAM!  So easy, and so good!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tsp (or more) vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or raisins
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with coconut oil.
  2. Bake your sweet potato.  To save time, I prick mine with a fork and put it in the microwave 3-4 minutes each side depending on size.
  3. When your potato is done, add it to the food processor along with the almond meal, oil, vanilla extract and baking soda.  Process until blended.
  4. If the batter is still hot from the potato – put it in the freezer to cool down for 10 minutes or so.  When it has cooled, fold in the chocolate chips and coconut flakes.
  5. Use an ice-cream scoop to scoop out each cookie onto the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake 15-25 minutes until they start to turn a little golden brown on the top.
  7. I like to cool mine in the freezer as well to help them set.  They will be soft just like a baked sweet potato!!
  8. Enjoy!

 

Paleo White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

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I’m always looking for quick and easy, healthy treats to make for my co-writers and friends, and that’s exactly what these guys are!!  (And maybe a little for myself too!)  I found the original recipe on Paleo Running Momma and adjusted very little!  I added in a little spice to just give it that fall flair.

These would be a great addition to a Thanksgiving dessert table!

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg with the coconut oil, vanilla, and coconut sugar until smooth.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  4. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture until fully combined and the mixture is the consistency of a dough (it will be sticky)
  5. Stir the chocolate chips and cranberries into the dough.
  6. If the dough is too sticky to roll into balls, chill first in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  7. Form dough into balls and flatten into cookie shape (they’ll expand but won’t flatten in the oven) and arrange on the parchment lined cookie sheet
  8. Bake in the preheated oven 10 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown – be careful not to overbake.
  9. Remove from oven, allow cookies to sit 2-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. Enjoy!