Vegan hemp protein brownies/trail fuel

20140329_170132Life is change, but this year's carrying a lit up, blazing shock of it. Above all, there's the BIG, all encompassing one that is our sweet love-him-more-than-life-itself baby, already more boy than babe. Every day his gleaming eyes declare new, lively awareness; that kissable rosebud mouth announces rocketing learning with greater decisiveness; and those peals, squeals and giggles that delight and melt my heart (along with the rest of him) are increasingly distinctly him. He, Little Monkey, is the blanketing, beautiful, BIG change that has become my world, and thank goodness for that. Because otherwise, I'd allow my mind to continuously occupy itself with another big milestone-- that I am now officially a Master's runner. You know what that means. (But you can't make me say it.)

Recently, I've had a slight knee issue which has been impacting me psychologically more than anything. Noise rather than ache. I've been reassured not to worry for now. That's sage advice I frequently dispense on others and rarely take myself. Why would I, when instead I can indulge in a dark, buzzing  cloud of paranoid fretting: Is this the beginning of the end? How numbered are my running days? Will my baby be embarrassed of his creaky crone of a mom when she picks him up from school...four years from now?

20140316_142433Some days I need to remind myself, my post-baby body is not even 8-months back to being on its own again. The issues I over-think repeatedly are just as much to do with rebuilding strength, alignment, and navigating a whole new world that includes a chunky monkey on the hip, the front, or the floor in front of my bent knees.

Funny, thinking about that post-baby body, and the baby that was in it, I end up coming to the same conclusions as when I let myself loiter in time-wasting distress about aging.I want my baby to know me as a runner, an active person who embraces the outdoors and physical challenges. One day even a runner who does triathlons again, when a little more time opens up for the bike and the pool. I want to share these things with him for the long haul. I know that means getting over intimidation of the technical and taking to the trails; focusing on core work; accepting less is more; and prioritizing recovery as a crucial part of much harder than it sounds, right?

So it might sound hypocritical to be gearing up for a 50K, my first official ultra since pregnancy. I wonder why I didn't take into  account when signing up the cramped scheduling our little +1 brings when it comes to training opportunities, or the fact that I'd be having to stop to nurse/pump on the day. Ironically, though, turning to a year sprinkled with fewer races including an ultra or two feels more in line with the long-haul goals than concentrating on road marathons or even shorter races. The pounding is less intense. In the new mommy-mode of "get out and do it/no dawdling" when a window of opportunity to get out there presents itself, out I go to enjoy the trail. It's unexpectedly less stressful than it sounds (so far).


Another thing about ultra training, it goes well with real food fuel.  I may miss taking long runs as an opportunity to stuff my face with candy  fuel with certain tasty products, but we've been enjoying exploring the potential of homemade real food. This is especially the case when it comes to prepping Dave for Leadville this summer. So far our main trials have been  great portables from Allen Lim. This week, though, the experiment feels a little guiltily decadent. For my birthday, Dave surprised me with some alluring special ingredients, including coconut flour and hemp protein powder. So, I made him run fuel-brownies.

Typically I steer away from protein powders, but hemp could be an exception. Hemp has been increasingly touted as a super food.  Its protein powder is upheld as an excellent plant-based protein source, easily digestible, and  containing all essential amino acids as well as the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids. Producing the powder doesn't seem an exhaustive, eyebrow raising process: whole hemp seeds are cold-pressed to expel the oil; the resulting dry cake is milled at low temps to produce a concentrated form of protein. Certainly not exceeding the task of churning out a box of bran flakes.  I think sprinkling whole hemp seeds over oatmeal is likely more cost-effective, but the powder has appeal, not least because of how I get to bake with it.


For these brownies, I used this recipe from Fitness treats, only I used almond meal, was liberal with the cocoa powder, and just had to throw in some chocolate chips. Allen Lim includes some in several of his portables, so I figured, what's the harm? At least the hemp protein powder won't go to waste with chocolate chip insurance. I also doubled the recipe. Good thing, because even doubling I was hard pressed to evenly spread the batter (thick and sticky...and good) across a small-for-an 8 X 8 baking pan. I used every ounce of that batter, too except for part I couldn't help licking.

I baked on the longer side because the intention was that they'd handle being wrapped and bounced a little on Dave's run. They turned out tasting  (and this will be a turnoff for some, but to me it's only positive) healthfully fudgy. Snack or long run fuel, these aren't lean on calories, but they're made with some good stuff. Wholesome burst of chocolatey energy. Mmm.

Vegan hemp protein brownies/trail fuel Makes approx 9 brownies

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup hemp protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4  to 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or mix well in a bowl. Bake in an 8 X 8 baking pan (or smaller, for thicker brownies) at 375 for 15-20 minutes.