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I think most of us know Brandi, the brains behind the great blog, BranAppetit! She’s funny, she takes great pictures and she never fails to leave a witty comment! Hey Brandi, there’s 3 things I love about you!

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Hi everyone! I’m Brandi, from BranAppetit (www.branappetit.wordpress.com) and I’m so happy to be doing a guest post for Whit! And I’m not even doing a food post.

I love, love, love her blog – she never fails to make me laugh or smile.

I know with the holidays coming up, it’s easy to get sidetracked by all the food, family, get togethers, and stress, but I thought it would be fun to focus on ourselves for a minute.

I don’t know about you, but I’m horribly critical of myself most of the time. I’m so much better at complimenting or giving encouragement to someone else rather than myself, but it’s so important that we value and acknowledge ourselves!

While this isn’t directly related to Thanksgiving or any other holidays, this is the time of year that most people are thinking about what they’re thankful for – and part of that is being thankful for who we are and what we do.

I want everyone reading this to comment with 3 things that they love about themselves, okay?

I’ll even go first 😀

1. I’m funny…or at least, I think I am 😉 I love making other people laugh – I think a person’s true self shows up when they’re laughing so hard that they can barely breathe…and it’s a beautiful thing.

2. I am exactly like my mom. That’s a good thing.

3. One thing that I can’t control is that I want to make sure everyone I’m around feels included. I know what it feels like to be the 5th wheel, and I don’t want anyone around me to feel as though they’re not welcome or part of the group.

Thanks again to Whit for letting me guest post – I hope this is fun for everyone! It was fun for me to think of these and put them in writing.

Now it’s your turn –

Ready, set,…go!

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Should I go???

I guess I should…

1. I have a different sense of humor. I like it, even if others don’t always get it!

2. I genuinely care about people, especially my family. There is nothing I would not do for my family…especially all those younger sisters! 😉

3. I love my legs. I do. They are strong, powerful and recently carried me for 20 miles! I’m depending on them in my upcoming marathon, and I know they won’t fail me!

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Today’s post is brought to you by Maya from American Gourmande! Maya is working as a nanny in Hawaii. I love reading about her adventures while there, but also about her marathon training. Maya is training for a marathon, just as I am; and last week ran her 20 miler. Take it away Maya!

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Hello Whit’s Getting Fit readers! I’m Maya, and I have a little foodie and running blog, American Gourmande.

When Whitney asked for guest bloggers, I knew I wanted to contribute. Like Whitney, I am training for my first marathon. On December 13, I will embark the 26.2 mile journey to the finish line of the Honolulu Marathon.

If you told me last year that I would be running 40 miles a week, and enjoy it, I would have laughed. Running was a chore. Exercise. A way to burn a few hundred calories, sweat, and then move on with my day. Even as a cross country runner, running was torturous.

It wasn’t until I studied abroad in French speaking Belgium that I gained an appreciation for running. In Belgium it seemed that people didn’t believe in gyms or exercising. Even on a beautiful day, there were very few joggers in the park.

After about a month of no exercise, I craved movement. I needed the endorphins to lift my spirits. My aerobic options were limited, so I laced up my sneakers and headed out the door.

I didn’t know my pace, or how many miles I ran. But as the seasons changed, I ran at least 3 or 4 times a week. I did it mainly to stay sane. Running became therapeutic. It was time to myself to think about recent events, sort through problems, and reflect. Bonus: it’s a natural mood booster and running helped me survive Belgium’s coldest winter in years.

When I returned to the United States, I had already cultivated a love for running. My peak mileage at the time was six miles. Even this past summer, running a half marathon seemed like a major goal, one in which I would need many months to train.

I moved to Hawaii in early September and joined local running clubs for group runs. Many members were training for the Honolulu marathon, and slowly the idea grew on me. It seemed like the perfect challenge and a souvenir of my time in Hawaii.

Only three months ago, a 7 mile run seemed long. A half marathon felt like a lofty goal. Now I run 13 miles or more on an ordinary long run training day. I average 35-40 miles a week, and completed my longest training run last weekend of 20 miles.

This all seems very difficult to many, and I completely understand, as fairly recently I felt the same. However, I’ve found that the biggest obstacle in marathon training is mental. Of course, marathon training requires a base line of fitness. You can’t jump off the couch one day and expect to run 10+ miles the next. But if you are capable of six mile runs, I am fairly confident that with proper training and care, you can conquer 26.2 miles.

Just because you are capable of marathon training doesn’t mean that you should want to. DEFINITELY do not should feel pressure to. If you want to train a marathon, do so for yourself and no one else. And please, don’t do it for weight loss. Do it because you love running and want to see how far it goes.

And if running ain’t your thang, there are plenty of other physical challenges you can pursue. Like doing 50 consecutive push-ups, biking 100 miles, doing a head stand or back bend in yoga.

During my 20 mile run last Sunday I started to hit a wall by mile 15. I could only overcome that wall mentally. I imagined my Garmin reading 20 miles and willed my legs to move. At the end of the day, all these physical challenges demand a lot of your body. But they also require 110% of you mentally. You need to believe in yourself fully to make your physical challenge possible.

Most importantly, whatever physical challenge you decide to undertake, make sure you love it! And good luck!

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The smile on my face is 100% genuine. This is during a long run after taking a week off from running to prevent injury. I was so happy to be hitting the pavement again!

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Thank you so much for sharing your story Maya! One question: Where did you find that cute running outfit?

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Hi guys! I hope every one is having a fabulous Thanksgiving! While I’m gone I have arranged a few lovely ladies to do some guest posting. Today the lovely Beth from Kitchen Courage is sharing her squash pie recipe! I love reading Beth’s blog, because not only does she share great recipes; she always has a fun story to share as well.

Take it away Beth!

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P1090073 by betherann

Hello, fabulous fans of the fittest Whit in town!  Happy turkey day to the Americans, and happy holiday season to the rest!  Before I get on with this guest post, let me just gush for a moment about Whit.  As a fellow blogging (check me out at www.kitchencourage.com), running, yoga-ing sold-out-on-God gal, I find so much encouragement in her posts here, as well as excellent meal ideas (my current favorite from the Getting Fit kitchen: microwaved fruit topped with yogurt and cereal — yum!).

Okay, enough of the rabid blogger fan-girl.  Let’s save that for Twilight, shall we?

When Whit suggested sharing one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes with you, I knew immediately what ingredient would be the star: pumpkin!  I am a pumpkin (and squash) addict.  I simply cannot get enough.  I put pureed pumpkin into just about everything : chili, salad, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter — and the list goes on!  And that does not even touch on the non-pureed forms of squash, like the ubiquitous butternut squash fries, roasted maple-drizzled acorn squash, or spaghetti squash smothered with salsa and avocado.  Have I mentioned that I like squash?

When you add squash to the Thanksgiving holiday, the result is, naturally, pumpkin pie.  Tasty and amazingly spiced and creamy and — I’m gushing again, aren’t I?  Still, of all the pies in the world, pumpkin pie is not only delicious, but it also happens to be the healthiest.  The pumpkin variety of this dessert tends to clock in with more nutrition (fiber!) and less desired dessert fallout (sugar!  trans fats!) then its apple or pecan brethren.  If you want to indulge without going too crazy, pumpkin pie is the way to go.

Of course, pumpkin pie is good all year round.  What to do then?  I’ll share my solution to that conundrum — my recipe for Harvest Spiced Squash Pie.  I first created this for the Royal Foodie Joust in autumn of 2008 (read my unveiling post here: http://www.kitchencourage.com/2008/10/apple-er-acorn-of-my-eye-squash-pie.html).  This is a crust-less of pumpkin pie that not only makes a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving Day table, but also doubles as an any-time nutritious treat.  I’ll confess, though — the leftovers of this pie constituted more than one lunch or dinner!  The fact that my husband doesn’t like pumpkin at all was good news, because that simply meant more pie for me!

In the recipe below I used a combination of acorn squash and canned pumpkin puree, but feel free to substitute in your favorite mashed squash.  Also, I garnished this particular pie with orange maple syrup, which added a surprising flavor twist.  As with all of my recipes, I encourage you to play with this and make it your own.  For more nutritious recipes, pumpkin-themed or otherwise, stop by Kitchen Courage (www.kitchencourage.com).  Thanks for reading! 

For the pie:
1.5 cup skim milk
1/2 cup egg replacers (or 2 eggs, beaten)
1/2 cup acorn squash, mashed
1.5 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp sage
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray (I use a spray with a canola oil base).
To harvest the acorn squash, slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. (I saved the seeds and roasted them while the pie baked — simply sprinkle them with cinnamon and sage and leave them in the oven for about 15 minutes or until browned and crispy-dry. I let mine go for too long and burned them, but I like them that way!) Fill a slightly concave plate with water and place one half of the acron squash face down in it. Microwave until the skin is tender (at least 5 minutes, often closer to 10 depending on the squash’s size). Let the squash sit until cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh (or, alternatively, peel the skin away if tender enough). Mash the flesh slightly. One half of a small acorn squash provides enough for this recipe, but feel free to experiment with different ratios of acorn squash to pumpkin puree (for which I used canned pumpkin).

Making pie by betherann

In a blender, combine the milk, eggs, cornstarch, and vanilla. Add the acorn squash and pumpkin and continue to blend. A lovely froth will foam over the surface of the mixture. Add the rest of the spices and puree for at least two minutes. Scrape down the blender’s sides with a spatula every so often. When fully integrated, pour the mixture into the pie pan.

Harvest spiced squash pie by betherann
Bake 50-60 minutes, or until browned at the edges and cooked through the center. The pie will not be completely solid, but should hold its form when sliced. The pie will rise substantially while baking, so you may want to either use a deep dish pie pan or place the regular sized pie pan on top of a baking sheet.
Allow the pie to cool before slicing and serving. Sprinkle with your choice of toppings, or try my orange maple syrup with a sprinkling of roasted acorn squash seeds and a dollop of rich Greek yogurt. This pie tastes great fresh or chilled!

For the syrup:
1 T orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used sugar-free)
1 generous shake of cinnamon
(Use as much or little cinnamon as you prefer. My "generous shake" came from a Costco-sized jar of the spice, so it probably amounted to at least 1 teaspoon, if not more. Trust your palate on this one!)

Combine the concentrate, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir until blended. If you like your syrup warm, heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Harvest spiced squash pie by betherann

Happy Thanksgiving, and may the squash be with you!
Beth of Kitchen Courage  🙂

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Thanks so much Beth! This looks fabulous and I can’t wait to try it!

PS: Beth mentioned Twilight above? I finally saw New Moon last night! OMG…so good! 😀

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