Making a healthier version of the traditional Snickers candy bar has been on my to-do list for quite a while now. I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t like Snickers. I guess folks who aren’t into peanuts would be tossed into that group. I, on the other hand, could eat peanut butter like it’s my day job.
These 5-Ingredient Vegan Snickers Bars are, well, you guess it, made with only 5 different ingredients; peanuts/peanut butter, dates, chickpea flour, coconut oil & chocolate! It took some playing around but I’m pretty amazed with the turnout. The ooey-gooey caramel, crunchy peanuts and nice hit of dark chocolate makes for a perfect treat. And like all RFG desserts, these bars are made without any refined sugar and are sweetened with mejdool dates.
I started physiotherapy a couple weeks back, which has been a fun process thus far. I don’t have any pressing issues per say, but as a runner, my knee sometimes locks up on me. In the past, after hitting the 4K mark, I used to get a pinching feeling in the fleshy part of either my right or the left knee (there was no rhyme or reason), and it would lock up, forcing me to slow down and walk. I haven’t had this pain in over a year or so, but as we all know, everything is connected to everything. So I figured I’d take advantage of the service. Plus, you never know if and when it’ll come back.
I got the physiotherapist’s name from my mother. She’s been seeing Andrew for years and whenever I visited home (and mentioned something about my knee) she’d always rant and rave about how good he is and how much he’s helped her. So I decided to give it a whirl.
On my second session, he had me hold certain poses to observe my posture, the strength of my muscles and my balance. I’m sure he was looking for other things too, but I caught on to about that much. He concluded that my right side is stronger than my left, but I could’ve told you that. My left arm strength is pretty lame. About six months ago, my dad asked me to toss him the clicker (or remote control) and my right hand was full, so I decided it would be a solid idea to send it via my left hand. Like a boomerang, the clicker flew way left field and then took a hard right last minute and smacked him on the side of his head. Not my finest moment. Along with the lack of strength, my left arm’s hand-eye connection leaves much to be desired. In short, my left arm has no game.
Andrew had me perform a series of movements; walk towards/away from him, lift up onto my tippy-toes, hold for 5 and then lower back down, and, while standing on a step-box, slowly step down with my right foot, then step back up and then repeat on my left side. You’re so much more aware of your movements when someone is squatting down in front of you, watching you intently. I felt like I was breaking into a nervous sweat wondering if I was walking ‘right’; something I’ve been doing for almost 30 years and in that moment I felt like an antelope learning to walk, losing my balance and doubting each step I took.
From there we moved on to the fun stuff. At the end of our first session, he had asked me to come wearing shorts, a tank and the running shoes I always run in for our next visit. And so I did. I gathered this was so he could have a better look at my movements and how my joints move when I move. He said we were going to record a video of me running and play it back in slow-mo and dissect it.
We started off with walking and he’d look at my footing from all angles. He increased the speed to a jog and recorded a 1-2 minute video from the side view. We watched the video in slo-mo and (thanks to the app he was using) he was able to draw a line (on the video image) straight up from my lumbar to cervical spine. By doing this, he was able to show the angle of my spine while I run. Turns out I’m super vertical.
The main issue he pointed out was that I take long strides when I run. This is a problem because the longer the stride, the straighter the leg is when it lands, which puts a lot of pressure on the knee joint. Since I take long strides, it forces me to land on my heel instead on the middle of my foot (the safer way to run). This was a big clue as to why my knee could have been affected.
So we got back on the treadmill but this time he set up a metronome. For those who don’t know what a metronome is, it’s a device that produces an audible beat and is usually used by musicians. I remember when I was younger, my piano teacher used to set one up and count ‘1 and 2 and 3 and 4..etc’ along with it’s ticks while I played. A metronome measures beats per minute, or in this case, steps per minute. After listening to my steps as I ran, we figured out that my pace is 163 bpm. He requested I start running at 175-180 bpm. And so we did a test run. No pun intended.
As soon as he set the tone to 175 bpm I noticed an immediate difference. It felt so strange to take shorter steps; it almost felt like I was skipping. “It doesn’t feel like Im doing any work though.. it feels too easy!” I said. “That’s exactly what we want. Running long distance shouldn’t be over strenuous, leaving you feeling exhausted.” he reassured. This whole time I’ve been taking longer, harder strides and slowly damaging my knees in the process.
For the second round, he videotaped me running at 175 bpm. Afterwards, he lined up both videos (the original and second take) side by side. This feature allowed us to look at my posture and leg extensions and compare. It was super cool to see! When I was running the second time around, I felt like I looked silly. In actual fact, I looked more awkward in my first video, when I thought I was running properly.
We ended up chatting more about running techniques and tips. I didn’t realize how much detail goes into running. He took a look at my shoes and I knew he had more to say there, which was disconcerting. I got my runners at Running Room maybe 10 months ago and spent a hefty penny on those puppies; mostly because the sales guy said I needed more support. I learned that not only are they heavy, but too much unnecessary cushioning can actually cause injuries. A lighter shoe with not as much support will help build key muscles in your legs. I thought it would be a simple ‘buy shoes and switch’ but I was wrong about that as well. I was advised to slowly introduce the new shoes. And by slowly, he said to wear the new shoes for two minutes during my runs for 2 months! Talk about slow and steady win the race. I learned that if you switch your shoes too abruptly (going from major support to significantly decreased support), you can actually cause more harm than good – and very quickly too.
I’ve been given a series of mini exercises to help strengthen the weaker muscles over the next few months. Since our last encounter, I’ve downloaded the metronome app and have used it on my runs. I thought I was going to go crazy hearing the ‘beep, beep, beep, etc’ while I ran, but it was surprisingly helpful! Whenever my mind sidetracked, the beeping was there to remind me to get back on course with my steps.
The next couple weeks will be focused on familiarizing myself with those running techniques. I’m not sure if sparked or revived are the right verbs to describe how I feel about these newly learned tricks, but they have definitely inspired me to get out there and try to perfect them. Time will tell! I’ll keep you posted. 🙂
- 8 medjool dates
- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 5 tbsp organic peanut butter
- 1 tbsp organic coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt
- 2 tbsp water
- 20 dates, soaked 15 minutes in warm water
- 6-8 tbsp water
- pinch 1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt
- 3/4 cup organic peanuts
- 340 g 85% dark chocolate
- Line a 9 X 9 baking pan with saran wrap. Make sure there is extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides to be able to cover the layers as you go.
- In a food processor, combine nougat ingredients and blend until smooth. Press into pan using your fingers. Cover with saran wrap and place in fridge.
- In a food processor, combine caramel ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Remove nougat from fridge and remove saran wrap. Pour caramel layer overtop. Sprinkle peanuts evenly. Cover with saran and place in freezer for 30-45 minutes or until firm enough to slice.
- In a double boiler, melt chocolate.
- Remove snickers from freezer and slice into bite-sized pieces. Dip and coat the snickers evenly in chocolate. Place on a baking rack or pan lined with parchment paper. Place back in freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
- Store snickers in fridge for 3 weeks or freezer up to two months.