Pumpkin Pie Granola

What better way to start a gloomy fall morning than with some homemade pumpkin granola?

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This weekend, I was on a mission to create a pumpkin recipe. Last year, I baked a delicious loaf of pumpkin swirl bread, so this year I wanted to tackle a new kind of project.

 

Which brings me to pumpkin pie granola.

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I absolutely love making homemade granola. It’s so simple to do, customizable, and fills the house with an amazing smell.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats, not instant
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (overflowing) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 TBL Maple syrup or honey
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • nuts or dried berries (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Have a baking sheet with non-stick spray handy.

 

First, combine all the oats, spices, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

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In another bowl, combine applesauce, pumpkin, brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

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Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and coat evenly. Clumps will form while mixing, which is what you want. If you don’t want it clumpy, you can break it up later.

 

Evenly spread the granola mixture onto the baking pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, mix, and continue baking for 15 minutes or until the granola is crispy and golden.

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At this point, you could add nuts or berries, if desired. Let granola cool completely, and store in an air tight container!

 

It pairs especially well with raspberries, in my opinion. 🙂

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I like to eat this granola as cereal (with milk), but it also pairs great with yogurt!

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YUM!

 

Have you tried making your own granola? What flavors do you like the best?

 

❤ MegaNerd

Thankful

Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks. This year, I’m thankful for…

 

I’m thankful for homemade pumpkin pie.

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I’m thankful for my crazy family.

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I’m thankful that I have healthy food to eat.

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I am thankful to have people in my life that I love.

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I’m thankful I live close enough to go home whenever I feel like… and enjoy a delicious thanksgiving meal with my family!

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I’m thankful for my adorable and talented little sister.

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I am thankful for having time to be silly!

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I have so much to be thankful for.

 

❤ MegaNerd

St. Pete Women’s Half Marathon Recap

Another half-marathon with my BFF- check! 🙂

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This morning, Debbie and I completed the Women’s Half Marathon in St. Pete, FL. It was my 5th half, and Debbie’s 4th. The race was tough, but surprisingly one of my favorites!

 

It all started on Saturday, when Debbie and I met at the race expo. We checked the board for our race numbers…

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…and collected our schwag! IMG_0857 

The expo was very… pink! Seriously, though, it was a great expo with tons of merchandise and women’s specific everything. One of the best

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After the expo, we headed to Debbie’s parents house for Thanksgiving Dinner! I had a plate full, with a little of everything.

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No girls’ weekend would be complete without the traditional girls’ night pants. Thanks, Deb!

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After setting our alarms for a painful early 4:30am (we had a 1.5 hour drive), we hit the hay early. The race started at 7:00am, and we lined up according to our bib numbers (in corrals) just before the race began.

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The course was one of the best I’ve run. We ran all around the town, near the water…

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…to the pier and back…

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…and even inside of Tropicana Field, where the Devil Rays (baseball team) play!

 

The race did a great job of displaying every mile marker clearly, with timers at every one.

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Water stations were a plenty! I barely had time to get thirsty before hitting the next station. It was great.

 

I was shocked to find a handful of men even competing in this otherwise-all-women race.

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Debbie and I had discussed aiming for around a 9:00 min/mile pace prior to the race. We started out together and maintained a solid 8:45 min/mile average pace for the first 5.0 miles.

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I started to wonder if I had started out to ambitiously, but my legs were feeling fine. But then…

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…the stomach pains began. 😦

 

Debbie continued on without me, while I walked through the water stations. I figured I would catch up soon, but my pace started to rapidly drop as the pains got sharper.

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What started off as a great race was quickly turning sour. I kept feeling the urge to walk as my stomach pain intensified. It hurt less when I slowed my pace, but I knew my legs could move faster.

 

I knew that if I slowed my pace, my stomach would feel better, but I wanted to RACE! I don’t sign up for races “just to finish” anymore… I come to RACE! I race to push my body to new limits and see what I’m capable of.

 

Then, something hit me. By slowing down my pace, I wasn’t giving up. I wasn’t quitting. I was simply adjusting my pace so that I wouldn’t throw my breakfast onto an innocent bystander.

 

Once I decided to maintain about a 9:45-10:00 min/mile pace, my stomach pains calmed…but were still lingering. I tried to focus on one thing, and one thing only. Having FUN!

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Sometimes, I take myself way to seriously. Every race cannot be a personal best. But you can personally make the best of it. 🙂

 

Debbie and I passed each other during an out-and-back near miles 11-12. We waved, and I gave her two thumbs up! She was almost a full mile ahead of me when she finished in 1:57:00 (and change).

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By the time I came around the final turn of the race, my watch was already well past the two hour mark.

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I crossed the finish line in 2:07:30 (unofficial), setting a new PW, or Personal Worst. I finished approximately 16 minutes slower than my PR of 1:51:07, from last December.

 

I thought I would be way more disappointed than I actually am! I really don’t feel bummed at all. I love racing! This summer, I struggled through 3.0 mile runs. I’ve come SO far in such a short time, that it’s hard to justify self-pity.

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Even though today I set a new PW, it was one of my favorite races. Despite my intense stomach pains, I know I can run faster. The course was beautiful, the buddies were great, and the feeling of finishing was amazing.

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I can’t wait to race again! In the meantime, I need to figure out these crazy stomach pain issues…they’ve been ruining a lot of potentially great races this year.

 

❤ MegaNerd

Technical difficulties but tommorow is race day!

Of all times not to have internet connection, the night before a big race is a bad one. 😦

Looks like I won’t be able to publish my full blog post tonight, so this mini will have to do. Luckily my iPhone has a wordpress app for emergencies!

Tommorow morning at 7:00am, I’ll be running my 5th half marathon in St Pete, FL. 🙂 I’m so excited to be running with my BFF!!

I’ll be posting updates to my Twitter account at twitter.com/meganerdruns so you can follow my progress there! if you happen to be a fellow racer, look for bib number 1308, that’s me!!

We are anticipating a finish time of between 1:50 and 2:00, so wish us luck! I can’t wait to get back to an Internet source for a FULL recap.

I’m off to bed. The alarm is set for 4:30am-yikes!

❤ MegaNerd

Breakfast for Dinner

Today was one of those days I wish never happened. Let’s fast forward to the weekend, shall we?

 

It started simply enough, with a missed run. My legs were heavy this morning, and I didn’t want to push it with my upcoming race. Easy enough to get over. I made good use of my extra time before work by getting some freelance work done at Starbucks, over a Gingerbread Latte.

 

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Today was a rough one. There really is no other explanation. By the time I got home at 8:00pm, I realized I hadn’t eaten in 9 hours! I was starvvvvvving. Enter, food…and a lot of it.

 

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I decided to make breakfast for dinner. Something about having the first meal of the day made it feel like a new day. I needed that. 🙂

 

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Breakfast dinner included:

  • Two slices of whole wheat toast
  • Organic Strawberry jelly
  • Two whole, scrambled eggs
  • Cantaloupe
  • Instant grits

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Yummmmmy.

 

It’s funny, I used to hate breakfast foods as a kid. Now, I think they are the best comfort food! Interesting how that our taste buds change.

 

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It’s only 9:00pm, but I’m off to curl up in bed. I’m currently ADDICTED to the show Dexter, and have been watching it on Netflix!

 

Here’s to a better tomorrow! 😀

 

❤ MegaNerd

Just a Sample

Do these legs make me look fast?   IMG_0862

Notice my inability to touch my toes. I should really work on that.

 

Whew! I got in a 4.0 mile run this morning before heading into work. I only have a couple of runs left before this Sunday’s Half! The heat and humidity were a little more noticeable this morning than I would have liked, but otherwise, a great run!

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The entire run, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the race. This year has felt like a bit of a failure on the racing front. I’ve only raced twice (the Disney marathon in January and the Miracles Miles 15k in September) and I wasn’t very happy after either race. It’s been a tough year for me running-wise, but I feel extra pumped for this race. I feel like I excel at this distance more than shorter or longer, so it gives me a boost of confidence.

 

I ran the first 2.0 miles at an easy pace, around 9:45 min/mile. For the second half of the run, I aimed to keep my pace under a 9:00 min/mile. I am thinking about my half marathon goals, and decided to give my legs a little sample of what Sunday will be like.

 

Speaking of samples… look what Kashi sent me! I sent away for this freebie months ago, and it finally arrived.

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I had it as a pre-run snack. It was a little less soft than I anticipated, but still had a good strawberry flavor.

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Coming soon… my goals for this weekend’s half-marathon!

 

❤ MegaNerd

Sunday Science Experiment

Less than one week until half-marathon day! I’m getting so excited!

 

I had a little extra time before heading to work on Sunday morning, and decided to squeeze in another 8.0 mile run before heading to babysit. I thought my last long run before the half would have been on Friday with Kelly, but the weekends just don’t feel complete without a long run anymore!

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I completed another 8.0 miler at my favorite park, before heading to Einstein Bagel for some post-run grub.

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I had a superfood odwalla and an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese to top off the tanks. I headed to the gym to shower (yes, JUST to shower. Don’t judge me…) and headed off to work.

 

When I say I headed to work, I should have mentioned that I got to spend the day with a pretty cool four-year old. We started our adventures at one of my favorite local spots: Infusion Tea.

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I had my usual half roasted pears salad

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…with a new (to me) sandwich!

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I’m not sure of the exact name of this, but I’m going to call it crunchy fruit sandwich X-treme. Why the EXTREME you ask? Because it was extremely messy to eat… but extremely delicious at the same time. I felt like I was eating a child’s science experiment. Almond butter dripped all over my fingers as I brought the amazing strawberry-banana-granola stuffed between two fluffy pieces of bread to my mouth.

 

Holy-freaking-yum. So simple. Why didn’t I think of that?! This is a must re-create at home.

 

Whew, that took a lot out of me. 🙂

 

We continued our lovely science experiment at the Orlando Science Center.

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We explored the depths of the ocean…

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…met T-rex…

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…dug for fossils…

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…create “to scale” planets out of foam…

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…learned some environmental tid-bits…

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…and learned about the human body!

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Go, science! I’m getting sleepy… off to hit the hay!

 

Are you a science geek like me? 😀

 

❤ MegaNerd