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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vegan Running Update

I was up at 4AM this morning, so I could get my weekly "long run" in before the sun got too hot. I waited till 5:00 to actually hit the road, because it was too scary out there on the dark. I wasn't worried about traffic. We live in a rural neighborhood, on a dirt road. I know of one person who drives by every morning at exactly 5:00, but other than that, it's pretty quiet around here until around 7. If I was running in the evening I'd be worried about drunk drivers, and actually, any time after 7AM you're taking your chances with people in a rush to get to work, and with people like Rick and I saw the other day - a man in the passenger seat, with a child of about 8 years old behind the wheel. Yes, really.

My concern in the pre-dawn hours is dogs. A lot of people let their dogs run loose at night, and I didn't want to encounter the local pack out there all by myself. I was pretty lucky, and only saw one loose, mean dog, which happens to belong to our neighbors, and which I had a friendly conversation with them about just a few days ago. I guess I have to call Animal Control, which has always been a waste of time for me, and perhaps I'd better reconsider a little can of pepper spray. Sigh...

Being awake and outside at that time of morning was pretty amazing. I watched as the sky began to get light, and shadows took shape under the trees. The birds woke up shortly after I got out there, and the sheep in the field around the corner were already in mid-breakfast when I went by. I keep hoping that one of these days I'll get to see the peacock that lives there fly down from his nightly perch in one of the giant old cottonwood trees that grow along the side of the road that was once a stretch of the El Camino Real, going all the way to Mexico City.

I listened to an African Pandora station on my iPhone, in hopes of channeling some Kenyan running magic. Taos sometimes looks a lot like the place we visited in Ethiopia, and I found myself sort of transported to another continent. I don't think it helped my running much though. Today was a hard one for me. 9 miles of running and walking had me seriously wondering if I'll really be able to go the 13.1 mile distance in September. This is really, really hard.

Somewhere in the last couple of miles, it occurred to me that I've been comparing myself to my 26 year old daughter, who can run forever, and to ultra athletes I've been reading about, who have been running professionally for years. In a snap-out-of-it moment, I reminded myself that I'm almost 55 for godsakes, and I only just started all this in February. I've been feeling like I'm somehow defective, like I got a clunker of a body, just because I can't just hop to my feet and run like a Kenyan. How ridiculous. Even if I'd been doing all this for the last however-many years, there's no guarantee I could ever get anywhere near that good. There's nothing wrong with my body, and my body isn't me. It's just where I live. It's the "equipment," and I'm still learning how to operate it, kind of like that little kid driving the car the other day.

I have 2 more months before the race, and again I remind myself that my only goal there is to finish it on my own 2 feet, and not in a van. Next week I'll go for another long run at some crazy hour of the morning, and I'll give it all I have, which actually, when I think about it, is quite a lot.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Carrot Pancakes


Most of the time we have simple, quick breakfasts, but on Sundays I try to do something more special. I just got the book, Everyday Happy Herbivore, by Lindsay S. Nixon, and I have to say, it's my favorite of the moment. It's beautiful for starters, with lots and lots of color pictures. The recipes are quick and simple to make, and everything is fat-free or low-fat, so I don't have to figure out how to remove fats and oils from the recipes. Oh, happy day! Lindsay's original recipe for Carrot Cake Pancakes is in the book. Buy it for all the goodness you'll find packed inside.


Here's my version. I love how the edges made little ruffles. So pretty, and extra good with added nuts and raisins.


Carrot Pancakes
(Makes about 15 small 1/4 cup pancakes. Rick ate half of them, I ate 2, and the rest will be good cold for snacks, and also reheat well in the toaster.)

Dry:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 T baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

Wet:
2 cups of your favorite non-milk
1 1/2 cups water
3 T maple syrup
1 cup grated carrots

Stir dry ingredients together. Whisk in wet ingredients. Let the batter sit for about 10 minutes, and add a little more water if it's too thick. Cook in a non-stick pan over medium heat. These are great with maple syrup, but try them with applesauce or fruit too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

One Good Reason

It's Meatless Monday again, and time for another good reason to go vegan.

Visit the Happy Cow website.
Today's One Good Reason (to go vegan)...
Apps! Not as in appetizers (which is another good reason in itself), but apps for your phone. These can be a big help when you're traveling, or if you live in a city that's even a little bit veg-friendly. They can also put good recipes instantly in the palm of your hand. And because I rarely spend money on apps, all of these are free!

If you're just setting out on the plant-based path, try the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart app from PCRM. I downloaded it just to see what they were up to, and from the looks of it, there are some easy, yummy recipes there to help get you going.

I loved using the Happy Cow app when we were traveling recently. In Seattle we were surrounded by vegetarian and vegan restaurants. What a fun change from Taos, where Happy Cow just goes, Huh? Oh how I wish we had just one good veggie place here... and no, I'm not the one to open it.

Urban Spoon is similar to Happy Cow, but lists restaurants of all kinds, not only vegan. It could be useful when looking for a place for all different kinds of eaters to gather together.

Vegan Steven looks really cute, so I downloaded it the other day, but I can't really comment on how good it is. Of course it found nothing in Taos, but I'll try it next time I head out of town.

For cooking, well, I often refer to the recipes page here on my blog, which comes up in a nice, easy to read format on my phone. I also like Epicurious for when I want to make something new. Just ask it for vegan recipes, and away you go. And I just got the VeganYumYum app, which is simple and easy to navigate, with the recipes all listed alphabetically on the home page, and then you get nice pictures and recipe details from there. If I ever create an app for my own recipes, I want it to look like this one.

Have a great week, and whatever you eat, add some greens to the mix!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eggless Salad


I thought I posted this recipe some time back, but I can't find it. Oh well! It's good enough to make over and over again, and it changes a little bit every time I make it. This time it was for our little Father's Day picnic by the Rio Grande. Rick, the resident dad/grandpa around here, requested eggless salad sandwiches, and since I'm cooking with so little oil and fat these days, I didn't mind going for a touch of mayo on a special day. Little man Jacob liked the "sammies" too.


Eggless Salad
1 pkg extra firm tofu (organic, non GMO)
chopped dill pickles
chopped celery
grated carrots
Vegenaise, or other vegan mayo
dijon mustard
paprika and/or turmeric
salt and pepper


Place the block of tofu in a clean dishtowel and squeeze as much water out of it as possible.



Crumble the tofu into a large bowl. Stir in the pickles, celery, and carrots. Add mayo and mustard in any proportions you like. I go light on the mayo and heavy on the mustard. Add paprika and/or turmeric for color and subtle flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste. Just like "regular" egg salad, this version is great in a sandwich, rolled up in a crunchy lettuce leaf, or as a spread on crackers.

Monday, June 18, 2012

One Good Reason

Happy Meatless Monday! I'm still high on a weekend filled with good food, and good fun, including my first ever 5K.


It was a lot of fun, and left me even more excited about the half marathon I'll run with my daughter in September. The 5K run was a fundraiser for local cancer patients, to help provide services and assistance for people during treatment. I liked the idea of helping actual people, and I also liked having the opportunity to sport my snazzy No Meat Athlete t-shirt.


It's no surprise that it was the only one like it there. But who knows - maybe it made a few people wonder. And when we wonder, we learn, which leads me to this week's...

One Good Reason (to go vegan)

According to PCRM, vegetarians are 40% less likely to get cancer than meat-eaters are. Since we know that meat and dairy products contribute to many forms of cancer, it makes sense that vegans fare even better than vegetarians, who usually consume a fair amount of dairy. I'd sure rather prevent disease than try to cure it! Imagine a world where we all took such good care of ourselves that we didn't get sick. Then we could run for other things, like health and happiness, and the joy of feeling good in our skin. I'd like that a lot. Meanwhile, go vegan, and you too can wear a shirt like mine!


Learn more at PCRM: http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=248
And see more pictures of my big 5K at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151782863054460.493188.732039459&type=3&l=17ad483a40

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Good Reason

Happy Meatless Monday! I made this just for you...


Want One Good Reason to go vegan? How about dessert? Because vegan treats are made without butter or other animal products, they contain zero cholesterol, much more nutrition, and far less guilt. These Chocolate Mousse Tarts are a combination of two recipes. The shells are adapted from a recipe in Where Women Cook magazine (March April May 2012), for Raspberry Lemon Creme Tarts, and the filling is from a Chocolate Ganache Pie recipe in The 30-Minute Vegan. They're great to make in hot weather, because there's no baking! This is a super healthy, semi-raw dessert that's really easy to make, but looks fancy enough to impress your favorite people.

Chocolate Mousse Tarts

Shells:
1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked for 30 minutes or longer
1 cup pitted dates

Cut the dates in half, to be sure they're all really pitted, and toss them into the food processor with the soaked, drained, and rinsed mac nuts. You can substitute almonds, walnuts, or other favorite nuts for the macadamias if you like.

Buzz up the dates and nuts until you have a slightly chunky paste that holds together. Add a little water as you blend if necessary.

If the the dough is too sticky to work with, refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Shape the shells by placing tablespoon-size balls of dough in a mini-muffin tin, and pressing out the center to form little bowls. (Any kind of rounded handle will help with the shaping. I used the pestle part of my mortar and pestle.) Clean up the edges. Place the muffin tin in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, and then remove the tart shells gently with a knife. Refrigerate till ready to use.

Chocolate Mousse Filling:
1 (9 ounce) bag vegan bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Sunspire)
1 package silken tofu (organic, non-GMO!)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 T vanilla (Oooh! Or maybe orange or mint extract!)
1/8 tsp sea salt

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, taking care not to get any water in it, or it might "break."
Blend all other filling ingredients in food processor. Add melted chocolate and blend until smooth. Chill for an hour or more, until it sets up a bit.

You can fill the tart shells with the chocolate using a spoon, or with a pastry bag for a fancy decorative swirl. Top with berries and fresh mint if you have them, and keep refrigerated until it's time to serve them. These are best eaten the day you make them, but they hold up well overnight, if for some reason they aren't all devoured.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vegan Running


I had my best run ever yesterday. Ever. It felt like I was finally starting to get it, like there's actually some hope that I'll be able to make it through that half marathon, and beyond, with a smile on my face. I'm not sure why it happened, but there are a couple of factors that might explain it.

One is that I'm training at 7,000 feet in elevation, and have been doing it since February. It's about time something started to click into place. The other is something I read about Stu Mittleman on the No Meat Athlete website, where he explains his theory about using fat as fuel, rather than sugar. It made sense to me, since I still have some fat I want to part with. I'm all fueled up and ready to go!

Normally I have a nice healthy fruit-and-greens smoothie before a run. I always start off fine, but after about 3 miles I'm dragging and can barely pick up my feet. 30 second intervals of running and walking have helped, but it still wasn't right.

Yesterday morning I headed out with only a glass of water in me, for good hydration right from the start. I started slow, as recommended by Mittleman, and kept the pace nice and easy, so I could still talk - even though that meant talking to myself, just to make sure I could do it. I set my interval timer (the one on my phone, since my other one bit the dust last week), and started my 30/30 run/walk. What was different right from the start was where I'm usually waiting for the run segments to be over, today I was stretching them to a whole minute. I kind of wanted to go even longer with the running, keeping the 30 second walk breaks the same, but I made myself quit at a minute so I wouldn't burn out before the end of my 3 miles. The next surprise was when I got to the last half mile, and I was still going strong. I got home feeling terrific for a change, rather than wanting to fall to the floor gasping for breath.

So was it the slower speed that kept me steady, and actually made for a faster overall time? Was it the fat burning instead of sugar burning? Maybe both, or maybe a lucky fluke of cosmic alignment. Whatever it was, I'm encouraged, and I intend to investigate further. Now that I know how good running can feel, I want more!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tofu Feta - It's Greek to Me


When you kick dairy out of your diet, most people say the hardest thing to give up is cheese. It sure was for me, but I can say in all honesty that the only time I really miss it is when I'm under a lot of stress. It makes sense, doesn't it, that I'd crave the soothing opiates found in cheese, in times of turmoil? Fortunately, turmoil is a pretty rare thing in my life, and I don't give in to the cheese urge even then, because I know how crappy it would really make me feel.

I have a friend who's easing herself off cheese, and says the only kind she eats now is feta. Just a sprinkle on her salads and such. To encourage her - and you - to take the next step, I have a wonderful recipe for Tofu Feta to share with you today. It's adapted from a recipe in the June 2012 VegNews magazine, which I subscribe to and adore. And of course, because I can't help myself, I've made some changes. Sorry VegNews, but I think mine is just a little bit better.

Tofu Feta (ToFeta?)
1 package extra firm tofu (always organic non-GMO)
2 cups water
juice of 2 lemons, or about 1/4 cup
1 T sea salt
1 T dry basil
1 T dry oregano
2 T nutritional yeast

Press the tofu to remove most of the water. This is kind of optional, but I like to do it because it gives the tofu more "sponge space" to soak up the the seasonings. Pressing tofu is easy. Just wrap the whole block in a clean dish towel, place it on a plate, and put a heavy weight on top of it for 15 minutes or so. I use my big cast iron frying pan as a weight.


Cut the pressed tofu into small cubes.

Place everything but the tofu in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Add the tofu cubes, turn the heat down to med-low, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Chill the tofu and juice in the fridge for 8 hours or more. The longer the better. But if you're in a rush, it will still taste good with a shorter soak time.

Try some ToFeta on a nice Greek Salad, like we did for lunch today. I'll be doing this again soon, with maybe a little spanakopita on the side. You'll need that recipe too!

Monday, June 4, 2012

One Good Reason

Thank you, Animal Voices Radio Show, for the sweet photo.
Happy Meatless Monday!
I'm back today with another installment of One Good Reason. This time I'm talking about milk. A lot of people don't eat meat, but feel dairy is OK. I used to be one of them. I thought dairy was the lesser of the animal foods evils, but there's a lot of evidence proving that dairy, and particularly cheese, is the bigger bad bad guy, hiding behind a white mustache. Marketing can be a very powerful tool, and the dairy marketing people have had us all convinced, for a very long time, that milk does a body good.

The truth is, cow's milk does a baby cow's body good, but only until the baby cow is grown up.  Have you ever seen adult cows drinking milk? No way. Or a baby cow drinking goat or whale or human milk? Bet not. Humans are the only species to drink other species' milk, and just because we can, doesn't mean we should. Think of milk as concentrated, liquid meat, packed full of saturated fat and cholesterol. Cheese is even more concentrated, and as I've mentioned in previous posts, literally addictive, because the casein in milk contains honest-to-goodness opiates. Oh, how I used to love cheese. It's powerful stuff!

Then there's the calcium myth. Get this - the countries that consume the most dairy and meat also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Really. That's because animal products, including milk, create an acid system in our bodies, rather than alkaline. In order to balance out the excess acid, calcium is leached from our bones. Drinking milk and eating cheese actually do our bones more harm than good, but still the marketing goes on...

The good new is it's really easy to get all the calcium we need from plant sources like leafy greens, sesame seeds, almonds, broccoli, beans, figs, molasses, and many, many more. Don't take my word for any of this! Put down that hunk of cheddar (orange cheese? really?) and head over to Not Milk.com, where you'll find buckets of information on health, the dairy industry, and studies to back it all up.

When you're finished, you can easily whip up a batch of Nut Milk to go with your afternoon cookie break. Here's to your good health! Cheers!