Guest post from “The Tipsy Cupcake”

It’s guest post time! Our very first one! This guest post has been submitted by Amber, who owns and operates the fantastic blog: The Tipsy Cupcake. A great gal to know for she has outstanding amounts of knowledge in the food and wine department.

Eight months ago, my boyfriend and I were sitting in our living room and out of the blue he asked me, “would you ever want to run a half marathon?”  Without much thought, I candidly said, “I’d run the Disney half – Florida in February seems like great running weather and it’s flat as a pancake.”  Somehow this causal conversation progressed into a 24-week training program with a commitment to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon on February 24th.

First, I need to preface this with the fact that up until eight months ago, I didn’t run.  I think it would take a homicidal clown chasing me with a butcher’s knife to get me to run – literally.  It really just wasn’t my thing.  I ran a bit back in college when I was in training for rugby but nothing extreme.  The day after I registered for the half, it hit me.  I hate running.

My first attempts at training were pretty sad.  I think I cried at about a mile and a half.  I was frustrated, sore and really, really wanted to quit.  I went home, moped around for a while and then decided the “just run” plan wasn’t quite suited for me.  Having no baseline, I needed to start from square one and work my way into this.

I started with the Couch to 5k program, which honestly, I can’t say enough good things about.  The first two weeks on the program were honestly, annoying as heck.  I felt like I wasn’t doing enough but decided to trust in the program.  After eight weeks, I was comfortably jogging three miles without walk breaks.  [Woot!]  From there, I was fortunate enough to have the support and advice of my avid runner friend Jenny.

Using the framework of her training plan and adding in some cross training options that I knew could help keep me on track (primarily swimming, yoga and toning exercises), we developed a regimen that I’ve not only been able to stick to, but have actually enjoyed.  The basic fundamental has been one long run per week that I’ve gradually increased in distance over time, one shorter, speed-based run and one maintenance run.  It’s not only been manageable, but I’ve actually grown to enjoy my distance runs.  It’s really become a time for me to let go of a lot of my daily stress and just enjoy getting from point A to point B.

Right alongside my training plan, I’ve also made a lot of changes to my diet.  Long runs are a lot less fun with last night’s pizza sitting in your stomach like a rock.  That being said, I still love great food and I’m not one to willingly skip dessert which has led me to some really great alternative recipes that cure cravings without weighing me down.  I wanted to end this guest post by sharing my recipe for Sweet Potato Ginger Brownies – they’re easy to make, absolutely delicious and grain-free.

Sweet Potato Ginger Brownies

2 cups smashed sweet potato (about 2 medium sized potatoes)
3 eggs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut flour
3 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 chocolate chips or cocoa nibs (optional)

– Boil, bake or microwave your sweet potato until fork tender
– Boiling: about 25 minutes
– Baking: about 75 minutes in a 475 degree oven
– Microwaving: about 7 minutes wrapped in cellophane
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees
– In a stand mixer, combine the sweet potato, eggs, coconut oil, honey, vanilla and grated fresh ginger and mix until well incorporated
– Combine your dry ingredients and gradually add them to the sweet potato mixture
– Fold in your chocolate chips or cocoa nibs by hand
– Spread the batter evenly in a greased and floured 9×9 baking dish
– Bake for 35-45 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean
– Cool for a minimum of 30 minutes before cutting

Visit Amber’s blog: The Tipsy Cupcake

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