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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

 

 

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Beanfields Recipe #2: Roasted Bell Pepper and Eggplant Dip!

Who doesn’t love a good dip? I absolutely love hummus, but I don’t want to eat hummus all the time. So I decided to create this Beanfields Snacks recipe for a dip that I know you’ll enjoy! It’s vegan and gluten-free and it can be used as a spread or, as I can attest to, be eaten straight out of the bowl!  And do you see those ingredients? It’s completely guilt-free and full of nutrients! That’s what I call Food As Medicine.

bf2

Nutrients of this recipe (only some!):

Bell peppers – Vitamin C (157% in 1 cup!), B6, Vitamin A

Eggplant- Not an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but a source nonetheless. Instead, though, eggplant provides us with nasunin, a potent antioxidant compound that protects cell membranes from damage.

Chickpeas- Manganese, Folate, Copper, Fiber, Phosphorus, Protein, Iron, Zinc

Health Benefits: In short, this recipe is packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to keep us well. Don’t know what phytonutrients are? Think again. I’m sure you’ve heard of  carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols before. Well, this recipe is full of phytonutrients that work to keep our body healthy and functioning properly. I won’t make specific health claims, but I recommend that if you are really curious about them, visit WHFoods.com to research some of the foods in this recipe and read about the numerous health benefits and you can follow up with the studies that support the claims.

Admittedly, as I’m learning as a nutrition student, it is best to eat bell peppers and many other vegetables without exposing them to heat (i.e. raw) due to the loss of some nutrients, but who says both can’t be done? I mean, what’s to stop you from enjoying this dip with slices of bell pepper, carrots, or celery? So, go ahead and have fun making this dip and eating it too!

ROASTED BELL PEPPER & EGGPLANT DIP

Ingredients

Red bell pepper- 1 medium

Eggplant- ½ medium

Chickpeas- 1 cup

Beanfields Jalapeno chips- ¼ cup crushed

Nutritional yeast- 1tbsp (optional)

Garlic- 1-2 cloves

Onion- ½ onion, sautéed

Olive oil- 4 tbsp (1/4 cup)

Water- 2-3 tbsp

Salt- ¼ teaspoon (more or less to taste)

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Coat roasting dish with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Slice bell pepper and eggplant and coat with oil using an oil brush. Place on roasting dish and roast in oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Pour and spread teaspoon of olive oil on sauté or frying pan and heat skillet on low heat.
  5. Chop onion and garlic and sauté in skillet on medium heat until almost fully cooked (approx. 5 minutes).
  6. Add chickpeas to pan for another 3-5 minutes. Add another teaspoon of olive oil if necessary.
  7. Take out the bell pepper and eggplant and place all ingredients in a blender, including remaining olive oil, Beanfields chips, and nutritional yeast if you are using it.
  8. Blend the ingredients on a lower mode until a proper dip texture is formed; the dip should not be too thick when in blender as it will thicken more when it sits and cools. Pour/scoop the dip into a bowl or container and place in fridge for an hour or so to cool. (This dip can also be enjoyed hot as a topping or as a side.)
  9. Enjoy however and with whatever you please!

 

Happy Eating & Cooking!

Pump(kin) Up Your Health!

 

The following blog post was written for and published on the Food As Medicine Institute (FAMI) blog.

 

Everyone knows that we are in pumpkin season right now. If you weren’t aware, it’s about time to get your head out of the gutter. Actually, since those gutters are probably full of fallen autumn leaves, you may want to get back to work. I digress…

Did you know that pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family which include melons, cucumbers, gourds, and squashes? That’s right: pumpkins are related to cucumbers! Neat, right? As a cucurbitacin, pumpkins are high in phytonutrients that will help keep you healthy and well throughout the fall season. But that means you have to eat them, not just take pictures of an orchard or create jack-o’-lanterns with your kids. Sadly, that just won’t cut it.

Healthy because its orange.

The more colorful the food, the better they are for you. If only it were that simple. Well, actually, it often is, with several exceptions of course. Don’t toss out that cauliflower or onion just yet!

The orange hue of the pumpkins’ skin and flesh is due to specific phytonutrients, chemicals found in plant foods. The phytonutrient category that lends the orange color to pumpkins are carotenoids which include specific chemicals you may or may not have heard of such as beta carotene, alpha carotene, lutein, lycopene, and others. Is there another vegetable that you can think of that is orange and might have carotenoids in it?

pumpkin1

But how are pumpkins healthy?

Due to the nutrient profile of pumpkins, this winter squash variety, like most winter squash varieties, is an anti-inflammatory and even an anti-cancer food. While most of the studies on winter squash’s benefits for health have been conducted on laboratory animals, there have been numerous studies on the various nutrients in pumpkin that support the claims made here.

One of the many benefits that the beta carotene nutrient in pumpkin provides for our bodies is reducing organ damage brought on by oxidative stress in the body. What causes oxidative stress? A poor diet, smoking, drug use, and environmental pollutants are among the sources. And what does oxidative stress lead to if left unchecked? Disease and possibly cancer.

Some studies show that adequate or higher levels of carotenoids may result in a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer and a reduced risk of breast cancer for women. And there is adequate research to show that the nutrients found in pumpkin have been shown to improve blood sugar regulation and possibly improve cardiovascular health. Even iron deficiency anemia may be prevented or treated with Vitamin A supplementation and pumpkin has plenty of Vitamin A.

So what are you waiting for? Start pump(kin)ing up your health today!

 Health properties (not every micronutrient is included)

Based on 1 cup:

Calories: approx. 50

Rich in: Vitamin A

Good source of: B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Copper, Iron,

Decent source of: Manganese, Phosphorus, and Potassium.

Bonus: Pumpkin has minimal amounts (but amounts nonetheless!) of all of the essential amino acids.

The pumpkin oatmeal recipe that I wrote up for this blog post can be found on the FAMI blog. 🙂

Enjoy your health!

 

References:

  1. Jansen RJ, Robinson DP, Stolzenberg-solomon RZ, et al. Nutrients from fruit and vegetable consumption reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer. J Gastrointest Cancer. 2013;44(2):152-61.
  2. Esrefoglu M, Akinci A, Taslidere E, Elbe H, Cetin A, Ates B. Ascorbic acid and beta-carotene reduce stress-induced oxidative organ damage in rats. Biotech Histochem. 2016;91(7):455-464.
  3. Jayaprakasam B, Seeram NP, Nair MG. Anticancer and antiinflammatory activities of cucurbitacins from Cucurbita andreana. Cancer Lett. 2003;189(1):11-6.
  4. Eliassen AH, Hendrickson SJ, Brinton LA, et al. Circulating carotenoids and risk of breast cancer: pooled analysis of eight prospective studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012;104(24):1905-16.
  5. Semba RD, Bloem MW. The anemia of vitamin A deficiency: epidemiology and pathogenesis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56(4):271-281.

Get Those Kids Moving!

An article I recently read on ScienceDaily.com is the motivation behind this post. That article  covered a study that was recently published in Sports Medicine on how high-intensity (this is measured, not simply just an extreme or inhumane amount of exercise) exercise can reduce the amount of adipose tissue of 6-8 year old kids. Obvious right? Get a kid doing sprint intervals on a track or sign him or her up for a daily boot camp session at your local gym and he or she is bound to burn off some fat and lose some weight, extra or not. But in this study, just 10 minutes (yes, 10, not an hour or 2 hours)  of high-intensity exercise resulted in less central adiposity (when fat is stored in the mid-section, it is a risk factor for many diseases and other health problems).

Ten minutes is nothing right? Wrong. It maybe used to be “nothing”, but in a time where recess at school is not necessarily the norm and physical education, or gym class, does not happen every day, those 10 minutes of healthy activity–exercise, if you will–may be more hard for your children to come by then you would think.

So here’s an idea: on days that your child doesn’t have gym class or soccer practice or gymnastics practice, etc., plan to do something active with them for a minimum of ten minutes. You may think, “Oh, they have soccer practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a game every Saturday. They really need those other days off to just relax.” Not necessarily. First off, they likely won’t get burnt out by playing at your local park,  scootering, skateboarding, or biking around the neighborhood, or playing some frisbee in a nearby safe open space. They’re kids! In fact, they’ll probably love the extra time they get to spend with neighborhood friends, mom, dad, sister, brother, cousin, babysitter, aunt, uncle, etc. If having kids exercise in a fun, healthy way isn’t great enough, here’s a bonus: if you’re involved, this idea gets you out the door as well! Heck, stay inside and play some DDR or whatever has replaced DDR at this point (I haven’t played video games in quite a long time); if DDR isn’t high-intensity, I don’t know what is!

But here’s something you must, must remember to do or else the “health” aspect just goes right out the window: fuel your kiddo(s) with some healthful, nourishing, love-filled foods before and after this exercise time. If your child is grabbing a handful of Skittles or downing a bag of Doritos before you start your bonding/exercise/playing time, they’re not going to be getting the same health effects that should be resulting from the healthy activities. The same thing goes for if they walk in the door after a half-hour of playing at the park and go right for the cookies or whatever else is their go-to. This applies to us as adults so why not foster these healthy habits in our youth. It’s kind of our moral obligation in a way.

So how do we do this? How do we abide by our moral obligation to help keep our youth healthy? We teach them. We talk to them and with them. We learn together–no matter how much you already know–that an apple (classic example so please substitute this with any other fruit, vegetable, etc.) is healthier than the Skittles and we learn why that is as well. We learn that we can add peanut butter to the apple slices and maybe a dash of cinnamon and we have a delicious treat. We make our own granola bars or we get really smart about what bars we bring into the home. We strive to make at least one recipe a week with our children to teach them the importance of preparing our own meals, and we have fun while doing it.  We model what we preach. We walk our talk. We don’t grab the cookies when we walk in the door. We don’t buy the potato chips but then tell our kids that they can’t have any…they’ll just have some when you’re not looking. We need to be great, not just good, at role modeling what we want our kids to do or not do. And lastly, we need to build on what our kids are learning about in school when it comes to food and nutrition. There are some great programs and articles for kids out there that do a great job about teaching our children the importance of eating healthily and limiting the junk food, but all of these articles and nutrition programs have very little effect if these conversations and new ideas are not continued and fostered at home. Let’s change that!

Let’s make healthy fun. Let’s make “exercise” fun (maybe without even saying the word exercise!). Let’s make food fun and engaging and something we can all look forward to learning about together.

So get going. Go have some fun with the kiddo(s) in your life!

PS: That’s me in the picture above with my niece. This was taken a few years ago so she was either 6 or 7. You may be thinking, “How is she ‘moving’ if she’s on your shoulders?” She’s on my shoulders because she and I “ran” the entire first mile off and on and had a blast while doing it. She would sprint. I would chase her. She would chase me. We ran in circles. We pet dogs. We had so much fun and I put her on my shoulders to pose for this picture, but we continued running off and on for the next mile. She didn’t want to complete the 5k and there was no harm in that!

PB everything! It’s National Peanut Butter Day!

It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Speaking of which, it’s pretty delicious on sliced bread. That’s right. I’m talking about peanut butter. In honor of National Peanut Butter Day, this post is obviously going to be focused on the nutty good stuff.

Contrary to what we all learned in elementary and/or middle school, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter. Sure, his efforts were important for the rise of peanuts in the early 1900s and he did invent many uses for peanuts, especially therapeutic ones, but peanut butter…not his. Okay, he perhaps created a “version” of peanut butter, but 1) I don’t know what that means and 2) you shouldn’t be credited with inventing the computer when all you did was turn it into a laptop. Just sayin’. Some say the Kellogg brothers (yes, like Kellogg’s cereal) should get credit and maybe this is more accurate, but history tells us that there were peoples in South America and Central America who used the peanut (which originated in South America) who used peanuts as a paste. I guess one could argue this is an early version of peanut butter, right?

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Regardless of the details, I’m very grateful for wherever it came from and whoever “invented” it, because there are a handful of things that equate to heaven on earth for me and peanut butter is certainly on that list. So, why do I love peanut butter so much? Well…it’s delicious.

That was easy.

The better question is: “Why do I choose to eat peanut butter relatively regularly?”

That answer can result in enough of a response for a blog post, hence this one. So let’s just get right to it.

pb

Three Reasons Why I Eat Peanut Butter Often

1.Taste

As I said before, I find peanut butter incredibly delicious. I used to eat peanut butter as my school lunch pretty regularly as a kid. It was either hot lunch or cold lunch when I was in elementary school and cold lunch was only ever peanut butter and jelly for me. Even in high school, I’d say at least 80% of all of my high school lunches combined included a pb&j although I had graduated from white bread and grape jelly to wheat bread and strawberry preserves at this point. When Val and I were planning the move from New Jersey to Portland, the first thing I knew we needed to have in the cooler was bread and pb&j. It was a no-brainer, really.

So, if peanut butter didn’t taste good, I wouldn’t eat it so often. Simple as that.

8 You know it’s a true friendship when she makes you vegan chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.

 

2.Fat

That’s right. I eat it for the fat. Peanuts are rich in monounsaturated fats which are the good, healthy kind of fats. I buy peanut butter that is either raw, organic, or natural. If I see hydrogenated in the ingredient list then 1) I picked up the wrong peanut butter and 2) I’m not buying it. Hydrogenated is another name for trans fats and we call know we don’t want that kind of fat in our bodies. But the good fats…I’ll take them! Monounsaturated fats may lower risk of heart disease and can also be good for lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

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Another reason I want the fat is because I utilize fat when I run. I don’t do this as efficiently as some ultrarunners who I know truly take a fat as fuel approach to their nutrition, but I know I’ve come a long way when it comes to metabolizing fat for energy. How do I know? As far as I know, I can complete at least 3 hours of running without taking in any carbohydrates. Most of that running takes place in the fat-burning zones, but it eventually speeds up and I can still feel good and maintain the pace without feeling depleted. So, yes. I want the fat because I use the fat.

3.Nutrients

A peanut is, like many, many plant-based foods, a nutritional powerhouse. Peanuts contain a great amount of protein (just 1 ounce has about 7 grams of protein!), fiber, and other essential micronutrients that we all need for normal body functioning. Nutrients like manganese, biotin (B7), copper, phosphorus, folate, vitamin E, and so many others in varying amounts are all found in peanuts and natural peanut butter, making peanuts a healthy food for sure. If the body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, pushing it to perform physical activity is kind of an exercise in futility. This can lead to many other undesirable issues if you’re exercising regularly, but not giving your body what it needs to maintain this lifestyle.

carrot and pb

There you have it! So go and grab a jar of your finest peanut butter (Ingredients should have one word: peanuts), and celebrate National Peanut Butter Day the right way.

Main references:

http://nationalpeanutboard.org/the-facts/history-of-peanuts-peanut-butter/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=101

Healthy and Delicious 3-Ingredient Pancakes

Many people reserve pancakes for the weekend; this is true for when I was growing up as well. I am not positive why this is, but I have a feeling it has something to do with pancakes being thought of as not the healthiest of breakfasts and it’s probably not if you stick to the most popular pancake mixes out there. Just look at how many ingredients there are in these two popular pancake mixes:

BISQUICK

Enriched Flour Bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate,                                  riboflavin, folic acid), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil,                            Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate),                  Dextrose, Salt.

AUNT JEMIMA 

INGREDIENTS: ENRICHED BLEACHED FLOUR (BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR,                                 NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID),                       SUGAR, LEAVENING (SODIUM BICARBONATE, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE,                   MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), DEXTROSE, NONFAT DRY MILK, PARTIALLY                               HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, WHEAT GLUTEN, CALCIUM CARBONATE,                   CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, SODIUM CASEINATE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, LACTIC                     ACID.

Corn syrup solids? Partially hydrogenated oils? Bleaching agents to make my pancakes whiter and fluffier? “No, thank you,” to all of that!

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What if I told you that you can have pancakes everyday and, unless you go overboard with the mix-ins, not jeopardize your health goals? Well, with these guilt-free pancakes, you can. They are perfect for fueling, recovering, pleasing, and just plain living. Seriously, though: I’ve had these pancakes every morning for three days straight so far and I didn’t once feel heavy or go into a food coma.  So I have for you today, a simple recipe for making the most nutritious and delicious pancakes you’ve probably ever had (Okay, maybe this applies to the “nutritious” part.). Now, you can make these less-healthy or healthier by adding certain add-ins (e.g. adding chocolate chips and loads of syrup every morning is not something I’d advise) , but the 3 main ingredients stay the same.

3 Ingredients:

  1. ROLLED OATS (3/4 cup)
  2. NONDAIRY MILK (1/2 cup)
  3. BANANA (1 medium-sized)

That’s right. You can turn this:

Into this:

pan3 19

Or this:

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Whenever you want.

Recipe for 3-Ingredient Pancakes (makes 3-4 medium sized pancakes):

  1. Pour the dry rolled oats into a blender and blend them until they become like flour. This should take less than a minute.                                                                       11
  2. Add the nondairy milk and the banana and blend until a batter forms. This should take less than a minute.
  3. Pour the batter into a pre-heated pan that is lightly smeared (like you would any other time you make pancakes). Earth Balance or coconut oil are probably good options here, but I’m sure you can find a way to not use either fatty option.                              16
  4. Monitor and flip like you would any other time you’re making pancakes. They aren’t as fragile as you think they might be thanks to the banana. pan1
  5. Serve with whatever toppings you want. I top with pure maple syrup because it’s a sweetener that at least has some nutritional value (e.g. zinc, manganese, calcium).

7    8

I’m a sucker for (vegan) chocolate chip pancakes and I added hemp seeds, ground cinnamon, and cacao powder for extra nutrients.

pan4                       Added crushed almonds to this batter.

Additional ingredients to add to the batter after 3 ingredients have been blended or on top of the pancakes once ready (your preference): cinnamon, cacao or cocoa powder, chocolate chips, crushed nuts, seeds (hemp, pre-soaked chia, pumpkin, sunflower), blueberries, goji berries, apricots, figs, apples.

There you have it! Pancakes so good you’re dishwasher (child, partner, or machine) will want to thank you! 🙂

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Now you have an easy way to make healthy pancakes that are nutritious and delicious. They are also vegan and gluten free so you can share this recipe with friends and family members without worry of conflicting with their dietary choices.

Yay! Pancakes for everyone!

PS: If the batter and finished products are a bit on the thicker side where you can tell they are definitely made from hearty oats, add a tad more nondairy milk to the batter. Optimally, they have a bit of fluffiness to them and shouldn’t be close to dry when you are eating them.

 

 

 

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…

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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!

My Top 4 Breakfast Choices As A Runner

We all have heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well I’m here to tell you that…It’s true! Oh,  come on! What’d you expect me to say?

Skipping breakfast can have so many effects on the rest of your day and can lead to unhealthy habits such as snacking a lot, and often on foods high in fat and sugar. Skipping also means it can be more difficult to get all of the necessary nutrients your body needs on a daily basis and if you’re a runner or exercise regularly, you’re looking at an even more difficult time achieving proper daily nutrition. This doesn’t mean you can’t get all the nutrients you need if you skip breakfast; it will just require more effort.

Why in the world you want to skip breakfast anyway?! Let’s be real…the breakfast food category has the best foods: Coffee, pancakes, oatmeal, coffee, fruits, (tofu) scrambles, pastries, pancakes, hashbrowns, coffee, homefries, french toast, pancakes, bagels, donuts, coffee, pancakes, coffee, pancakes, coffee, pancakes, and fruit. And pancakes. With coffee. And a side of roasted potatoes.

For many reasons though, people do skip breakfast. It could be they don’t have time for it (popular one, especially from my track athletes) or that they don’t like eating too early and when they get to work, they’re too busy to eat. I’ve even had a track athlete tell me that she forgot to eat breakfast. Important: If you are a person, but especially an athlete (even more especially, a young, developing athlete) you it’s a big risk (and ask) to skip meals and think your body will continue to meet all your demands. I think eventually, if this habit is long-lasting and your activity levels are more than moderate, you may experience the consequences of such a habit (e.g. fatigue, poor skin health, poor eye health, lower brain activity/performance, low energy, or other possible and likely outcomes of improper nutrition).

So:

  • Don’t have time? Wake up earlier. 15 minutes. That’s all you need to prep and eat a minimally decent breakfast. 15 minutes is much time to shave off of your sleep? Go to bed 15 minutes earlier. Solved!
  • Work is too busy? Grab something on-the-go. Oatmeal cups, nutrition bars, fruit, bagel (skip the butter and CC), and more.
  • Forgot? Err….Umm….What’s wrong with you!? Kidding. But, I don’t how to help with that one. I suppose a phone reminder or post-it note on your bathroom mirror could help.

All of this was just a long introduction to the crux of this post:

MY  TOP  4  BREAKFAST  CHOICES  (As a Runner)

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I hate that we categorize foods as breakfast, lunch, or dinner foods because it makes me feel bad for wanting pancakes for dinner, when everyone should want pancakes for dinner! 

Homemade pancakes are just too darn tasty to not be on this list. Of my favorite foods, they are only second to potatoes. But their taste and fluffiness only contribute to why they are #1 on my top 4 breakfast choices. The reason I included “homemade” is not because I have anything against going out and getting some delicious dairy and egg-free pancakes for brunch (hence the picture, taken at Portobello Trattoria in Portland). It’s just that when you make the batter yourself, you can add ingredients that would turn that fluffy flapjack into a nutrient powerhouse. Chia seeds, flax seeds, maca powder, cacao powder, cinnamon, berries, a pinch of salt…the list can go on and on. I won’t make pancakes before a run, but when I get back from a long run, I know I can rely on pancakes to replenish my glycogen stores and give me the nutrients I need to recover properly and quickly.

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Oatmeal is probably one of the foods that doctors, nutritionists, food professionals and breakfast enthusiasts can all agree is a top choice for breakfast. If you don’t like oatmeal, you’re not doing it right. Have you had Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal? No? Click on the link and start living. What you can do with a hot bowl of oats, like pancakes, is endless! For starters, before you cook ’em, you can make the oatmeal cold (simple take on Muesli, anyone?). Similar to pancakes though, you can add so much to oatmeal before it becomes too much (is that even possible?): cinnamon, chia or flax seeds, pinch of salt, banana slices, cacao powder, and some peanut butter are what I frequently add, but you can do so much more. Berries, apple slices, coconut flakes, sliced nuts, teaspoon of fresh jam, a dollop of thick non-dairy Greek yogurt…Such an easy way to pack a bowl of nutrients (fiber, protein, carbs, and vitamins from your add-ins) into a bowl of hot oats, steel cut or rolled! Oh, and for your busy people…Bob’s Red Mill has new cups of oatmeal for your busy mornings!

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6  Not pretty. Still delicious.

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1 Scrambled…Tofu. Or just “tofu scramble.” No matter how you call it, it’s delicious. And, again, it’s a great way to get a whopping amount of nutrients onto your plate! Organic tofu is something I frequently eat, especially for its protein value and versatility. Then I add all of the other ingredients as an easy way to increase my vitamin intake (K, C, D, A, B’s, etc).

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To make a tofu scramble, I add a bit of oil in a skillet and set the gas to low. Then I slice some onions and add them to the skillet on a higher heat. I then chop (?) the tofu into the desired bit sizes I want (you can use a knife, fork, or spatula for this) and add the tofu to the skillet.Then I slice and dice the rest of the veggies and add those a couple of minutes later. The color comes from the curry powder, turmeric, and the paprika, but I also add cayenne and garlic to taste.

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green smoothie  bananas

Fruit: Blended into a fruit smoothie with vegetables or just as it is in its delicious raw form. When you blend, you can, for the fourth time, add many ingredients to maximize the nutrients that end up in your glass, but the result could also be quite a bit of sugar in your glass as well. If you are limiting your sugar intake for health concerns or preferences then you may want to just stick to a few pieces of fruit as you’ll be full longer. As a runner, I make sure to eat fruit in the morning (bananas especially) for a couple reasons: the fiber keeps me full longer and I ensure that I am taking the first opportunity I get to get the nutrients my body needs.

So I’ll leave you with a bunch of stuff here at the end of this post. You’re treated to questions, a brief peek into the breakfast life of Lolo Jones, and wise words from the one and only Winnie the Pooh.

QUESTIONS: What are your go-to breakfast foods/meals? Do you eat those same foods before a run? After a run? And what’s your reasoning behind your responses? Try to find a reason even if you don’t think you have one…I believe people should always be mindful about what they eat and this includes why they’re eating something.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”  p&p

Wise words. Pooh Bear. Wise words.