Winter Foods for Healthy Running

Note: The following post was originally written for Eugene Marathon as I am a 2017 Ambassador for the race organization (Use code “AMB2017WB” when registering for the Half or Full to save money!).

Depending on where you live, winter training can be challenging. Morning runners may be lacing up before work which could mean pre-sunrise runs in the finger-numbing cold which could very well limit the kind of workout that realistically takes place: really fast runs because your body is dying to warm up or rather slower runs because it’s sub-40 and you are out there before the sun has woken up. Evening runners can’t catch a break either; it might be a tad warmer than in the morning, but probably not by much. No matter your struggle though, you choose to train throughout this season because you are a force to be reckoned with; because you don’t back down when it gets tough; because…you are a runner. And you already registered for Eugene 2017. (Right? Right??)

winter

Training outdoors during the winter months takes a lot of will and a lot of energy, but it should also include some cautionary steps. Generally, people get sick more often during the winter months and because training for a half or a full marathon can take quite a toll on the body, it is ever-important to make sure you are taking the proper steps to make sure you are handling winter training well. Of course, this means the common sense stuff such as wearing gloves and hats if necessary and certainly running in long sleeves and perhaps a jacket if it’s raining, but what is also very important to not forget is that the food you eat during this time is more than just fuel for the furnace, but fuel for recovery and nourishment as well.

erad2

You can’t train if you can’t train so the most important goal for every runner no matter the season should be to remain healthy. “Healthy” can mean injury-free, but it can also mean free of sickness and with both of these definitions, proper nutrition is important. Eating healthily is not something that comes easy for many people during the winter season so thinking about ways to help you stay on top of your nutrition game can be helpful. One way to do this is to make a list of winter foods local to this area and keep it on your fridge or wherever you will see it often. When you are going grocery shopping or looking for what to make for dinner, play around with a couple of those foods and reap the benefits of the nutrition of the seasonable fruit or vegetable. Below is a short list of only some of the foods that are in season or still in season in the Pacific Northwest area during some or all of the winter months. As you’ll see, it’ll be rather difficult to sustain yourself on only these foods, so remember that this is just a way to get you to include healthy, in-season produce into your diet.

erad6

Beets (and beet greens)          Brussels sprouts

Carrots                                     Cabbage

Chard                                       Collard greens

Cranberries                               Kale

Leeks                                       Mushrooms

Mustard greens                          Potatoes

Shallots                                     Spinach

Winter squash                           Turnips

Watercress

“Winter foods” can also mean foods that one generally eats when the weather gets colder, a.k.a. comfort foods. One of the common realities of winter-eating, for many, is eating foods that make us feel full and warm. Let’s face it: watercress and kale just won’t cut it and that’s perfectly okay. It doesn’t mean that watercress and kale can’t be added to foods that we do love to eat in the winter, such as chili, vegetarian or otherwise. Great idea huh? Or add some of these and other ingredients into a hot, easy-to-make stir fry with some potatoes or brown rice. Talk about a filling meal that would provide a ton of nourishment and nutrients! Adding a ton of vegetables to your soups and even some seeds or nuts (cashews would be great!) is another easy way to make sure you are getting the extra nutrients you need when training such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Potassium, Magnesium, and more.

erad5  erad8

My go-to winter foods that are not in the produce aisle include oatmeal, brown rice, mashed potatoes, and peanut butter and jam sandwiches. And how would I “nutritionize” these dishes even more? Adding kale or spinach to the brown rice or mashed potatoes is simple enough. Adding hemp hearts or ground flax seeds to oatmeal is a great way to boost its nutrition profile, but so is adding a few leaves of spinach if you’re up to it. Savory oatmeal, anyone?

So think about the foods you gravitate toward in the winter months and brainstorm some ways to add some vegetables, fruit, or whole grains and seeds to it to give it the nutrition kick that it and you could use during your training.

–The author is a sucker for a good peanut butter and jam sandwich and challenges all to add spinach, turmeric, and cinnamon to their next PB&J. See you in Eugene, May 5-7!

 

PS: If you have any questions about nutrition in general or nutrition with regards to training, please don’t hesitate to comment here or email me (info in About page).

 

 

Advertisements

Q&A with Dr. Michael Greger, MD-the Go-To for All Things Nutrition

His name is Dr. Michael Greger, MD. And he’s coming to Portland.

And I am thrilled.

DrG

A couple months ago, I learned that a family member had high LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol. Unfortunately, many people in this country have high cholesterol, but the cholesterol levels coupled with the family history made this more of an issue than it may be for others. I later found out that that same family member was just diagnosed with another possibly debilitating ailment, but one that, luckily, can be reversed and prevented with proper nutrition and a removal of meat (and hopefully dairy) from the diet. When I shared the news with Val, her response indicated she was reading my mind: “Watch some NutritionFacts.org videos about it and what can be done.” So we did just that and the family member was absolutely shocked at what she learned and I was shocked at how well she understood everything Dr. Greger was saying. I shouldn’t have been because I knew that his videos are so easy to follow and to grasp. I’m grateful to have a resource that is of such importance and one that my family can now utilize when they have their own questions and concerns.

As an aspiring nutritionist and with a fiancé who is studying naturopathic medicine, I look up to Dr. Greger as a kind of savior for American society. He understands the importance of nutrition as medicine and has made it his life’s work to teach others that you really are, or will become, what you eat…metaphorically, of course!

5

When I first heard about Dr. Greger, it was from Val telling me that I needed to visit the NutritionFacts.org site and now I’m telling you to do the same. But don’t stop there. Watch his nutrition videos, read his articles, binge watch YouTube recordings, and if you’re local, come meet and hear him speak in Portland on January 19th. Oh! And if you really want to educate yourself…get his new book How Not to Die and prepare to have your eyes opened.

Dr. Greger was gracious enough to answer some questions I had for him and the following screenshot is semi-proof that I’m not making these responses up!

drg2

Q&A with Dr. Michael Greger

Why did you decide to write How Not to Die?

It all started with my grandma, actually. The reversal of her end-stage heart disease with a plant-based diet is what inspired me to go to medical school, but when I got there I was shocked to find out that this whole body of evidence on reversing chronic disease with lifestyle changes—opening up arteries without drugs, without surgery—was being largely ignored by mainstream medicine. And so if the cure to our #1 killer could get lost down the rabbit hole, what else might be buried in the medical literature that could help my patients? I made it my life’s mission to find out. That’s what led me to start NutritionFacts.org and that’s what led me to write the book.
What should people who don’t like to be overwhelmed, but want to improve their health focus on first: their food/nutrition or exercise?

 

The #1 cause of death and the #1 cause of disability is diet (with smoking at #2 and inactivity somewhere around #5), so definitely changing what we eat.

 

It is a common belief, and one that is well-supported, that MDs generally do not have adequate education in proper nutrition for maintaining a healthy diet as well as fighting various illnesses and disease. Is any of your work targeting the lack of nutrition education in our society’s most esteemed medical profession?

 

Indeed. Doctors have a severe nutrition deficiency–in education. Most doctors are just never taught the impact healthy nutrition can have on the course of illness and so they graduate without this powerful tool in their medical toolbox. There are also institutional barriers, such as time constraints and lack of reimbursement. In general, doctors simply aren’t paid for counseling people on how to take care of themselves. Of course the drug companies also play a role in influencing medical education and practice. Ask your doctor when’s the last time they were taken out to dinner by Big Broccoli.

 

Are you optimistic that the overall health of our society will improve over time and that more and more people will be knowledgeable about food and nutrition?

 

Absolutely! It’s like smoking in the ‘50s. We already had decades of science linking smoking with lung cancer, but it was ignored because smoking was normal. Most doctors smoked. The average per capita cigarette consumption was 4,000 cigarettes a year, meaning the average American smoked a half a pack a day. The American Medical Association was reassuring everyone that smoking in moderation was ok. There was this disconnect between the science and public policy. It took more than 25 years and 7,000 studies before the first Surgeon General report against smoking came out in the 60’s. Until the system changes, we have to take personal responsibility for our own health and for our family’s health. We can’t wait until society catches up to the science, because it’s a matter of life and death. But just like [with] smoking, society will eventually catch up

 

More and more books, personalities, celebrities, restaurants, and films that focus on plant-based diets and veganism are being more frequently recognized and discussed in health, nutrition, and food conversations throughout the country. Do you think this is because more people in this country are recognizing that vegetarianism and veganism are healthier diets and lifestyles for a person and for the planet or do you think such recognition is just to satisfy a new market or audience?

My hope is that the science is slowly, but surely getting out there!

 

Information about his Portland visit can be found at the NW Veg website. I’ve copy and pasted some info below. As of this posting there are only 50 spots left! Click here to reserve your spot before it’s too late. Hope to see you there!

NW VEG and Adventist Medical Center present Dr. Michael Greger with “Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating Disease with Diet” on Thursday, January 19th at 6:30pm at the Adventist Medical Center (Amphitheater), 10123 SE Market St., Portland 97216. Doors open at 6pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Is It Just About the Calories?

I got the idea for this post just the other day. There was a CNN article that focused on airlines’ options for dining tens of thousands of feet above ground and it immediately caught my attention as I was in an airport waiting to board a flight back to Portland when I came across it. I was disappointed that the article focused almost entirely on calories and not nutrients, essentially leaving the reader with the impression that low calories equal more healthy…this is not the rule of thumb.

A calorie is a unit of energy and therefore we need them. If we consume an excess of calories then sure we can run into health issues and in America where portions are way larger than they need to be, an excess is not as rare as it should be. Foods are generally covered in sauces, cheeses, or dressings that pack way more extra calories that are often unaccounted for by the common person and this is where calories can sneak up on us, but I don’t think watching every single one of those calories is how people should automatically look at food. Eating mindfully should be about looking at the ingredients and the nutritional value of the food and then making a decision ato eat it or not. I’m writing an article for Vegan Health & Fitness magazine that focuses on mindful eating and, in it, I told a shortened version of my personal experience with counting calories that I’ll briefly share here.

will2

Back in college, when Val and I were a year into our relationship and we passed the getting to know each other phase, we decided to become healthier. That phase involved us eating at the dining halls often, making brownies mixed with an extra packet of Jello pudding, making 15+ non-mini pancakes and eating them in one sitting while watching a movie on the futon, and so many other instances of poor habits. So one day, I downloaded a couple apps and made sure to enter every food into that app to track my caloric intake. Based on those numbers, I calculated how many calories I had left to eat to ensure I would not gain weight, but since I was running, I had to then consider the number of calories burned as well. There was a long period when, during a run, I would have a version of the following conversation in my head:

Okay, that’s 600 calories burned so far. So the cereal, peanut butter, and oh, let’s say the chocolate-covered raisins I snacked on, have all been burned up. If I run another X miles I can burn off the rest of lunch and be guilt-free come dinnertime.

Weight fluctuates, but one’sknowledge about food shouldn’t diminish, but only be strengthened.

Everything was a numbers game and it was all centered around losing weight which I thought was the path to health. I got down to my goal weight (for my running purposes) eventually and tried so hard to maintain it, but I’m grateful that I realized how unhealthy I had become.  I wasn’t getting sick all the time or becoming a toothpick, but I was far from well. I worried constantly about my weight and what I ate. I’m grateful that since that time, I’ve picked up habits that help me to eat and live mindfully and that all came with proper education about foods.

I learned what nutrients long-distance runners need to run well and to recover properly and then I found out what foods I can find them in. I swore off counting numbers for anything anymore so instead, I just started to make sure that I ate a varied and balanced diet (one thing, however, that I would not oppose at all if people were to start counting is their fiber intake; more fiber in the diet generally means more plant foods and healthier eating). Eventually, I found vegetarianism and then veganism a few months later and my health, wellness, and running improved quite dramatically. I’m not saying that you need to be vegan (but please do give it a shot and find resources to help you if you do consider it!), but you do need to learn what nutrients are in your food instead of constantly focusing on and worrying about calories as the road to health.

I was so focused on reducing calories and not realizing that food is fuel. It became less about the low calorie, weight-loss mentality and more about the balanced and mindful eating. If I want to enjoy a pizza with Val or friends, then I’m going to do that and I’m going to graciously accept that food as fuel for my body and my running.

Let’s look at a couple examples of food comparisons to give a glimpse as to what I mean:

1 cup of Frosted Flakes                 1 cup of oatmeal/rolled oats

Approx. 150 calories                         Approx. 150-160 calories

Pretty similar in calories so it’s okay to eat either, right? Not so much. Which is the most nutrient-dense food? That’s right: oatmeal. “Nutrient-dense” means that for the number of calories, there’s a great amount of nutrients in that food. So for oats, you’re looking at a good amount of manganese, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, zinc, protein, and many, many other nutrients. For Frosted Flakes and most other cereals, you’re going to find preservatives to keep that cereal on the shelf for a longer period of time, and refined carbohydrates that turn right into sugar.  Plus, there are too many preservatives in those ingredients, but most often there is a higher amount of sodium and sugar, and a lower amount of protein and potassium in cereals than in their whole grain forms and this is the case with Frosted Flakes.

Another example.

1 oz of pretzels                            1 oz of almonds

Calories: approx. 110                      Calories: approx. 160

Pretzels get the award for lower calories, but does that mean they are healthier? Not by a long shot. Hard pretzels are way high in sodium and raw almonds contain none. Now, sodium is fine and necessary but the standard American diet has plenty of sodium in it so worrying about where to get sodium is not necessary.  Which has more potassium (an electrolyte that the standard American is generally quite deficient in)? Almonds. Protein is something that most people don’t need to worry about so I won’t get into that. I also won’t go into detail about micronutrients of each except to say that almonds easily beat out pretzels when it comes to essential nutrients such as Vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, biotin, and many others. Most nutrient-dense food? Almonds win. Research this in more detail for yourself.

I purposefully didn’t provide much detail as far as nutrients in each food, but that is so that you can go and do your own research to either prove me wrong or to find out what other foods may be healthier for you. I had to do this because nobody was able to teach it to me and I’ve been benefitting so much from the process. We should each be building a relationship with food and, like all relationships, that process involves learning about the other. Take the time to learn about your food and the nutrients in your food. Just as many people want to find a partner in life who makes them a better person, so to should the food you eat make you a better, healthier you.

I’d love to read all kinds of comments on this topic. Want to prove me wront or provide an argument? Let’s talk! Want to share your story or thoughts? Let’s talk!

Happy Eating!

3 Reasons Why Potatoes Are My Go-To Food Before a Race

 

 

Everyone has staples in their food life. You know…foods that you can just never get tired of or also known as your favorite foods.

Growing up, my favorite food probably flip-flopped between chicken fingers and peanut butter and jelly. Obviously, one of these foods has been nixed off of my food list, but good ol’ PB&J has remained true to its deliciousness throughout the years. Sure, I’ve chosen to make it a bit more sophisticated than what I used to eat but I never stray from calling it a PB&J. Here’s a quick look at my relationship with this classic sandwich throughout my life:

–Jif peanut butter and grape jelly on white bread

–Jif peanut butter and grape jelly on whole wheat bread

–Jif peanut butter and strawberry jam on whole wheat bread (high school; sometimes peanut butter and banana)

–Natural peanut butter and strawberry preserves on Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain bread (early college)

PAUSE……………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………Okay, I’m back. Had to have me some PB&J on a couple rice cakes…go figure! And continuing…

–Natural peanut butter or almond butter and strawberry preserves on sprouted grain bread with spinach leaves in the middle (started mid-late college)

–Organic nut butter and strawberry preserves on gluten-free New Cascadia (Thank you, Portland!) bread

Whew! Yeah. It’s been quite a ride.

But while PB&J is one of my favorite foods and I can probably eat it for every meal of the day for quite a while before ever questioning my food boredom, there is one food in particular that ever since college, I’ve established a tradition with…

12

The 3 reasons why Potatoes are my go-to dinner the night before a race:

no1  My body digests them easily. I can never find a simple answer for whether a not a potato is a simple-carbohydrate source or one for complex-carbs. Since boiled potatoes have a higher glycemic index (about 80-85), they are very quick to become glucose and ready to be used as energy for your body. Because of this, eating them for dinner allows my body to easily digest them, and has that glucose build-up all ready for my race in the morning. For this reason, I can get away with starting the race fasted and not have to take in any fuel until at least 45 minutes into the race. The difference I feel when I’ve eaten potatoes for dinner and have a hard run or race the next morning is so noticeable compared to when I eat other typical dinner foods for me such as legumes or veggie stir-fry type dishes. Potatoes haven’t led to an upset stomach once in all the years of my keeping to this tradition!medals

Some medals to represent some of the races I’ve run since being in Portland and I ate potatoes the night before each one.

no2The nutrition. Potatoes are an incredible source of potassium which is an electrolyte that is very much needed when running. One medium sized potato has about 900mg or about 25% of the recommended daily intake of potassium. Potatoes are also very high in B6 which is important for heme production in red blood cells and since hemoglobin is important for oxygen circulation, runners should make heme-rich plant foods their best friends.  Potatoes are also a good source of both types of fiber so this can help with digestion and flushing out waste (insoluble) before the gun goes off as well as keeping you full longer (soluble).

no3I love them. Even with all the proper nutrition and digestibility they have, if I didn’t like potatoes, I would just find a new food that fits the bill. But, boiled, mashed, sweet, white, red, yammy, French and fried (gasp!…very much in moderation),  breakfast, lunch, or dinner…it does not matter to me–potatoes will always be my go-to food for comfort, taste, nutrition, and running.

13

Cheesey Potatoes from Portobello Trattoria in Portland.

What is your go-to food before a race–either dinner the night before or the morning food you always have hours before toeing the line? Why is that the food you stick with or do you keep things flexible?  Oh and most importantly…what’s your favorite way to eat potatoes?

Reference:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=48

Weekend of Running and Food

This weekend flew by, but it went really really well so it wasn’t such a bad thing. It was a very intense weekend for my running and my body, yet I feel so rested. I guess I’m doing a great thing and keeping well in my life…achieving wellness and all that. With happy food and great running, I’m not surprised I feel so good after this weekend!

For starters, my running has been coming along quite nicely. Since I got the nod from Betsy’s Best Bar None! that they’ll sponsor the Foot Traffic Holiday 5k here in Portland (I decided I didn’t have enough time to properly train for a desired finish at the half marathon distance), I’ve been putting in the necessary training to get and improve the speed in my legs after what was about 3 weeks of running as if I was going into my downtime of running; I was maybe getting out every other day and the mileage and pacing wasn’t really a concern to me. But on Friday I got to see that 3 weeks of focused training has been paying off. I ran 400 and 200 repeats on Duniway Track near downtown Portland and ran splits that I haven’t seen in years. Long-distance training takes the speed out of your legs so I’ve never had to worry too much about my 400m time, but that changes when running the 5k distance. Knowing that my speed is improving is a huge motivator and confidence booster heading into the final week before the race.

Betsy’s Best has been a great partner. They’re really wonderful people at B3N!

Saturday’s run was a slower 11 miles. I wanted to stay at a moderate pace that I can run for a very long time. They say you should run slow to run fast. They also say you should run faster for a longer distance to run fast at the shorter distance, so I’ve been mixing the two philosophies into my training. Also…I ran with headphones in which I never do anymore, but was feeling some mellow music to help with my slower pace.

16   15

The view from near Pittock Mansion in Portland is stunning, but difficult to capture with an iPhone camera on a very cloudy and wet day. The hill on the right is just one of many on this route I ran. I had to do a couple repeat climbs and descents on each one. The burn from the constant climbing felt oh so good!

And today’s (Sunday) tempo run was switched with a run that I can ownly describe as, “Run a very quick training pace for 4 miles to build up the lactic acid and then fight through that lactic acid for the remaining 4 miles.” I guess that’s kind of like a lactate threshold run, but not exactly. Similar purpose though. The idea was, as explained, to simulate the lactate acid build-up that will occur in the 5k, but to get my body and mind used to fighting through the burning sensation until I cross that finish line. If you are used to stopping when the pain starts to set in or if you don’t run long or fast enough to where that sensation starts to occur, just imagine the PR (personal record/best) you can set if you did include some  workouts that lead to this feeling into your training!

So that was the running…This weekend was also a good one for food.

8911

I decided to make oat bars Saturday morning. I didn’t run my long run in the morning and instead used these oat bars to fuel me for an afternoon run. They digested so well and were so delicious. Val agreed so I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post.

12

When you are prepping acorn squash for the oven and a heart appears, you know they’re going to be good…and you know you have to snap a pic!

3

Chia seed pudding!!! Superfood is right. Chia seeds are one of the best ways to get protein for all persons, but especially as a plant-based/vegan eater. Just 3 tablespoons of chia seeds is already 7 grams of protein. Plus,  chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

456

When the Portland Timbers are playing in the MLS Cup final and you get an invite from friends you haven’t seen in months, you bring a dish. But you don’t bring just any dish. You bring a dish with food on it. I just laughed at that one…womp womp. No, but really. We got a text invite to head over to friends and watch the Timbers play and I knew it was about time to make the chocolate poundcake I’ve been wanting to make. This wasn’t from scratch so I won’t post the recipe, but it was dairy-free, gluten free, soy free, and tasty-full, so I’m sharing with you. Well, I’m sharing the pics. If I could share the cake I would but Val and I did quite a number on it by ourselves! Yep. We love our desserts.

Well that’s all folks! How was your weekend? What are your fitness goals and how are you coming along in reaching or maintaining them?  I’d love to hear what you are all up to!

Happy Running!

Pumpkin & Chickpea Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

10

1 cup rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup pumpkin purée
3/4 cup chickpeas
1 1/2 tablespoon mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Foods)
1/2 tablespoon fig jam
1 Teaspoon of chia seeds
1 Teaspoon of maple syrup
Splash of cashew milk


Blend everything but the oats and chocolate chips. Pour (or spoon out) the mixture into the bowl of oats and chocolate chips. Mix together and form into oat bar forms or oat balls. Bake* at 375 for about 12 minutes then let cool for a couple minutes and enjoy.

*You could also totally eat these raw. Nix the baking and let them sit in the fridge to keep their form and enjoy at least after an hour (probably) has passed.

Chia Seed Pudding

1

Chia seeds & nondairy milk (I used cashew this time around)

Pour chia seeds in a bowl. Pour nondairy milk so that milk is just a bit over the chia seeds. Let soak for a few hours or overnight. Thoroughly enjoy when chia seeds have become soaked and gelatinous. 

Top with banana slices, cinnamon, cacao nibs, berries, or whatever else you think would make this super healthy and delicious food an even healthier and delicious food!

No Topic, Just Talk

Growing up, my mom rarely had nothing to do. It may have seemed, at times, that she had free time, but watching TV, playing a board game, or just talking, always came at the expense of her other work not getting done. She rarely brought work home with her, though. The work she may have done at home always came from other voluntary roles she held. This was her my entire life and she still juggles 10 different things at once. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

The past few weeks have been super busy for me. Here’s a quick rundown, with the help of pictures (lots of pictures), of what’s been taking over my life recently…

24

It’s a blur how it happened, but I gained a small a role in planning the Fitness Stage at this year’s Portland VegFest taking place next month. I’ll be demoing dynamic stretching on the fitness stage as well as speaking as part of a Q&A panel. When I’m not on the fitness stage, you will be able to find me at a booth talking about running and my blog.

nma

I will also be representing No Meat Athlete at VegFest with merchandise for sale!

TT5K

Tofurky Trot 5k. Yes. Tofurky. Through the people I know from NW Veg and VegFest and, I presume, my passion for running, I’ve become a volunteer organizer for this year’s Tofurky Trot 5k to be held on Thanksgiving morning here in Portland.

I will be giving a NW Veg presentation at a putluck dinner at the end of this month which I’m really excited about, but getting pretty nervous about as well. The talk is focused on vegan nutrition for athletes and I certainly hope I can meet the expectations of people who come to eat, listen, and learn.

I’m fairly certain that I’ve e-mailed back and forth more times over the past three weeks than I have this whole year due to keeping up with this event, VegFest, and blogging commitments.

notes

My notes (and representation of my brain) lately versus Val’s notes on the right. Her thought process: Ace that 1 exam. Mine? Gotta do this. Then that. Then that. Don’t forget that. Oh, that reminds me of this. But first, that. And so on.

Next on my list of things that have been taking up my time: FOOD! Like, really good food.

donut   

Maple Pecan donut from Sweetpea Baking Company here in Portland.

28

Val’s Beet Burger from Portobello Trattoria. Best. Burger. Ever.

30  26  

Vegan Benedict from Portobello. Did somebody say, “Hollandaise?” And Paradox Potatoes from Paradox Cafe.

 9 

The best chocolate in the world. Comment below if you want the name so you can order it yourself. I’m literally not kidding when I say that this was the best chocolate I’ve ever had.

The pictures I’ve included are of food that are not quite on the super healthy side of the healthy foods spectrum. “Vegan” doesn’t mean healthy. There is still a lot of work involved in my lifestyle and diet of choice. But I do have a sweet tooth and I’m sharing my life with a partner who has one as well. Actually, she’s probably got at least 20 sweet teeth if we’re being honest. And since we’re being honest, I’ve definitely got more than just one as well. So yes, I’ve included these pictures because they were delicious meals and treats from the past week that I have no shame in saying I’ve eaten. I run a lot and I eat very healthily a huge majority of the time. Quinoa or brown rice, raw or roasted vegetables, fruit (bananas) galore…That’s every day. So Val and I like to enjoy the weekend treats or go out for ice cream one evening.

As of now, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from eating the foods that satisfies them unless it’s really not good for your overall health. I rather focus on promoting mindful eating habits. One of those habits is listening to your body and reflecting on what you’re eating. If in doing both of those things, you want to still go ahead and enjoy your donut or coffeecake or ice cream, then go ahead! Because when you put that much thought into what you’re eating, you’re probably going to make sure you make great food choices for the rest of the day.

Eat, Run, and Done. stuff which involves running…but also more food.

4041

Had another 5k this past Sunday. It was my third consecutive racing weekend and my second consecutive weekend 5k. In all likelihood I would have set another 5k pr if not for the leading motorbike not knowing when to turn on the out-and-back course, and if not for the train that caused the lead pack to stop for about 2 1/2-3 minutes. during the race. I can’t catch a break between that happening and volunteers sending me the wrong way at the previous 5k. It’s okay though. I know I’m poised for a big 5k pr and I’m hoping it will come soon!

1113 

Skout Organic is a Portland-based bar that is without animal products and, obviously, organic. I thoroughly enjoyed this cherry vanilla bar although I’ve never been one for cherries in my food. It’s under 200 calories so is great for an on-the-go snack! I always make sure I have fruit or veggies with me in most situations, but I’ll grab a bar if I’m feeling actual hunger, but still need to be on the move. Skout also has an Apple Cinnamon bar that is super tasty. Bobo’s and Nii Bars are on my list as well, but I certainly don’t mind mixing it up with Skout Organic. Their trailpaks are awesome too!

14    

Opening up the door to my floor and seeing this was just magical. Two of those boxes are a donation for an event, but man-oh-man…I could never tire of eating what’s inside these boxes.

 19  7

That’s right.It’s raining Pacific Superfood Snacks kale chips like crazy at our place! Val and I love these chips. When we have them–which has been very often lately–she packs at least half a container each day for her snack when at school. I brought some of their Lava Rock Sriracha (my favorite) with me last night to snack on after I finished with a dinner-time engagement. I wasn’t sure if I a meal would be provided where I was volunteering my time, and I knew that I wanted to bring a healthy, nutritious, and tasty snack with me that wasn’t a food bar this time. Our neighbor’s two year old, Echo, also loves kale chips lately and I believe it was Pacific Snacks that served as his introduction to this delicious healthy food.

Lastly, applying for college. 

NCNM

As of 5 years at Rutgers University wasn’t enough, I’ve been taking classes at a community college to be eligible for the big goal. That goal: To be admitted into the National College of Natural Medicine’s Master’s of Science in Nutrition (MScN) program. I’m stoked today because I finally submitted my application to the program. It hasn’t been an easy road and it’s not over yet. I had to take two summer classes (one of which was for 5 hours on Saturday mornings), and I’m still taking a class two evenings a week until 9:30 at night. But my dream is to be a nutritionist and be in the position to achieve what I want to achieve in life. If I can be a good parent and partner, run, and talk about nutrition and food all day for a living, I will be forever happy…I assume. This is me talking in the present time of course so, who knows?

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll be sure to get some informative and pertinent posts published this week that aren’t just about what’s happening in my life!

Any comments and questions? You know where to leave ’em!

Nighttime snackin’

Okay. Time to be real here. I love eating at night. Like night, night. As in the time everyone says not to eat after, so like 9pm and later night. It’s a semi-serious problem that Val helps keep in check except not really because she is in bed by 9 and I’m left to fend for myself against the demons that are the ice cream, crackers, bars, and tofu that are haunting me from the kitchen. Yes, you read that right. I’ll even eat tofu (with ketchup, of course) as a late night snack. And I don’t mean some delectable tofu scramble. I strictly mean a sliced block of tofu.

Not this                                                       This (minus veggies)

Long gone are the days when I could get away with eating a bowl (okay, two) of cereal while in bed watching a movie at 11 at night, only to fall asleep 15 minutes later. There was rarely a night when I wouldn’t grab a nighttime snack. Crackers, cereal (my top choice), eggs (before I nixed animal products), pretzels. You name the snack, and it probably went down the hatch at some point in my high school years. My mom used to call me her little mouse in the kitchen, because my parents would hear me going through bags and cabinets while they were in the other room watching TV. I wasn’t mindful then; I was just ravenous and able to eat basically whatever I wanted. Practicing soccer (on two teams for many years) or running track nearly every day really helped keep me in shape and I didn’t have to worry too much about what I was eating. But then…college.

I still ran. I worked out. But it didn’t matter. I couldn’t eat the way I used to and get away without seeing the gain. After Val and I got more comfortable with each other, the eating became more comfortable as well. Wait..10pm isn’t a great time to make brownies? Well, we knew that too but we just didn’t care. And to show just how much we didn’t care, we threw a packet of jello chocolate pudding mix in there because chocolate brownies with chocolate chips is obviously not enough chocolate.

 

When watching movies late at night, Val and I would snack on bags of fruit snacks and vienna fingers (at least two each) without a care in the world. Now, though, I get scolded when I’m caught with some sliced apple or a carrot stick! She’s right because even these healthier snacks don’t negate the late hour at which they’re eaten. Except that eating before bed, when you’re actually hungry, can sometimes help you sleep better and not toss and turn as much. So, if you’re going to snack at night, be smart or mindful about it. Potato chips or sugary sweets? Not smart. Veggie/fruit slices (Heck! Tofu, even.) Smart.

A great choice to satisfy those late night hunger (or boredom) pangs is to snack on some kale chips. Pacific Superfood Snacks makes the best kale chips Val and I have ever had, and we have had many, many kale chips. These kale chips are locally made, organic (huge plus), and low-calorie. Also, PSS has so many flavors to choose from, all of which will make your mouth water. Kale is a super great source of Vitamins C, A, and K and what’s great is that they still keep these and many other nutrients even when they are dehydrated and made into kale chips. I’ll admit they’re not low in sodium, but you shouldn’t be eating an entire container anyway. Save some for the next night. You won’t regret it.

 

This picture was taken after a run, and while I could eat all of them in a fit of postrun hunger craze, I had to save some for nighttime!

Here’s a confession: since Val has been in Germany visiting her best friend, I have probably snacked at least every night! It’s not even like I do it consciously or in spite of her not being her to make better choices. I just resort to the habit I’ve always had. That, and I’m just going to bed way later than usual and, let’s face it, everything in the pantry and fridge looks good at 11 at night. Throw a stalk of celery on my plate and you would think I haven’t eaten in days. That’s actually been my one of my snacks the past few nights. And kale chips.

Other snacks have included half of a Bobo’s Oat Bar, a few carrot sticks, a GoMacro mini bar, tofu with ketchup and mustard, and some sprouted watermelon seeds. I think that about covers it.

Nighttime snackin’ is one of those things where it’s so darn good that it can actually be bad. But don’t get stressed out IF you have a difficult time breaking the habit. Instead, be smart and choosy about what you are taking out of the fridge or pantry. Let go of the Frosted Flakes…and the Lays. Good. Grab something else. When you pause and become mindful about it, you will typically have an easier time choosing what is healthier or perhaps even turning off the kitchen light and not looking back. What could help is keeping a whiteboard on your fridge or some large post-its on your cabinet doors with helpful messages such as “Be Mindful” or “Make good choices.”

Oh metabolism…why do you age so quickly? Why can’t you just stay young forever so we can have one less thing on our proverbial plate and put one more thing on our actual plate? But alas…metabolisms just don’t work like that. So it’s up to us to be smarter as our metabolisms get older.

Be mindful. Eat (snack) healthy.